In the interests of full disclosure, I was given a copy of this book by the publisher, for review purposes.

Title: When the Fight Goes to the Ground: Jiu-Jitsu Strategies and Tactics for Self-Defense
Author: Lori O’Connell
Publisher: Tuttle
Pages: 192
Cover Price: $18.95 (with DVD)

First off, let me say that this is a book I’ve had on my Amazon wishlist for a couple of years now.  I’ve really wanted to read this one.  I study a mainly stand up martial art, and as such, have wanted to study on my own, some grappling, or what’s often called ground fighting.  This book is designed exactly for that purpose.  It is for someone to add more to their own martial art. Besides the book, it also comes with a DVD showing the techniques discussed in the book.  This alone covers one of the faults of many books, which is trying to show dynamic motion with still images.  I guess someone else figured out that moving images show motion better than pictures.  Go figure.

Content

This book is set up with an introduction that talks about grappling/ground fighting in one of the most honest ways I’ve ever seen.  The author, Lori O’Connell challenges the often made claim by grappling schools that “all fights go to the ground.”  By doing some research of law enforcement encounter statistics, it turns out there are a significant number that do end up on the ground, but not as many as some slogans may have you believe.  The introduction then concludes with the martial theory that the ground is not the place you want to be, but if you don’t know what to do when you’re there, then its doubly bad.
Most of the techniques presented in this book are from the perspective of self-defense, not sport. Each of the chapters shows strategies and techniques that allow you to get up after being on the ground from a particular situation.  The DVD then goes on to show the same techniques in motion.

Pros

This book does an excellent job at being what it is.  Which is an addendum to someone’s martial training that doesn’t train in ground fighting.  If you want to supplement your own system self-defense ideas, the this book is great at doing that.  The colored pictures in the book are easy to follow.  However, if you can’t tell exactly what is going on, the included DVD shows the same techniques in motion.  This can be a great asset because sometimes,  the moving examples can show more than pictures can.
I think the author being a small female also helps with the validity of the techniques.  If she can train to pull them off against larger, stronger opponents (which would be almost everyone) then the techniques work.

Cons

The only thing that could be negative about this book is that it is a textbookish, dry read.  And that isn’t really a drawback because it is designed to be more like an addition to a martial arts curriculum than a storybook.  It isn’t a history, or an entertaining story.  It fills its roll very well.

Conclusion

I have to give this book a very high 4.5 out of 5 Ninja Stars.  I would recommend this book to anyone that is in any stand up martial art who wants to learn more about how to train for ground fighting situations.  This book is brilliant at fulfilling that role.  As I said above, the only drawback, is that it has a manual type feel to the reading of it, and the instructions may get repetitive.  This could be because I was sitting there reading it, as opposed to trying to learn and practice each individual technique presented before moving on.  The techniques presented are viable and the combined instruction through the clear color pictures and the DVD make me want to go onto the mat and start playing with them now.