The following positions are ordered from the best possible location to be in to the worst possible position to be in. It should be recognized that the best positions are good because they allow one to take advantage of gravity and provide the option of being mobile or stable. Bad positions are disadvantaged by gravity and one must expend energy in order to gain mobility. Note that the neutral positions can be advantageous for either the top or bottom player based on the amount of mobility and stability each has.
These positions are advantageous because they allow the elimination of an opponent’s mobility. By putting more mass on the opponent’s body parts they become more stable and less mobile so they will be unable to escape or reverse the position.
The objective for the player in the top position is to pass the guard, while the player in the bottom position must either sweep or submit the other person. Some guards (closed guard, spider guard, traditional half-guard) are used to lock down the opponent’s movements, taking away their mobility. Other guards such as butterfly, de la riva, x-guard, and deep-half maximize take advantage of creating an unstable opponent in order to gain sweeps. The top player can pass by eliminating the bottom player’s mobility or by using their own mobility in order to pass the guard.
These positions require the practitioner to carry the weight of the top player. The bottom player will be forced to expend energy in order to prevent the top players advancement and submissions while at the same time trying to escape to a more favorable position, most likely a guard position.