My experience is that ground fighting is only good for mano-a-mano fights. And frankly, I haven't had many of those
. Most of my fighting experience is RL fighting, which generally means that If I end up on the ground wrestling with one guy, the other two step in and start kicking me in the face
. Not good.
Simply put, Most of the guys you are going to tangle with and go to ground with are experienced only so far as H.S. wrestling programs. As RL martial artists, training to beat these guys is definitely easier than training to beat Ruas or Liddell. I really don't care what people say, these are grappling competitions, with rules skewed to grappling. Not surprising, since the genre was invented by a BJJ wrestling school. On the street, smaller or less experienced fighters aren't going to attack you unless there are more of them, and most of them are only going to try to hold you for long enough for the others to beat you senseless.
Reality check- having the ability to choke a fighter out in 15 seconds will do you a fat lot of good against 2 men with knives in a dark, glass covered alley. One of the men will have 15 seconds to stab the crap out of you, even if you do manage to disarm the one you're choking, as you roll around in the broken, filthy glass. Royce Gracie would bleed too.
With that in mind, Let me point out that anti-grappling is essential to a martial artist who wants to be able to protect him or herself outside a ring. Even a BJJ specialist will come across circumstances where going to ground will get him or her hurt very badly. If he trains only for the dojo, he'll get hurt eventually.
This is the real world truth, even if we don't like it. I studied jujitsu so that I'd have a ground game, and discovered that it only did me any good in a ring. Kung fu is not meant for sport. Lest we forget, most of the techniques we learn are unsuitable for sport fighting. That's the reality of it. I've met very few straight grapplers that could beat me on the street. My current main technique is a skull crushing palm that requires only one hand bracing to be effective. I only need to hit once. Even a glancing blow will cause damage that will win a fight. Before that, I'd mastered a series of koppo blows utilizing my chinese Iron palm to break arms, thighs, and ribs. Mainly, the large bones were my targets. I guess you could say I specialize in debilitating strikes.
No-holds barred means nothing to me. I've had lots of martial brothers that could beat me in a straight shoot in a ring, but knew I'd take them apart in a real street fight, were I could use my claws and palms. Not a single one would give me a head shot for free, which is how I look at a two leg shoot. Take away the restrictions and I will win.
Now, don't get me wrong. If you want to compete in semi-friendly matches in MMA, it'd be a good idea to have ground skills. As in all arts, when you crosstrain, you need to find a connecting thread to create a synergistic whole. I consider the guard positions to be stances. And I remember- the grappling range is the grappling range whether you're standing, sitting, or lying on your back on the ground. I use the wrestling kinetics to generate my power, but that doesn't invalidate the techniques.
Try using a hand joint splitting technique on a grappler. See whether being on the ground makes it less effective.
I do know that few things freak out a grappler like having a supposedly standup fighter take them
to the ground using techniques they thought you didn't know
. Of course, in a ring we generally assume our opponent has skills related to the competition. As a standup fighter, having ground skills means less in a competition setting. Especially since Maurice Smith gave the ground fighters a wakeup call.
"Effective in all ranges." Let that guide you, but remember, If you study lethal technologies, you will still lose in a competition setting. If you want to compete, you need to master a large libray of non lethal technologies. Iron Palm can win ground fights from the top guard easily. But you won't win a competition with it
If you want to compete in mma using TCMA as your base, you need to have a transitional set of techniques from standing to rolling, to full on ground fighting. I suggest Ditang or Gou quan style. This should give you a way to go from stand up, to throwing, to ground fighting in TCMA, to groundfighting in another style.(BJJ or whatever.) This will also give you techniques for escaping and getting back to your feet. In other words, a mastery of all ranges.
If you want to use mostly stand up fighting, you have to master the gap. You have to control it. It's not a simple as it sounds. This is a very involved science, encompassing timing and frequency, distance and sensitivity, and a half dozen other rather esoteric skills that are difficult to train in.
Whatever works- works.