Roles Positions and What they Mean

Sorry I’m late on this, Should have come out yesterday but life happened despite my best efforts to have life stop happening. I know ya’ll probably don’t care, but I do, so if you’re tired of me apologizing consider it an apology to myself.

So I’ve finished my series on Role and Positions in Steel fighting and want to do a bit of a wrap up. When I first started this, back like a year ago, the hall was just beginning to play with new ideas and new tactics. I gather other people have been trying things outside these models for a while but we never really found a reason to start focusing on things outside what worked, because it worked. However as we fought more and more, we learned and experimented and became aware of some things that we were doing that weren’t being captured in this model. We also began to have multiple different options of personnel so that we could run anything from 5 centers to 5 flankers at different times. Combined with our continued exposure to 3 on 3 fighting in limited space, which basically makes positions meaningless, we started discovering new combinations and play options. In no way have we explored the entire problem space of steel fighting, in any format, whether 3v3, 5v5, 10v10 or larger. We’re barely scratching the surface of what we can do. Go watch old football footage of before the passing game was really a thing. It looks so different and that’s where we are today.

So I want to stress that nothing I’ve said should be taken as gospel, even more than I usually say that. Please Please build on what’s here. Take what works and throw away the rest. Try new plays. Experiment with new line-ups. Don’t try to build your team to fit these models but pick the best personnel you can get and build models to fit them. This is meant only to give common ground for the discussion and evolution to happen with. Take it and be part of that evolution. And if you aren’t confident in your ideas and want to workshop them, hit me up. I’ll gladly bullshit steel fighting with anyone. I saw a number of teams trying newer and slightly different ideas at last Nationals and by New World Cup, I’m hoping to see even more expansion on that. I’m excited to see how this sport grows.

Alright, Enough preamble, onto the meat. First I want to talk about a role I’ve been seeing alot of people play, play well, and not get the respect it deserves. The support role. This is a guy who doesn’t take fighters down. He has no real finishes and that’s not his job. He is there mostly to set up takedowns or protect the big hitters. This role probably has a number of roles inside it but I haven’t been able to come up with good categories yet. This was the role I played for 2 years and also the main role Andrew Dione plays, depending on what team he’s on. We play it completely differently yet when either of us are on the field the effectiveness of our other fighters generally goes up by some large margin, possibly doubling.

So what does a support role do? Well first and foremost they need to have great feet. You can’t play this if you’re going to go down easy. If a punisher can drop 3 people per round, they might not need the best feet, because they can make up for it in offensive output. A support role is there to make others more dangerous and they can’t do that on the ground, nor are they taking others down. So they need to be able to handle large checks from any angle, multiple opponents trying to pull them down, and be willing to take a beating if it’ll give their team an opportunity. Because that’s often what they do.

If you can pull aggro on 2-3 fighters and keep your feet, that means your team has 4 on 3 or even 4 on 2. That’s a great place to be. How you get there depends on the support guy though. Andrew rocks the double headlock alot and also has a patented move he calls putting someone in time out. While grappling he gets them in the corner, than disengages and turns around, or alternatively just backs them into the corner. They are now trapped and can’t do anything effective and it’s real hard to escape. He can now fight 1 or even 2 opponents if they come near him, giving his team an edge. I pull in two different ways. If I’m smart I run in, and then run away, trying to draw some people with me using my speed to kite them out. Usually I’m not smart. I run straight through a line, before my line gets engaged and head to the back rail. I bring some number of people with me. I hole up there while they beat on me and then the cavalry arrives and charges into their backs.

Support isn’t just taking a beating though. If you know how to grapple in a way that opens your opponent to a punisher coming in hot, you can end that fight fast. Getting your ass to rail and exposing their back to the field is key. You can also come light up some gaps for a grappler, helping them put a tough opponent down. Knowing how to come in and assist is key for a support role. Whether by taking a certain field position or just knowing what your better take down fighters need to finish a guy off. Knowing how to peel a grappler off a punishers, knowing how to keep someone’s guard down to give a striker time to overwhelm them, being able to finish off a limp opponent after a punisher has put in work, All these are support options that will keep your team winning. And there are probably plenty more we haven’t talked about.

While I only have that one role to explore there are two new positions we’ve been trying out at the hall. We run a modified Center, Guard, Flanker line on the Executioners. When we can, we put a big man on each end, to hold the rail. I’ve taken to calling them Anchors. Off their shoulder we usually try to run a more flanker position, but a guard works too. The flankers are there to punch deep and expose the line, while guards are there to keep the big man from getting overwhelmed in a rush. The center of the line is what I call the Pivot. The pivot holds back and waits for the play to develop. The pivot is usually a primary punisher but if there is a quick takedown grappler or striker primary it works too. The line usually moves out to almost half field and the Pivot stays back a yard or two depending on field size. Either a flanker will punch or as the other team pushes on an Anchor the guards will open up on them. Either way, this usually creates a lane for the Pivot to run through and support either side, with a free shot on someone. This can lead to a quick drop and even when it doesn’t often shifts the advantage in that fight.

The idea here is the Anchor finds a spot and holds it against whatever comes. The pivot can push to either side depending on which will give a better advantage. These aren’t huge steps away from the traditional ideas, but these little evolutions allow us some more room to play, but still give us a framework to discuss strategy and tactics in. I’ve seen a number of other plays drawn up, but very few have I seen done effectively since I’ve started. I think that’s about to change though. So keep coming up with new ideas and if you have new roles or positions, please share with the class. We all get better when we share ideas.

See you in the list.

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