An Analysis of the Ban of Donkey Guard at Gracie Tournaments

photo/youtube: BJJLibrary

A while ago, I was looking into possibly competing at a Gracie Regional tournament, and I looked at the rules and found something very peculiar

“No Donkey Guard- This is just silly!  I can’t even consider this a guard.  If you were to ever do this in a real fight you would get kicked in the groin.  So for this reason, this technique will not be allowed at Gracie Tournaments.”

I had forgotten about this very specific ban until I saw it pop up on social media, apparently Jeff Glover doesn’t like his technique being banned…

In sport jiu jitsu, the powers to be (tournament promoters) have at times outlawed certain positions and techniques or, more generally, made rules to affect specific competitors.  The ban of certain joint locks (wrist locks at some tournaments, heel hooks in no gi advanced divisions at other tournaments, etc) are all geared towards limiting jiujiteiros from specific academies or affiliations who may be partial to those techniques.

Another example was the rule changes to the IBJJF immediately after Josh Barnett’s participation in the 2009 IBJJF No Gi Worlds.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about look it up.

This is a problem.  Jiu Jitsu competitions should never ban techniques or competitors due to their unorthodoxy.  If any competition jiu jitsu technique that would get you kicked in the groin were illegal in Gracie Tournaments or for that matter if all techniques that weren’t “street applicable” were banned, these tournaments would fizzle out of existence.  Don’t believe me?  Go ahead and start a street fight, and then pull guard.  Or try to Berimbolo someone…  Not saying you couldn’t make it work, but the reality is that these are not techniques appropriate for an altercation in “the street”.

Donkey Guard is basically Jeff Glover’s way to have fun in competition.  It’s entertaining.  It’s somewhat effective at taking an opponent out of their game.  Inverted guard does the same thing, is it banned from Gracie Tournaments?  If not, why is Donkey Guard?

Rules like this one are against the idea of artistry on the mat.  I was chatting with a friend of mine, Chris Kriebel, who is also a black belt competitor.  Chris is an aggressive wrestler who uses his wrestling base and couples it with solid technique.  During our most recent roll, I tried using my unorthodox game to catch Chris, often veering from sound fundamentals.  It was a lot of fun for both of us.  After we rolled we talked about the contrast in our styles and Chris provided this insight: “Jiu jitsu is an art, the mats are our canvas.  Not everyone does art the same way.”  Just because Chris wouldn’t play the same kind of game I play, doesn’t mean my game is BAD.  Every practitioner does things in their own way.

For these reasons, I would implore tournament promoters to think twice before banning any technique, especially at the black belt level.  If you don’t like donkey guard, don’t do it.  If someone tries to use donkey guard on you, beat it using your superior grappling skills.  If you can’t shut up and train until you can.  It’s really not that complicated.  #Freethedonkey


  1. This just in, the Gracie Family are elitists. I’m shocked, this has never been present before, and no one could have ever foreseen anything Gracie related restricting something.

    Paging Oswaldo Fadda’s corpse.

  2. Found out from Emil:
    Now, only black belts who are verified to have a Brazilian lineage are able to compete at IBJJF. Prior to Barnett winning, anyone with balls could claim to be a black belt and enter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here