5 Mistakes When Passing The Guard

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I want to talk about something that people who are new to jiu-jitsu may find beneficial: some of the common mistakes people make when trying to pass the closed guard.

The closed guard can be a devastating position for newer students because there is a lot less freedom to move. This can lead to several mistakes and techniques that “appear to work” , but really only work on other white belts.

Some of these may be more controversial and this is only my opinion. If you don’t agree, feel free to leave your own input.  Here are just a few of the common mistakes new practitioners make when passing the closed guard.

Hands On The Mat

A general rule of BJJ is to always keep your hand off the mats. Putting your hands on the mat in the closed guard leaves you susceptible to a variety of attacks, most commonly the Kimura and Omoplata.

Standing Without Posture

Simply put, if you are looking straight down while you try to stand, you’re going to have a bad time. When you look down, two things happen. First, it is easier to break you down before you stand. Second, once you stand, you are walking into many sweeps (turnover style) which will land you directly in mount.

Remember: if you do not pass guard, you do not collect any points.

Elbow Grinding

I’m not sure where this started, but please stop grinding your elbows into our thighs. I have trained at a few different gyms and this has never been taught, so where are students getting it?

While it is uncomfortable and can leave some hard to explain bruises, it simply doesn’t work. Once people on the bottom know what you are doing, in most cases, it just pisses them off.

The Can-Opener

This is a real technique that some gyms will teach, but I don’t see how it can work on someone your own size (and I’ve tried it on plenty of people). If you enjoy this position, please either skip to the next tip or listen with open ears. The position leaves your arms exposed to arm bars, and even if you tuck your elbows, you are fighting someone’s whole core with just your arms.

This doesn’t make sense to me.

Tucking Your Chin and Arms in, and Backing Away

This strategy can actually work and save you from being submitted for a short time, but in the end, it will hurt your BJJ game. By simply trying to stop everything and not engage, you will never learn. In order to truly get efficient in BJJ, you have to take chances.

I train at a Pedro Sauer affiliate and have attended many of master Sauer’s seminars. He often calls this “anti-jiu-jitsu”. And that’s exactly what it is. Jiu-jitsu is about flow and counters, not simply trying to prevent anything from occurring.

So, I hope this can help a few lower belts improve their game and open a few eyes. I hope that I didn’t piss too many people off. It is only my opinion, and you are certainly entitled to your own.


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