Class 2014-02-19: Defense in Guard

defenseGuard 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. 

Open 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.

Closed Guard

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.

Meet your doom

2 thoughts on “Class 2014-02-19: Defense in Guard

  1. Paul, this site you made for students is a great idea. I appreciate being able to review again what was taught in last class. It adds value to my membership.

  2. Thanks. I’m glad you like it. This kind of thing wasn’t readily available when I was learning to be a blue belt, and I’m trying to get my students up to blue belt as efficiently and as effectively as possible. It’s a lot of work, but eventually I’ll be able to frequently point students to specific lessons to answer their questions. This is just the start. . . There are more things going on in the background.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.