Targeted Sparring: Position

A ‘position game’ is usually characterized by tight transitions between positions, an emphasis on maintaining a position while attacking, and lots of pressure while in a top position. How does one become better at this game?

One good method is to spar with the conscious intention of not using speed, mobility or scrambling ability to advance your position.  If you’re doing this then you need to make all your transitions slow, tight and methodical.

Let’s say that you’re in your opponent’s guard.  Use a guard pass that doesn’t rely on speed and explosiveness – for example the ‘leg on the shoulder’ guard pass.

As you go through the guard pass pause after each movement and let your opponent try to fight his way out of it: if your technique and pressure are correct he should be unable to resist, even though you are essentially doing it in slow motion.

You can train this way using all sorts of techniques, including submissions, transitions and even some escapes. It is best to initially stick to training with people either lighter, or less experienced, than yourself. If you pick someone who really challenges you then it will be more difficult to try out a new game.

After you have perfected your slow motion crushing guard pass, or the unstoppable armlock from sidemount, then you can try it out on your normal grappling partners.

Some isometric strength is useful for a position-based game in grappling. You don’t need to be able to deadlift 400 pounds to do it properly, however; good technique can definitely make you feel twice as heavy as you actually are.

The ability to lock into a position and feel unmovable to your opponent is central to this game. Think of yourself as a ratchet: once you gain an inch of territory you refuse to give it back.

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