For the former, do you have any evidence to support that? I've asked this question many times and no one can ever come up with any research, study, evidence, etc, except for personal opinion.
Nah, just 10 years in law enforcement working street patrol and responding to hundreds of physical altercations.
I don't know of any statistics for it, just what I have seen in handling fights and assaults of all kinds and talking to people about what happened. I don't think there are any statistics for "most fights don't get past one punch," either.
Even many of the predatory "ambush" assaults that George notes do not end with one punch.
Certainly it happens. Plently of people get sucker punched and taken out. Some people stupidly or unknowingly brace a boxer and end up being shown how effective a street fighting art boxing actually is.... but I would very much quibble with the idea that "most" fights don't get past the first punch.
RE: The Ground in Self Defense (BTW, in the interest of full disclosure, I wrote the linked EJMAS article.)
At the risk of repeating myself, ever heard of "No Plan Survives Contact with the Enemy?" Or more colloquially, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth?"
Well, everyone has a plan until they end up on the ground in a real fight.....Chris Moses is ahead of the curve on that one.
The very factors that most people cite when advising people to stay off the ground in a real fight are the things that end you up on the ground in the first place:
1. Mutliple attackers - if the attack is coordinated, you are facing the highest liklihood of all that you will be taken down. NO martial art prepares you for dealing effectively with committed multiple attackers, who in some cases have a pre-planned assault intended to put you down.
2. Bad terrain. Training on mats gives you a completely unrealistic sense of balance and footing in actual fighting. Its still useful, and far safer to train most of the time, but things change dramatically in a fight in everyday living environments: curbs, debris, excrement, vehicle fluids, planters, chairs, tables, that little lip where the sidewalk has been pushed up by roots, the slightly wet soles of your shoes, that divot in the grass that you just stepped in, etc. etc. etc.
3. Surprise. People, especially martial artists, are very generous with themselves when it comes to awareness skills and the ability to not be taken by surprise.
The dojo ain't real life. Most average, middle class people (to include martial artists) have little understanding of the dynamics of violence outside of news and entertainment media and the dojo (in fact the dojo is often counterproductive to real defensive skills without considerable re-wiring). They are either caught by surprise with a sucker shot, or are momentarily stunned that "this is actually happening" and lose valuable time and manuever opportunities in the face of an attack. That can and does translate to getting knocked down, or simply falling down.
Returning to the earlier comment: most fights don't end with one punch, but a great deal of them do end up with someone getting knocked to the ground and repeatedly booted in the head or ground and pounded.
4. Related to #3: Simply spazzing out:
Tim's example is common amongst martial artists with little or no resistive training or real fight experience - the cooperative or choreographed skillset they have worked so hard developing goes right out the window the minute real pressure and real contact, flavored with real emotion and real fear, take place.
People end up doing a bad facsimile of MMA because they have not trained for the actual dynamics and chaos of a fight in earnest.
Its usually not because their "art" fails them, but how they train
their art fails them - big difference.
They make big mistakes, they do goofy things, give up their center mentally and physically, and often lose the benefits their art should afford them: to include keeping off the ground.
Watch the early UFCs as man after man simply abandons years of training, to high dan rank, supposedly with muscles and nerves conditioned to perform the various skills they have honed: they toss it all out in favor of flailing strikes, poor and out of balance takedowns, and absolute panic when on the ground. Its not intentional, its a stress reaction to something totally outside of what they have prepared for - not "combat," not even "fighting," but a kind of physically safe and stylistic pantomime of it.
The early UFCs were not even real fights - they KNEW they weren't going to be stabbed or shot by the sudden appearance of a weapon, KNEW that multiple attackers wouldn't be involved, KNEW that a refereee was there and they wouldn't be permanently maimed or killed - yet their "combative" training simply vanished under real pressure.
So, all that just sets the stage...
Cops do go to the ground more than you'll see in civilian self defense situations - mainly for the reasons George cites.
In my experience
in interviewing people after fights, assaults, and domestic violence;
in paying attention to the extensive and increasinly ubiquitous video of real fights and assaults - of average citizens being attacked, prisoners assaulting each other, and officers being assaulted by sucker punch or ambush under the same parameters that an "average citizen" would be - ( we should remember many cops are
average citizens with just enough training to be dangerous to themselves. They get by with numbers and weapons, not skills);
I would say that at least a third to 50% of serious
physical encounters end up at some point with at least one party on the ground or in some situation similar to groundfighting (on a bed, on a couch, getting knocked over onto furniture or other surrounding features, etc.).
The more people acting against you, the more likely it is. The less warning the victim had, the more likely it is. The more brutal the initial onslaught is, the more likely it is.
The fact that being on the ground is so much more dangerous than remaining standing in a real fight should go without saying. But its all the more reason that anyone truly serious about self defense should dedicate a significant portion of their training time to ground strategies, if mainly extricating oneself from bad spots and getting up. That means against skilled opponents - wrestlers, BJJ guys, Judoka - NOT some friends in the dojo who "roll around" every Saturday at open mat and think they understand groundwork.
Another good groundfighter quote:
"I am a shark. The ground is my ocean. And most people don't even know how to swim...."