There are two basic games in grappling: the ‘mobility game’ and the ‘position game’.
The mobility game is based on speed and movement – transitions between positions, attacks and reversals are accomplished with speed.
Mobility fighters might use speed to pass the guard, and then transition from sidemount to kneemount to mount to armbar so fast that their opponents have difficulty keeping track of what is going on. Frank Shamrock back in the day, and Marcelo Garcia today are good good examples of mobility fighters.
Both of them use constant movement, scrambles, athleticism, and explosiveness to create openings. The submissions often occur in the middle of scrambles, and even if they don’t submit their opponents they basically run them into the ground.
The position game is based on weight, control and pressure. Position fighters emphasize being in control of their opponent’s body, using their weight and grips to shut down their movement. Transitions are usually accomplished slowly with a lot of pressure.
My BJJ coach, Marcus Soares, is the embodiment of the position game: when he gets his position (any position) you feel so immobilized that your will to fight is cut in half. It’s hard enough to breath, let alone formulate an escape plan!
There’s definitely a tendency for smaller, lightweight fighters to use a mobility game and for heavier, stronger fighters to use a position game.
This generalization is far from perfect, though…
There are many larger grapplers who use a lot of movement and mobility in their games and vice versa. There are also people who can switch between the two games, for example using the mobility game to pass the guard and then using the position game when they get to sidemount.
Roger Machado addressed this issue at a recent seminar – he believes that one of the best thing you can do to improve your overall grappling is to work on a game that you don’t use.
If you’re a mobility fighter, then you should work on your position game. If you’re a positional fighter, then work on your mobility game. It will challenge you, maybe even stretch your limits, and be good for your overall development.
To get you started, here are a couple of sparring drills you can add to your training that will strengthen a different aspects of your game: