Basic positions on the positional hierarchy ladder


It is fairly easy to turn a stand up fight into a standup wrestling match. Another name for this is the clinch.


Open guard

If you are knocked to the ground while your opponent is standing it is important to get your feet between yourself and your partner. This position is called the open guard. It takes a fair amount of work to develop skill here. However once skill is acquired here the position offers a surprising amount of defense.



If you “have” the back, (in the dominate position, on your partners back), you have achieved a fairly safe position relative to your partner. Whoever has the back is in control. Whoever has their back taken has one task – escape!



The second safest position to be in is the top of mount. The danger to the top position holder isn’t taking damage, but in getting reversed. The fact that your opponent can see everything you do makes it a little easier for them to defend.


Side control

Top side control is a great position to be in. One danger though is that the position is open to scrambles that can lead to more neutral positions or a loss of positional dominance for the top person.

Closed guard

This is a hallmark position of Jiu Jitsu. Similar to the open guard, the closed guard offers a surprising amount of defense. It also offers an incredible amount of offense. It offers so much offense that the top person, the person said to be “in guard”, has one mandate-escape.