Blue Belts: What Is Your Guard?

When I have a conversation with blue belts on what they should be working on, I ask, “What is your guard?”.

Some answer quickly that they are a spider guard player or that they like De la Riva guard.

But many pause, scratch their heads, and tentatively respond “I don’t know. What do you mean?”

Often the blue belt student has grasped the fundamental positions and has some degree of proficiency in all of the ground positions. Now a blue belt, they often look to experiment and expand their jiu-jitsu with more advanced positions and techniques.

There are a lot of different guard styles to try: butterfly, De la Riva, spider, lasso, half, Z-Guard, and so on.

Bernardo Faria says that you should try all of the positions to gain some familiarity and then get really good at a few and make them your A game.

So experiment! Spend a month on De la Riva guard and make a ton of mistakes and at the same time, learn from those mistakes!  You will have some success and decide how the position feels to you. Then next month, move on to explore another guard style.

There are a few tips for trying a new guard:

1) Initially you want to look to control.

The fight can be pure chaos when you are on the bottom with the top guy furiously trying to pass with speed and pressure! In your guard you need to be able to control your opponent, slow the fight down, and make order out of the chaos.

Get to a control position where you can prevent the pass and start to look at the sweep and submission options. You will be able to conserve energy and bring the opponent into your guard game.

2) Develop a solid submission and sweep threat from that guard.

Drill the highest percentage sweep and submission attack for that guard style. Each guard has a “bread and butter” sweep and submission. Spend the majority of your drilling time on those specific techniques. Better to get a solid grasp of a couple of techniques than a shallow knowledge of many variations. That can come later.

3) Positional sparring.

World Champion Bernardo Faria is a big advocate of spending a lot of sparring time in the position that you are trying to develop. Positional sparring (ask your partner if you can start the roll in the guard) will maximize your sparring time in that guard.

Also learn to pass that guard. This will give you invaluable information on what your opponent is trying to do to pass your guard.

Bluebelts: Experiment and find YOUR guard!

Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times: 3 Common Guard Mistakes


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