Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Positional Sparring

Back when I trained at Razzano Academy, Dax (my instructor) used to joke that his "Basics" classes weren't always that basic.  He'd pretty much teach the same techniques he was working on with the advanced classes, but when it came time to spar, he would only have the class do positional sparring in the basics classes.  

I really grew to enjoy the positional sparring.  I found myself taking more risks because if I failed we'd just reset, and I could try, try again.  

I'm trying to incorporate more positional sparring into our classes at El Diablo, so I sat down the other night and organized my thoughts on the matter.  Here's what I came up with...

Big Mike’s Positional Sparring Games






top: submit/progress

bottom: escape

Side Control

Knee on Belly


Turtle/Panda/Hawking/Running Man

top: take the back/break down to side control

bottom: recover guard/reversal


Closed Guard

top: open the guard

bottom: sweep/submit/take the back

Open Guard

top: pass

bottom: sweep/submit/take the back

Half Guard

top: pass

bottom: recover guard/sweep/submit/take the back

Kill Zones


top: submit

bottom: escape

Spider Web

Kimura Trap

Omoplata City

Triangle City

Standing Front Headlock

Ashi Garami

Big Mike’s Positional Sparring Formats

6 minutes switching

  • Set timer for 6 min.

  • When someone achieves their goal, reset the position switching top to bottom, bottom to top, and keep going.

3 minutes

each side

  • Set timer for 3 min.

  • When someone achieves their goal, reset the position.

  • Bottom man stays on bottom.

  • Top stays on top.

Bull in

the Ring

  • Best for guard or turtle drills.

  • Line up some folks on the wall.

  • Put one in the ring (the Bull).

  • The bull assumes bottom position.

  • Next person in line assumes top.

  • Loser leaves.

  • Winner is the Bull, and stays in the middle.

  • Next in line assumes top position.

  • Continue until time runs out.

Shark Tank

  • Best for pin and perhaps turtle drills.

  • Groups of 4 work well.

  • Set timer for 3 minutes.

  • One goes in the Shark Tank and assumes bottom position.

  • Sharks line up on the wall.

  • First in line takes top position.

  • When someone achieves their goal, top man leaves and is replaced with next shark in line.

  • Bottom man stays in the Shark Tank, on bottom.

  • The more tired he gets the more the sharks smell blood in the water!

  • After three minutes is up, bottom man leaves the shark tank and becomes a shark.

  • Next shark in line becomes new bottom man for the next 3 minute round.

  • Continue until everyone has had a turn on the bottom.

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