By Prof. Martin Guggi
Right now, there is a lot of talking going on about Intermediate Positions. But it is hard to find a definition to this term. So, I tried to find a definition for myself.
- Position Hierarchy
We all know about the position hierarchy in BJJ. The position hierarchy is based on striking. The better one position is to strike – balance, defense options – the more points we get in a BJJ points tournament.
- Intermediate Positions
I would name these Intermediate Positions – SETUP Positions. When you manage to get to one of those it is easier to set something up – could be a submission or a pass. Regular positions are great for striking – and also in IBJJF tournaments we get points for these dominant position for the ability to strike – even if striking is forbidden. But there are other positions – like these intermediate position. We do not get points if we reach them – but the ability so get a submission is higher than in a regular position.
Example: When we want to submit someone, we need to expose the elbows from their body. This is of course possible when we keep working from the regular positions. But when we arrive there the elbows are tight on the body. Mount positions for example is great for striking, but when we want to submit from there we first need to open up the elbows.
In an intermediate position this already happened when we arrive there. That’s why they are much better for submission fighting.
Let´s take a look at this Situp Guard situation. I would call this a perfect example for an Intermediate Positions = SETUP Position.
- The fight for the guy on top can go in different directions
- Kimura trap
- Headlock trap
- Leglock – cross ashi garami
- Passing or exposing the back
- The down site is that the balance is not as great as in a regular position. In Mount it is easier to hold my position. Here I constantly have to fight for my balance because the opponent who is sitting is constantly trying to off balance (Kuzushi) the guy on top.
What do we need to make the different attacks work?
- Kimura Trap: To hit any Submission there are definitely much more principles to follow to get to the submission but I want to start with one general principle.
The elbow needs to be exposed from the body!
Looking at the situation the guy on bottom needs to hold his position to not fall back. He uses his arm to hold his position.
- Headlock Trap: To hit a front headlock we need to bring our armpit above his head. This happens very often in the scrambling of a fight and also in this SitupGuard situation.
- So much is being said about leglocks right now. But to enter the world of leglocks there is one principle to follow: control a knee by having at least one leg between his legs.
- Passing or exposing the back: Passing is always an option. If points are given it is always a good option. If not, then it is still a good option to open up situations to create new situations for submissions or other intermediate positions.
I think it is not wrong to fight my way into regular positions to get points or strike according to the rules. But in a Submission based fight we can save a lot of time going straight to the submission instead of finding the regular positions first, even if we do not get points for these Intermediate Positions.
Cross Ashi Garami or the Kimura Trap does not bring us any points in fighting but we have a great amount of control of the opponent and the control is the first step to Setup a submission.
- What is an Intermediate Position?
So many athletes and coaches talk about Intermediate positions. An athlete whose game is based on inverting and berimbolo, an athlete who relies on pressure passing and so on… so what is an intermediate position. I think if you get a deeper understanding of your game you find your own Intermediate positions because you do not need to have the submission locked in but from a certain situation of a fight you know what is going to happen – you have trained his reactions –and this is your Intermediate Position.
But let’s investigate more general ways to identify Intermediate Positions according to our example.
- Kimura Trap
- Ashi Garami
- Passing – Back
SitupGuard is a perfect example to show these options. But we need to find more situations. My teacher Prof. Renato Migliaccio always tells me that if you find something useful, start to “turn the cube” in all directions and you will be able to use your technique more often with very similar principles instead of always using the exact same move.
- Attacks: Headlock, Kimura, Ashi Garami, Passing – Back
- Attacks: Headlock, Kimura (if he exposes the arm), Ashi Garami (Backstep), Passing, Rolling Backtakes
- Single Leg
- Attacks: Headlock, Kimura, Ashi Garami
- Butterfly Guard
- Attacks: Ashi Garami, Headlock (if you can bring him down/or if you can lift yourself up), Kimura (if you bring his arms to the mat)
- Bulldog Positions
- Attacks: Ashi Garami, Headlock ….
Of course, the setups need to be drilled but if we understand that with these attacks we always open our eyes for more ways to attack:
- Headlock – we attack the Head
- Kimura – we attack the Arm
- Ashi Garami – we attack the Legs
- Passing – we attack the back
Head, Arm, Legs, Back – this means we attack more or less the whole body and with these Intermediate Positions we start to create control situations to set up the Submission.
- Flowing through positions = basic understanding (MMA Grappling – Ground and Pound)
- Flowing through Intermediate positions = advanced understanding for submission fighters
- You need to understand the systems behind them
- Headlock System
- Kimura Trap System
- You need to understand the systems behind them
If we start to attack the Arm – the Armbar gets exposed as well
- Leglock System
- Back attacks – Straight Jacket
- You need to fight for submission-based rule sets