There are numerous different positions which you will be exposed to during your BJJ training, but the following four positions are the most fundamentally important for beginners to master an understanding of:
1. Closed guard
2. Side control
3. Full mount
4. Back control
In closed guard, the bottom grappler has their legs wrapped around the torso of their opponent with the ankles closed together. This gives the bottom grappler a degree of control over the opponent’s balance and the ability to move him forwards, backwards and from side to side.
Closed guard is the most commonly employed position by the majority of BJJ beginners. It is the safest form of guard and, therefore, the most difficult to pass. There are numerous sweeps and attacking options available from the closed guard and many of the sweeps result in the opponent being reversed into the dominant full mount position.
In side control, the top grappler is perpendicular to their opponent, with their weight applied to the opponent’s chest. It is usually the beginner’s choice of dominant positions because it is quite stable and reasonably easy to hold an opponent. It is a very stable and versatile position and its many variations allow you to adjust to your opponent’s movements easily.
In the full mount position, the top grappler is sat astride the opponent’s torso, controlling the opponent with his bodyweight and hips. It is a very strong position and is second only to the back mount. It provides a great deal of control over the opponent because gravity is working for you. There are many attacking options available from the full mount, especially chokes and armlocks. It also offers you the possibility of improving your position further by taking the back mount, especially if your opponent rolls onto his stomach in an attempt to defend. One drawback is that full mount can feel unbalanced, especially for beginners.
Back control is the king of all positions in Jiu Jitsu and the ultimate positional goal. You have your opponent in back mount when you are behind him with both of your legs ‘hooked’ around his waist. In Jiu Jitsu we refer to these as the ‘hooks’. Back control is such a dominant position because the opponent’s neck is exposed, making him vulnerable to chokes and strangles. It is difficult and awkward for our opponent to do anything to us because we are behind him.