Coach Won’t Let Me Pull Guard!

Question:¬†Whenever we’re rolling in my gym we’re lucky enough to have the space to start from standing. The way my body is built I have far more success pulling people into de la Riva etc. Then sweeping. My coach is older and from more of a judo background and I get told to stand back up if I don’t get the takedown. I feel like this is affecting me especially when I try to compete in no gi and sub only. What would your advice be?

Would like to remain anonymous. Thanks

Jiu-Jitsu Times: I understand that when it comes to the point system and rules for sport BJJ competitions, pulling guard makes sense in some situations. I understand that the points for a takedown can be negated by your opponent pulling guard on you, so you may as well get the fight to the ground as soon and as possible, right?

I get it.

But I am going to side with your coach on this one.


Because your instructor is trying to teach you to be a better grappler, not just how win a medal in a small tournament because you pulled guard and got two points for a sweep. Complete jiu-jitsu fighters have a few takedowns they can execute with precision against an opponent who does not want to go to the ground.

We see top level competitors who never try a takedown. While pulling guard might be an effective strategy within those rules, in other expressions of jiu-jitsu, getting the takedown is very important.

If you watched the most recent EBI where they had both the submission-only rules (where takedowns are meaningless) and the new Combat jiu-jitsu where open handed slaps on the ground are legal, we saw a significant shift in the strategies of the competitors. As soon as strikes were introduced into the equation, jumping to guard is suddenly much less attractive!

In a self-defense or MMA fight, being on the bottom is not the best strategy. You want to have solid takedowns to control the fight and obtain the top position.

I recall the Absolute finals of the World Championships several years back where two of the all time greats, Roger Gracie and Xande Ribeiro, met. The Absolute title was decided by two points for a takedown when Ribeiro landed a drop seio nage. This proved to be the margin of victory for the most prestigious title in gi jiu-jitsu.

Double guard pull — or “scissor banging” as it is jokingly referred to — is a departure from the spirit of jiu-jitsu as a real fighting art. Could you in all honesty say to a buddy who didn’t know what BJJ is, “This is the most bad ass martIal art!” and then show them two guys playing footsy trying to berimbolo each other? Your buddy would look at you like you are crazy!

Your coach is trying to train solid habits in your jiu-jitsu. He has a larger view of your development as a jiu-jitsu athlete and knows that he must influence you to learn takedowns as well as sports specific strategies like pulling De La Riva guard. The coach who does not push you to learn takedowns is actually doing you a disservice.

Use your guard pulling in your sub only competitions, but don’t neglect your takedowns. Make sure your jiu-jitsu is complete!


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