Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Traditionally, karate was created in Okinawa (a small island off the coast of Japan) to help the farmers defend their land and their families. It was created for close quarter combat. Blocks and strikes were not made for long range fighting. Back than it was simple : stand your ground or give up the ground that you stand on.
So why do we teach our students to fight from the ground? Well, this isn't ancient Okinawa anymore. There are many more styles of fighting than just karate. In today's society 99% of fights that break out end up on the ground and if you only know how to defend yourself from a standing position, than you have a big problem.
Too many people these days think they know how to grapple, ground fight, wrestle, however you would like to put it. They think they know all of these skills from the years they have spent watching UFC and MMA matches on television. The truth be told, unless they have training to back up their television habits, most people have zero clue what to do if they actually end up on the ground in a fight.
We know most of our students probably don't watch the UFC or MMA anymore, but that doesn't mean that we should stop teaching kids how to keep themselves safe. In my personal opinion, my students should be taught not only to defend themselves from standing but also from the ground. This is exactly why I teach my students both of these things.
Do I ever want to hear of my students getting into a fight? Of course not, but things happen. People are bullies and society isn't always fair. I would rather hear of my students defending themselves, than just standing there and being hit like a punching bag.
Teenagers are especially vulnerable to these situations. Young children often would never dare to get into an all out brawl, older adults most of the time have to common sense not to put themselves in a situation where they may get seriously injured by another person. However, teens are still learning these life lessons. They want to be the best, the toughest, the king of the school, especially when they either a) think they know how to fight, b) get mixed in with the wrong crowd, or c) both A and B.
This is why I like to teach students not only how to avoid ending up on the ground, but how to get out of that situation if it arises. I teach my students how to escape certain holds, how to defend from joint locks, chokes, and takedowns. These moves and techniques are the things that can make the difference between a successful escape or serious bodily harm done to you.
These are all of the reasons I believe that learning how to fight and defend from the ground is just as important as learning how to fight and defend from a standing position. If you can keep your feet under you, amazing! But you need to be prepared incase you can't.