3 Common Noob Guard Mistakes

If we observe enough white belt rolls in the academy, we will spot certain patterns that tend to repeat themselves.

A white belt playing guard gets their guard passed and ends up in the bane of the white belt’s existence: trapped underneath heavy side control. Uughhhh!

If we review the video of the action that preceded the pass, I’ll bet you that it was because of one of these mistakes.

Not moving the hips

Unfortunately for first year students of BJJ, moving the hips on the bottom is not an intuitive skill. We tend to perform most of our physical tasks in our daily lives using our arms. We need to learn to overcome that habit and train to use our legs like our arms and also to move our hips.

Here is how a lack of hip movement hurts the white belt guard player. They stay flat on their back and either grab tightly or alternatively push the opponent away. I call this “locking horns” with the passer. The passer has the advantages of both gravity to apply top pressure and freedom of movement to move from side to side.

The guard player who is flat on their back has too much friction with their back on the mat and the passer quickly gets by their legs with superior speed.

Forcing submissions

“When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” There is correct timing to use specific submissions and a time where the submission is unlikely to be successful.

For example if your opponent is wise to what you want to do, it is unlikely that you will be successful. You need some element of surprise. This is difficult if you have a limited number of weapons in your arsenal.

If you have fallen in love with the arm lock from the guard and insist on attacking with it even when the opportunity is not there, you create an opening for your opponent to pass your guard.

A better strategy is to use the correct technique for the situation. Much of this comes from experience.

3) Hanging onto a submission for too long

This is certainly one of the most common causes of passed guards.

Let’s say that you are attacking a triangle but your opponent has managed to get a strong posture to defend. But you really want to get that triangle! So you hang on desperately even though you have poor control. They start to stack you up and soon pass your guard.

A better guard strategy is to admit, “Ok, I can’t break the opponent’s posture. Better abandon ship!” And go back to guard retention.

What do you see as the most common white belt guard mistake?


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