Open Roll "The difference between 'full' and 'half' positions"
Between rounds and while working with my partners I made an observation, people often try to hold positions that are anatomically or physiologically not structurally strong positions. For example, after aggressively attacking with an armbar and losing their partner's arm they remain in that position and try to hold their partner there. They've lost the submission and now they lose position, getting passed, reversed, or into a scramble from a poor position. Rather than treating that submission or sweep as a transient moment in the spatiotemporal tapestry that is combat, it becomes a fixed obstacle of our own creation in our own martial path. In striking we don't stand frozen in one spot with an extended jab, just because we threw one earlier from that position and are hoping our opponent will graciously wander back into it and damage themselves. Why then do this with grappling?
So I came up with a schematic, trying to graphically represent this thought, that or just draw a whole bunch of lines with the standards of every martial arts logo: a circle and a triangle. The standard core of any fighting style has fundamental positions. Let's call these full positions, for example mount, rear mount, side mount, closed guard, kesa gatame (judo's side headlock), north-south, etc. These positions work well both dynamically and statically. That is, they can be active to transition or attack as well as being immobile for pinning, stalling or resting. In short you can accomplish a lot with minimal energy expenditure. They are a safe reference point to which we can begin at, return to, and finish with.
The positions in between are solely dynamic, these are the half positions, e.g. the half guard, hooks inside, triangle, leg over the head arm bar position, etc. These positions involve near constant movement being both offensive and defensive but the moment you become inactive in them is when the other guy's going to get away with something. One of the ways to shut these positions down is for the opponent to stop your movement, that is stack, sprawl, or drop his base through the floor. You have to invest a certain risk in these for them to work.
Neither group is superior to the other. Without full positions you have no fundamentals and no reference points but without half positions you don't have a game. You have to drill all positions from both sides and realize that reliance on just one position while making you dominant from that spot still means you have to get to that spot. But Joker-sensei, Fighter X only does this position and he's undefeated! Sure he is, he's refined one of the positions, but don't think for a minute that he hasn't drilled, tested, and sparred with all the others, too. He might be famous for one, but he's trained them all.
No discussion of position would be complete without touching on offense and defense. In the broadest of strokes, defense is accomplished by creating space while offense is closing space. Yes positions can be stalled out and defense set up by closing distance. It is also true that to finish submissions you sometimes have to move away from your opponent. But in general when in trouble get away, when causing trouble get closer. Both are active or dynamic processes. Offense has to be dynamic and thus creates openings for defense. However, provoking defense causes an active response which can set up offense. In either case there will be a battle for full and half positions that creates the interplay of offense and defense.