In the early days of MMA fighters who took someone down tried to keep the fight there. They’d stay on the ground even if they couldn’t pass their opponent’s guard or mount an effective ground-and-pound offense.
Then the game evolved. I still remember how surprised I was the first time I saw a fighter stand up out of his opponent’s guard, back up 10 feet and invite the guy lying on his back to stand up too.
Then the game evolved AGAIN. Strikers figured out how to get back to their feet when they were on the bottom. They’d use the guard to survive but also immediately start to work for the standup. The first big name fighter I saw get back to his feet repeatedly from the bottom was Chuck Liddell. He could even do it multiple times against the same opponent, which speaks to how well he’d developed his guard standup techniques.
It’s easy for grapplers to forget this, but there are still hundreds of thousands of martial artists with ZERO knowledge of the ground game. The funny thing is that most of them have roughly the same strategy as Chuck Liddell (just without the skills to back it up).
“I’ll just get back to my feet and use my super-duper kung fu pressure-point punching technique to finish off my opponent,” they say. What they don’t realize (and probably never will until they get in a real fight) is how difficult it is to stand up when a skilled opponent is holding you down.
Please notice how I said it’s “difficult,” not “impossible,” to stand up.
We do difficult things in grappling all the time. Proper technique and training strategies make difficult things possible. Train standups the same way you would train any other move: first learn the correct technique, drill it, and then try to use it against people who are trying to stop you from standing up.
This topic was on my mind when I interviewed Marc Laimon a few years ago (he was coaching on The Ultimate Fighter TV show at the time). Afterwards I published an article with Marc showing two specific ways how to stand up out of guard in Ultimate Grappling Magazine, but I’ve only just now made it available online.
So if you’re interested in more information (and two step-by-step techniques) on standing up out of guard please check out the How to Stand Up from Guard article on Grapplearts.com
Even if you NEVER intend to fight MMA, you can’t guarantee that you won’t end up on the bottom in a streetfight. Hanging out in the guard on the street isn’t a great idea, so either sweep the guy, submit the guy, or get the hell back up to your feet.