Guard is a dangerous position to be in for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It doesn’t matter if it’s open or closed, you must respect it or you’ll find yourself flying or submitted. This class starts with open guard defense posture and moves on to closed guard.
I treat open guard in a very similar way to competition standup technique. I use a wrestling stance to limit my exposure and to keep my balance and mobility. Far too often, I see people lean over their opponent, squared up, attempting to control the legs for a guard pass. A good jiu-jitsu player will get hooks on the legs, establish grips, and start a sweep at a minimum when their opponent takes this incorrect posture.
Use the wrestling stance to launch your attack. If you make a mistake and your opponent gets a grip on any part of your body, take the grip or control seriously and strip it and reengage on your terms. if your opponent manages to establish a known guard like de la Riva, or x-guard, use techniques designed to combat those guards. For example you should turn your knee into DLR, and you have to strip the hooks of an x-guard.
Another tactic that is underutilized is to disengage and reset. If you don’t like the position, get out of range by one step, then reengage. If you take two steps out, you will have issues with competition where that is not allowed. We don’t run away.
When you do press your attack lead with your hips. This is a difficult but necessary posture that I’m still working on.
First and foremost, remember “Head up, Butt down.” Your basic posture inside closed guard is to keep your head out of range of your opponents grips, and to keep you hips as low as possible on the mat. Obviously, once you start your guard pass you are going to be elevating your hips, but if anything goes wrong, immediately return to the basic defensive posture for closed guard.
Again, grip breaking is very important. If your opponent is able to break you down, you will be put in a position where he can dictate which sweep or submit he wants to do. Get rid of any grips, and return to the basic posture. It’s also very convenient to break the grip and hold the arm with a 2 on 1 and pin the arm to your opponents belly. This enables you to safely step up your leg on that side for various guard passes. As an aside, it’s common for your opponent to open his guard at this point and attempt to hook your leg. Drop your knee back down and keep his guard open with your elbows and forearms. Now you have many more choices for a guard pass.
If you do get broken down, there is no halfway. By this I mean you are either postured up with you head out of reach, or your cheek is on your opponents chest and you are hunting for their biceps, looking for an opportunity to escape and posture back up.
A common scenario is your opponent is pulling on your lapel or your head to keep you broken down. Focus on freeing your head by pushing on the controlling elbow and sliding your head under and out of the control. Sometimes it will take several back and forth motions with your head to free yourself, but as soon as your head is free, you must snap upright and strip any remaining grips.
Once again, we see that keeping our hips low and taking every attempt to control us seriously is the key to a good defense. If you remember nothing else about being in someones guard, remember head up, butt down. Being inside a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu guard is dangerous. Take it seriously.