In Defense of the Pussified Guard Pullers and Butt Scooters

The internet was recently abuzz, everyone openly criticizing one of the Miyao Brothers for his performance in a match against Samir Chantre. If you haven’t seen the video, basically Miyao is scooting around on the ground while Samir wanders around awkwardly not really interested in engaging on Miyao’s terms. There has been a lot of talk about the “pussification” of jiu jitsu, specifically in regards to butt scooting and guard pulling…

I have two very distinct thoughts on guard pulling/butt scooting:

  1. I am a guard pulling butt scooter. I do it because the two points/whatever positional advantage working for the takedown will grant me are not worth the effort and because my guard is an unusually dangerous one. I am not ashamed of this, but I have been openly criticized for saying this in my articles, and that’s fine. My butt scooting/guard pulling ways have won me many tournaments; including ones where I entered the purple belt/advanced no gi brackets. Butt scooting and guard pulling work very nicely in the confines of most competition rule sets in jiu jitsu.
  2. Working for the takedown is GOOD JIU JITSU. Guard pulling/butt scooting is NOT. I say this to address a grander scale: jiu jitsu that is applicable both in competition and in a street altercation. Your goal should be to be able to dictate where the other person is.       If you pull guard in a street fight you’ll probably get stomped on. If you hit a hard double leg takedown, you are in a much better position. This is not an arguable fact, and yet there are fairly high level jiu jitsu guys have never taken anyone down in competition. Don’t believe me? Find even ONE video of one of the Miyao brothers taking anyone down.

Most competition rule sets in place today neglect the takedown. They just do. If the guard pull were penalized, or takedowns were made more valuable, we’d see more takedowns in competition. This is the “pussification” of jiu jitsu that we keep hearing about. Competition jiu jitsu has evolved into a bizarre game of twister, much like competition Taekwondo is basically tag with feet.

My coach, Pablo Castro, constantly talks about the “game” of competition. When you compete, you’re essentially playing a game that has specified rules. The rules of the game that is most popular today functionally make the takedown far less appealing. Takedowns require us to do certain things with our bodies that may be uncomfortable for some. I’ve had many matches against decent wrestlers in which I simply sat down at the first legal moment, and waited for them to get frustrated enough to engage me. Oh and then I submitted them. All of that time spent learning to take me down and I negate that by putting myself on the ground and fairly quickly dispatching the opponent.

The pussification of jiu jitsu is not being caused by crappy jiujiteiros; it’s being caused by crappy rule sets. I promise that as soon as the standard rules of competition make pulling guard a major disadvantage or handsomely reward takedowns, I will reevaluate my game. I may still pull guard, or you may see me start going for takedowns. I do know how to do them, but I choose not to because the rules don’t make the effort worth my while.

So don’t be mad at the Miyao Bros for sitting down at the beginning of every match and scooting around on the mat. Don’t criticize the player; criticize the game, or rather the specific rules that are chosen for the game.

For all of you guard pulling readers: would you change your game if it meant a much higher chance of losing? For all of the takedown artists, do you really blame us for doing what we do in the confines of the existing rule sets?


  1. While I was just a wrestler, I developed my style of wrestling where I prefer being and what I prefer doing. Now I’ve found the exact same thing in Jiu Jitsu do what you feel and find comfortable. It’s competition play your game. Not theirs.

  2. Great point. I always say that myself. The only purpose or goal of any sort of competition is to win. I’m brazilian and for people that don’t know, Cicero Costa, the miyao brothers’ master has a background in judo and won matches in BJJ due to that. The twins might be able to do an osoto or seoinage, but they drilled their berimbolos and got better at them because the rules of the game reward them more for that. USA has many good wrestlers who take up BJJ and some get frustrated about the fact that their background is so easily negated by pulling guard.

    The truth is, on the streets, pulling guard might not be wise, but who can stop you from doing it? You’re dumb if you think those two can’t defend themselves, just cause they fight in this way to win against HIGH LEVEL GRAPPLERS.

    There are no submissions in collegiate and freestyle wrestling and if you pin a guy the fight is over. Where is the martial art in stopping a fight cause I have my shoulders on the floor? Judo doesn’t allow certain grips, stops mat-work after 2 seconds and people can’t grab legs. Where’s the martial art in that?

    It’s just the sport, and that’s fine. Most don’t even care about being able to defend themselves. We do it because we have FUN doing it. If you can throw in some self-defense into that, great. It is the essence of BJJ. Competition is just another aspect of BJJ, and so is diet, mental training, hierarchy and many others. So let’s have fun and let older people speak of the time when BJJ was actually effective, while failing to try, comprehend or even defend all this berimbolos, spirals and fifty-fifty nonsense. Kids these days right?

  3. I started my BJJ career as a guard-puller. Now I have some decent takedowns in my arsenal. One of the key differences is speed: I can fight against a guard-pull while setting up my own and execute it in less time than it takes to set up a takedown. This is especially true in Gi. In No-Gi I have more time and fewer grips to worry about, overall my success is better.

    There are times to pull and times to takedown, just like there are times to sweep and times to submit. Read your opponent, and then commit to your move.

  4. As you deftly pointed out, competition jiu-jitsu and street application of the art are going to be two very different engagements for many practitioners. You can’t hate a baseball player for bunting or intentionally grounding out in order to score the runner on third. In the context of a game, you use the rules to your advantage where you can. If you’re doing this, you’re not pussifying the sport, you’re finding wrinkles in the rules and exploiting them. If competition organizations have a problem with this, they can change the rules and, thus, the game. Until then, you either choose to play or you don’t.


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