Jiu-jitsu is considered one of the most effective martial arts today, and for good reason. The premise that anyone can take on a stronger opponent by driving the fight to the ground and using their strength against themselves has been shown to work, time and again, over the last decades. So if you want to learn the arts of grappling, there are a few basic jiu-jitsu positions you have to drill to perfection. No matter what your objective is, be it for self defense, sport, fitness, spiritual growth or otherwise, these positions are the key to a successful practice and, hence, to mastery.
Basic Jiu-jitsu Positions
In order to identify and understand not only the positions in themselves and, but also why they are important during a match or a fight, we’ll work our way from the bottom to the top positions. As a side note, you should know being at the bottom position does not necessarily mean you’re at a disadvantage! From guarding to mounting, there are a number of ways to strike up an advantage and submit your foe. By understanding this hierarchy, you’ll be able to have a better comprehension of what it means to apply these positions- or to be under them
If you have your back against the ground and your opponent is mounted on you, you can apply a closed guard by wrapping your legs on their waist and holding their sleeve and collar. This is an advantageous position because you can turn it into a cross collar choke, and from there, a triangle choke or a scissor sweep. Most importantly, the other combatant can’t stand up or move around without breaking their posture down. Sure, there are some ways the foe on top can strike a guarding combatant, but the closed guard position will give you the most control over the situation.
While we are still talking about guards, let’s talk about another very important basic position: the half guard. You will not always have your back against the floor, especially if your opponent has just escaped from a pin, so it’s important to master this position to ensure you have good control over who is guarding: this is a somewhat vulnerable position if you don’t turn it into a sweep quickly and effectively. The premise behind the half guard is to lock one of the opponent’s legs with a figure-4 position. This gives you access to the foe’s center of gravity, allowing a number of sophisticated sweeps.
Finally, it is possible to guard and attack without having your legs wrapped around the opponent in any way. By placing one or both feet on the adversary’s hip, you’re setting up an open guard. The main advantage in this position is that you can control the movement, both yours and theirs, more swiftly. Therefore, this is a highly mobile position and is the basis for many advanced techniques. The most important aspect of the open guard is that you can and must keep the other combatants away from you, especially when dealing with situations of self-defense and mixed martial arts matches.
Having said that, we have covered the basic guard position. They are, indeed, the ones that better reflect the self-defense aspect of jiu-jitsu, since they are the most effective against bigger opponents who can pin you down. However, this is but half the positions we’ll cover. Another set of basic jiu-jitsu position involve you on the top. The first of them will most likely happen once you pass your guard; in a position of side control, your legs are free, but your arms are wrapping the opponent’s torso and neck from the side so as not to let them create space.
Form then, you can transition to various positions, including placing a keen on the foe’s belly. This position, besides being terrible uncomfortable for who is on the bottom position, allows the top fighter to better direct the movement of the fight. The knee on belly applies a lot of pressure, but it also allows a lot of space for transitions. From now on, you are effectively mounted on your opponent and have all the tools to choke or lock them. One of your options is to distribute your weight on them to allow maximum control, in which case you’ll be applying a full mount. The best-case scenario is to have full control over your opponent while they are facing away from you. this way, their tools can’t reach you and they can’t see you. employing back control makes the foe the most vulnerable, as its extremely difficult for them to escape this position and you can apply hooks that is, the wrapping of your arms and legs to any of their joint, or applies pressure.
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