A position is a resting place for the body and sword at the beginning of an attack typically in longsword or cut-and-thrust rapier. Similar to a guard, codified positions are used as instructional aids to help a student identify all of the attacks and defenses that can be made with a particular configuration of the sword and body. Positions differ from guards in that they do not necessarily posses defensive qualities.
In most western combat systems, positions are derived from the places a sword will come to rest upon completion or interruption of a cutting or thrusting action, if that cut or thrust is conducted properly along a proper line of attack. Training in each of these positions then provides a student with a repertoire of tools and actions that can be taken from any of these logical ending or interruption places, without thought.