Help! My Guard Sucks!

A frustrated BJJ student was looking for help on his deficient guard game.

“Once they open my guard, it is only a matter of time before they pin my legs and pass. Then I am stuck under side control for the rest of the match! My guard sucks!”

How can this student start to find a solution to their porous guard?

Here are a few ideas.

Decide on a set of grips.

There are a number of different guard styles employed by black belts, and each has its own set of controlling grips. For example, there are sleeve grips and collar grips, double sleeve grips, Dr la Riva grips, and underhook grips.

Settle on one set of grips to start and look to secure. Control those grips immediately when you find yourself in the guard. Getting your preferred grips is your priority.

Very often I see less experienced students seem confused on what they should be doing with their hands. They grab randomly with no apparent method to their madness. Settle on a set of grips, ideally that set you up for your best sweep or submission, and look to get your grips.

You need to find a position on the bottom where you feel you can control the opponent and prevent the pass before you can realistically think about submitting them.

Focus on guard retention.

Position before submission is the priority here. You are never going to get a chance to attack that triangle or arm lock if your guard is quickly passed.

If you watch high level competitors in tournament matches, you are likely to see incredible displays of guard retention.

They are always putting in hooks, creating angles, moving hips to create space, inverting to avoid getting pinned, and creating strong frames. Defense is paramount.

When you gain some skills at retaining and recovering a nearly-passed guard, your confidence in playing guard will greatly increase. You will be more willing to experiment with different guard techniques if you are not fearful that trying something is going to end up with your guard passed.

Develop a killer sweep.

If your opponent wants to pass your guard, they need to get posture and keep their base first. Your job in the guard is to disrupt their posture, base, and balance. Never allow them to get comfortable.

Do not lie back and wait to see what they are going to do. I’ll tell you what they are going to do….pass your guard! Attack their balance and try to break their posture.

Ask your instructor what is the most powerful sweep you should learn from your preferred set of grips. Now drill that sweep again and again and attack relentlessly when your opponent is in your guard!

What was the first guard technique that really started to work for you?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here