If you are wondering how to counter MMA techniques for street self defense, look no further than +Lori O’Connell‘s book “When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu Jitsu Strategies and Tactics for Self Defense.” A DVD video is included in the book, which helps to illustrate the concepts laid out in the book. She is the head instructor of the +Pacific Wave Jiu-jitsu – Martial Arts & Self-Defense in the greater Vancouver area.

According to the biography provided by the book, “Lori O’Connell Sensei holds a 5th degree black belt and full instructor’s license in Can-Ryu jiu jitsu, having trained in martial arts for over 20 years and taught for over 17 years in Canada and abroad. She has trained extensively in a variety of other martial arts and she currently runs her own Jiu Jitsu dojo, operating in the greater Vancouver area in Canada.” In the introductory section, she is careful to note that she does not have a black belt in BJJ and has not competed in MMA. That being said, that does not detract, in any way, from the fact that this is an excellent book. According to her, her goal was to “learn what (she) needed to equip (her) students for self-protection against the realities of modern ground fighting.”

The book tackles a specific topic: how to defend against common MMA techniques when encountered in a street self defense situation? This book does a great job of covering concepts that a reader needs to know in order to defend himself/herself when on the ground as a result of a confrontation.

The topics in the book are laid out in a logical order and are as follows:

•Understanding the Ground
•Primary Tools for Ground Defense- Body Shifting and Control
•Primary Tools for Ground Defense- Attacks to Vital Targets
•How to Breakfall on Concrete
•Defending From the Ground Against a Standing Attacker
•Defending Against a Mounted Attacker
•Defending Against an Attacker from Guard
•Defending Against an Attacker Mounted on Your Back
•Defending Against an Attacker Kneeling Between Your Legs, Belly Down
•Defending Against Side Controlling Positions
•Defending Against Bottom Controlling Positions
•Applying Neck Restraints
•Defending Against Common Neck Restraints
•Applying Joint Locks
•Defending Against Joint Locks
*Defending Against Knife Attacks on the Ground
•Defending Against Multiple Attackers on the Ground

As one can see, the topics are tackled in a progressive and logical order. I particularly liked the emphasis on “Body Shifting and Control.” I considered that the most important chapter in the entire book. Nearly every topic in the rest of the book came back to the principle of body shifting. In that chapter, she discusses important topics such as “Keeping Your Legs between You and Your Attacker,” “Bridging and Rolling,” “Shrimping,” and “Turtling.” She also discusses “Dominant Position Strategy” which is particularly useful for law enforcement officers. I was delighted to see that these topics were covered in the accompanying DVD.

The accompanying DVD is a huge plus for this book. Apparently, the book/DVD format had been determined by Tuttle Publishing even before they contacted Sensei O’Connell. One of my beefs about martial arts books is that photographs do not always convey the concept or is poorly done and the reader is left to decipher the action being depicted.  No longer. One can just pop the DVD into a computer or in the DVD player and select the appropriate section and get a better understanding of the concepts being imparted by the book. In this case, the DVD covers all of the topics of the book, with the exception of “Attacks to the Vital Targets” and “Defending against Multiple Attackers on the Ground.”

The book and the DVD is obviously not intended to cover every scenario or be an exhaustive catalogue of techniques. However, it excels in covering the major ground defense concepts that should cover most self defense scenarios from the ground.

The book is extremely well written, easy to read and is professionally done. I cannot say the same for other martial arts books that I have read in the past. They can be riddled with mis-spellings, less than stellar grammar, and poor photography. Sensei O’Connell expresses herself very well and is clear in her teaching progressions. The DVD is a tremendous compliment to the book and I surely hope that Tuttle Publishing does this for other martial arts books in the future.

To summarize, I highly recommend this book for those wanting to learn the concepts of self defense when on the ground. MMA players and martial artists alike will learn much from this book and DVD. I recommend that you read the book one chapter at a time, peruse the photographs and study the DVD of the corresponding chapter. I look forward to future works by Sensei O’Connell and other books by Tuttle in a book/DVD format.

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