Oftentimes, it is important to work positions before submissions in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Positions help you earn points and maintain dominance over your opponent. In self-defense scenarios, it is also useful to hold your attacker in a position and wait for help, rather than risk trying to harm them with a submission that may not work. Here are five basic positions to help you dominate your opponents on and off the mats.
5 Basic Positions
- Mount (4 points)
The mount position is when you are on top of your opponent, in the dominant position, knees on either side of them. Once you get to mount, it’s important not to lose this position. You are in one of the best places to submit via armbar or choke, while the person on the bottom must struggle to get out beneath your own weight. If you want to be in total control of your opponent, this is the position to be in. It is also one of two positions that earn you four points.
- Back Mount (4 points)
The back mount position is sometimes taught as ‘backpack,’ and it is exactly as it sounds. You are behind your opponent with your legs ‘hooked’ into them, arms around their chest. The back mount is the other position that earns you four points and is the most common position to get a choking submission. Taking the back can be done from many different entries, but once you’re there, stay there and get the choke.
When someone has guard, this means that the bottom person is dominant, with their opponent between their legs, facing them. The guard is the biggest difference between jiu-jitsu and all other grappling arts. In wrestling and judo, you lose if you end up on your back; in jiu-jitsu, the guard opens up opportunities to submit, sweep or stall. By nature, many people believe that being on the bottom is a losing position. But really, learning to utilize the guard is one of the best skills you can gain in jiu-jitsu. Having a top game is easy, but having a top and bottom game makes for the most balanced jiu-jitsu practitioner.
- Side Control
Side control is a pinning position where the top person is chest-to-chest with the person on the bottom, their body laying across and out the side. By putting pressure on their opponent, the person on top can make it difficult for their opponent to move at all and get to a better position. Reaching side control usually comes from passing someone’s guard. From this position, you can transition to knee on belly, mount, or a submission. Side control opens up many opportunities to win or get to better positions. As a result, you are more dominant and get to control the match.
- Knee on Belly (2 points)
The knee on belly position is exactly as it sounds. The person on top has their knee on the stomach of the person on the bottom, their other leg up – kind of like a sideways lunge. Knee on belly is used as a transitional position from passing the guard to getting mounted. It amounts to two additional points and more control with heavy pressure on the person on the bottom. Applied the right way, the person on the bottom will be almost breathless and may even tap to it. They typically will try to curl to their side and desperately attempt to escape, opening up the perfect opportunity to jump to mount (adding four points) and submit.