Set aside fanciful stories about Buddhist and Daoist monks, spiritual alchemy, achieving enlightenment and later history of cultural appropriation and examine Chinese martial arts for what they originally were intended, combat. The sooner we accept these origins, the sooner we can examine a correct history and appreciate its consequences. The sooner we can realize that the evolution from battlefield combat method to personal combat method is not all that different from the same evolutionary path that took place in Japan, and even took place in Europe. With the proper context we can understand the proper application.
As a battlefield combat art, there is very little place for ground fighting. On a battlefield, a man who falls or is taken to the ground is likely to be stabbed, speared, crushed or trampled to death. When we talk about battlefield combat, casualties are both unavoidable and accepted, a price of doing business. The single man is NOT a consideration, so the man who finds himself on the ground is NOT a concern.
As these methods trickle down to the general population and become methods of personal defense, the frame of reference changes. The man training to defend himself is not a general willing to sacrifice troops to achieve victory, he is the very individual the general would sacrifice to achieve larger aims. The man training for personal combat wants potential solutions should he find himself on the ground. He may known that his chances are reduced in combat with weapons, against multiple attackers, etc, but he won’t abandon all hope and resign to his fate. That is not human nature.
The first ground fighting skill is learning to stand back up. If you can’t get off the ground quickly enough, the next tier of defense is defending against the standing attacker. The most common Chinese martial arts ground fighting tactic is indeed kicks from the ground.
A lot of people who identify themselves as traditional Chinese martial artists are highly critical of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Unfortunately, most are not that educated regarding the actual art. The original Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as developed by the Gracie family (as opposed to sport jiujitsu which has come up rather recently by comparison) was a self defense art. It was also designed for “Vale Tudo” or no-holds-barred fighting. The original Gracie family jiujitsu contained a lot of kicks from the ground upwards at an attacker, techniques that would seem familiar to Chinese martial artists. Also, those who really are familiar with the diversity of Chinese martial arts might find techniques similar to Gracie jiujitsu.
Most Chinese martial artists have learned the scissors legs (“Gaau Jin Geuk”) that appears universally in all traditions’ ground fighting teachings. It is often seen as simply a way to get up. But it is an extremely complicated movement for simply a method of returning to a standing position? Many students of Chinese martial arts have seen it used as simple leg sweeps, but what if it also could be used for the guard sweeps so common in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? Or perhaps even the arm bars and triangle chokes used from the guard?
If we consider that originally Chinese martial arts, as a battlefield combat method, had no ground fighting techniques, only developing them later, can we not ask why we can’t continue to develop our ground fighting methods? When Chinese martial arts were adopted for personal combat, ground techniques were developed, but within the context of that period. Today, we are in another period. Should we not continue to develop?