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6 Primary Positions of Grappling

If you will look at any sparring or competition, you will see that people spend 90% of their time in following positions:

1. Guard

1a:  Full Guard: In full guard, bottom player encircles his legs around opponent and tries to defend himself, top player tries to get past his opponents legs to get to superior position.

1b: Open Guard: In Open Guard, top player is standing while he is trying to get past the legs, bottom players goal is to sweep the opponent or defend the position.

1c: Half Guard: In Half Guard, top player must constantly pressure the bottom one to completely get past of the opponents legs, bottom player, on the other hand, tries to sweep or gets back to the full guard.

Kimura from guard


2. Side Control

In Side Control, top player managed to get past the legs, and now has better advantage to attack or transition to better position. During this time bottom player tries to escape and retain his guard.

American from side control


3. Knee on the Belly

Knee on the belly is long transition between Side Control and Mount (next position). Top player usually uses it to pin the opponent on the ground and safely transition to superior position. Bottom player tries to defend himself and tries to disrupt opponents actions.


4: Mount

In Mount, top player managed to get into dominant position from which he can attack and create an opening for better position.

Bottom player tries to defend himself while trying to sweep the opponent into less superior position.

Guillotine from mount

5. Back Mount

In Rear Mount top player has total dominance over bottom player.


6. Turtle

In turtle bottom player has defensive superiority and waits for good timing to attack, meanwhile top player tries to break the position to his favour.


Positional hierarchy of Grappling

For top and bottom players positions mentioned above have their advantages and disadvantages, it goes like this: