John Danaher: Jumping To Closed Guard Should Be Banned At All Levels

All sports come with a risk of injury.  Sprained ankles are common in basketball, teeth are often lost in hockey, and much attention has been brought to the concussion epidemic in football.

Even golf isn’t injury-free.

Nonetheless, some moves are not only dangerous, but unnecessary; and one of those moves, according to Renzo Gracie black John Danaher is jumping to guard.

Jumping to guard is where an individual jumps and, in mid air, tries to wrap her legs around her opponent’s waist before pulling the opponent to the ground. The move – along with other guard-pulling moves – is not only dangerous, but frequently ridiculed for demonstrating the practitioner’s lack of wrestling and takedown skill.

Danaher’s problem with jumping guard is the risk it poses to grapplers. In a recent Facebook post, he claims it is the “worst offender” in terms of falling body weight-related injuries. Jumping to guard, he says, can result in people landing on their opponents’ ankles, knees, or hips.  The Renzo Gracie black belts stated it should be banned at all levels.

Professor Danaher is not just speculating either. Even high-ranking BJJ practitioners can be injured by a poorly-performed guard jumping attempt, as the following video clearly illustrates.


In his defense, the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation recognizes the danger of guard pulling, and has banned it for white belts in its competitions.

But should it be banned for all ranks? Maybe. Maybe not. But with John Danaher – who is considered one of the best grappling coaches in the world – calling for its elimination, those who support guard jumping may be fighting a losing battle if they want to keep it legal in competitions.

You can read Professor Danaher’s full statement below:

Banning moves: Jiu jitsu is a contact sport based around the skills of breaking joints and strangulation – as such injury is inevitable at some point. Nonetheless I believe there are certain movements in our sport that are unacceptably dangerous and which do very little to enhance the desired skills of the sport. In my experience, the most hazardous movements in jiu jitsu are not the joint locks and strangles, these usually cause no injury among responsible athletes and even when used recklessly, rarely do catastrophic damage. Far more dangerous is UNCONTROLLED FALLING BODYWEIGHT. This is often the result of throws from standing position where people try to resist the throw and land poorly. Sometimes it is the result of a poor throwing attempt that results in one athlete sitting on the outstretched leg of his opponent and crushing the knee or ankle. The worst offender however, is the most common and the most preventable – the common practice of people jumping to closed guard and landing on the opponents hips, knees or ankles with their entire weight and momentum. Thankfully this dreadful practice has been banned at white belt belt level after years of unnecessary injury. It is time to extend the ban to all belt levels and training. I banned the practice entirely in all my classes many years ago after witnessing many terrible injuries. It is a worthless practice that teaches no worthwhile combat skills and has only (very) bad consequences with no redeeming features (unlike flying submissions which do teach valuable skills). We should enforce a rule that if an athlete wishes to pull guard they must make contact with their buttocks or back on the mat rather than their opponent. It is comical to see a sport where knee reaping is illegal, but the act of jumping guard, which has ruined more careers than all the joint locks and knee reaps put together, is perfectly legal for upper belts. A good closed guard should be feared as Roger Gracie’s was – for its fine tactics and technique – not the injurious clumsiness of it jumping entry. The sport needs to ban this dangerous movement that does nothing to promote the skills of the sport and does much to reduce its safety


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