The Blue Belt Guard

I have noticed a pattern that many blue belts fall in love with when developing their guard positions. It is not uncommon to see blue belts with very difficult guards for even black belts to pass. They often have sharpened a specific guard position to a high degree.

I had a conversation with two experienced blue belts who were looking to strengthen their guard games.

I am fond of calling the blue belt “the experimentation belt”. This is the period where the BJJ student has enough command of the basics and ability to move on the ground to start experimenting with some of the more advanced, sport BJJ guard styles.

My advice to the blue belts was to look at the various guards from two points of view:

Your Preferred Grips

Which techniques from the guard are your best? Up to this point, you will have no doubt experienced success with a certain sweep or perhaps the triangle.

What grips do you need to get your big weapon from the guard? If you use a sleeve or collar grip for example, you need to ask, “What other techniques can I perform with those same grips?”

Ideally you can switch from one technique to another without changing grips and allowing a chance for your opponent to escape. When you have several possibilities — e.g., choke, sweep, armlock — from the exact same starting grips, it becomes more difficult for your opponent to predict what your attack will be.

Different Guards For Different Ranges

It is useful to think of the different guard styles as being effective to deal with how close or distant your opponent is.

For example, a closed guard or butterfly guard is an effective position for close quarters while spider guard or De la Riva is more suited to a standing opponent.

Now it gets even more interesting when we begin to understand how the different guards complement each other and link together.

If you meet great butterfly guard players, chances are they also have a solid X-guard game. When the opponent stands in your butterfly guard, it is natural to transition smoothly to the X-guard. Thus, we see how two separate guard styles work together and should be studied together.

Here’s the last piece of blue belt guard advice: I recommend that you pick a guard style that you want to experiment with and stay with it for a month or more. You need to allow enough time to drill the position before you have enough of an idea of whether that guard is going to become part of your game or not.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here