Jiu-Jitsu: The Donkey Guard Conundrum

photo/youtube: BJJLibrary

A couple of days ago, Jiu Jitsu times posted a video of a match in which one competitor started playing donkey guard, and the other competitor, unimpressed, decided to kick the donkey guard player.  I’ve seen a lot of comments on the interwebs expressing glee, support and agreement with the kicker, and if you’re one of the people who made these comments, chances are you’re not going to like what I’ve got to say…

Sport Jiu Jitsu is grappling for grappling’s sake.  When we sign up for tournaments we are making an unspoken contract with our opponents that says that regardless of anything else, we are there to grapple.  There will be moments in which we could kick or punch the other person, moments in which if we had a knife we could theoretically stab them, or if we had a gun we COULD shoot them, but this is not that kind of setting.

When I sign up for a tournament, I am not signing up for an MMA fight, I am not signing up for a mugging, I am there with the sole intention of trying my grappling techniques against another grappler’s.  I am placing a tremendous amount of trust in another person, and if they dishonor that trust, they dishonor the institution of competitive grappling.

Now, I understand a dumb newbie getting mad at another person for doing something unorthodox and striking them, but the guy who kicked his opponent was a brown belt.  He should have the discipline and respect to know that even if he doesn’t like the other man’s choice of techniques he doesn’t have license to strike him.

I’ve seen a lot of people decrying the Donkey Guard.  What about full closed guard?  What about inverted guard?  50/50?  Everyone is going to have their opinions of different positions and guards.  Everyone is going to think that one guard looks stupid or sexually suggestive or whatever but that doesn’t give anyone a reason to bring dishonor upon themselves and their academy by breaking that trust with their opponent.

I have a guard that I use quite a bit called the Burt Reynolds Guard, in which I sprawl myself out in front of the other person baiting the attempted pass, when they do attempt to pass I use a series of arm and leg drags to set them up.  It looks goofy, but it is one way that I use my creative license when practicing jiu jitsu and no one else has the right to break the rules of a competition if they don’t like what I’m doing.

If you don’t like what the other guy is doing at a BJJ competition, beat him (legitimately, not with balled up fists.)  If you can’t beat him, maybe what he’s doing is effective and you shouldn’t be so stuck up about it.  The Donkey Guard is silly, and would probably be ineffective in a street fight.  But then again so are a lot of positions we perceive as legitimate.  In fact when we wind up in guard, we messed up a long time ago in a street fight, as our back is on the ground and there could be broken glass there…

When I compete in jiu jitsu I’m not thinking “Oh boy what if this guy tries to mug me?!”  I’m out there to have a good time and to field my techniques against an unwilling participant with whom I do not regularly train.  Competition is great as a measure of the effectiveness of our techniques against fellow jiujiteiros.  Lets not screw that up by kicking our opponents when they do unorthodox things that we don’t like.  After all, this IS Jiu Jitsu, not soccer…

The Donkey Guard in a tournament

Donkey Guard by Jeff Glover





Emil Fischer is an active blue belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training with Strong Style Brasa and is sponsored by Pony Club Grappling Gear and Cruz Combat. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/


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