Holds are an integral part of martial arts like aikido, judo, and jiujitsu, so it might sound like an overly-simple question - what is a hold? It turns out that it is more than it might seem. Holding techniques can be a lot of things. A hold ...
- ...is a position from which it is difficult for the held man to move to a better position. Notice that I did not say you wanted to make it impossible for the opponent to get up - just difficult. A hold is not a 'do-or-die no matter what' situation. Sometimes, the tighter you hold, the easier it is to turn you over. Often it helps to think about holds as temporary, transitory positions that happen between the real substance of the art - the transitions. A hold can be a stepping stone to the next, better position.
- ...is a position from which it is difficult for the held man to attack you. If you hold the opponent in a position from which it is easy for him to attack you, you're doing him a favor. For holds you have you position yourself to neutralize his potential attacks.
- ...is a position from which it is easy for the holder to disengage and get away. If you are holding your partner and he is holding you or has his legs around your waist or your leg, then even if it is officially a hold per the rules, it's a pretty poor one. A good rule of thumb for getting really good holds is hold the opponent such that he can't hold you.
- ...can be platform for launching submissions. Most all submission techniques require you to be positioned correctly - position before submission. But on the other hand, a hold might be so uncomfortable that the held player submits just from being held.