Since the 1990’s, there is no doubt that ground fighting has finally gotten the respect it deserves in the world of competition, martial arts and self-defense. Because it has been some time since those early years of the UFC and other “no rules” tournaments, I thought it would be a great idea to take a step back and review one of the basics of grappling, which is positions.
Attempting to simplify things as much as possible, there are eight basic positions on the ground. We’re going to walk through each of them, and explain each of the eight. I also want to go one step further, as elementary as it is, and point out which is the “superior” and “inferior” position in each.
The first is “mount and under mount” positions. In this position, one person is sitting on top of the other person’s chest. I’m starting here because there should be no doubt as to which position is the superior and inferior of the two. Obviously, the person “on top” has a great advantage, as they have gravity on their side, in addition to a massive amount of leverage. It should also be noted that the person on top, is able to strike the other person’s face without putting their own in reach.
The next is cross side position, where one person is lying perpendicular to the other, chest to chest most of the time. It is simply called on top of cross side and under cross side. Once again, the person on top has the advantage with leverage and gravity, and just like mount, even greater control.
The fifth and sixth positions are on top of “north south” and under north south. This is imilar to mount, but the person on top is facing the other direction. The person on top does not have as much pressure on the person, because less of their body is pinning the other down, but they still have greater leverage and what many of these superior positions have: ability to escape if they want.
Lastly, the seventh and eighth positions are “in guard” and “guard”. Because these positions really don’t have a place in wrestling most westerners were not familiar with these positions pre mid 1990’s (UFC era). As the 1990’s came to a close, these positions were really made popular with the tournaments talked about before, and arts such as Brazilian jiu jitsu.
Submissions, escapes and other moves fall outside the scope of this short article, but as they say, “you have to start somewhere”. This is where I usually start my novice students. These eight positions are as basic as they get, and from here the “ground work” is laid to build other grappling knowledge.