The Jiu Jitsu Times Weekly Challenge: Open the Closed Guard

For a while I’ve been playing with some ideas to help improve aspects of my game that need improvement.  A few years back, I realized that by eliminating certain elements upon which I rely too heavily I was able to improve upon those elements that were being neglected.  Starting tomorrow, I am going to issue a weekly challenge.  I am going to suggest a specific element to focus on for one week when rolling.  We will release a new challenge once every week, and throughout the week if you’ve discovered anything interesting comment about it in the comments section of this article.

For the inaugural edition of the Jiu Jitsu Times Weekly Challenge, we are going to focus on an aspect that tends to be a strength as well as weakness of certain jiujiteiros: we are going to open up the closed guard.  For one week, do not close your guard, at all.

Strictly focus on playing other kinds of guard, and you’ll find that there is a certain element of coordination that you may lack if you rely heavily on your closed guard.  Triangle chokes are okay, even though you’re technically closing the guard up, but otherwise focus entirely upon open guards.

You may find that your guard gets passed more easily than normal, and if that’s the case that’s fine, focus on guard recovery, and once you’ve recovered, leave that guard open.  This will not be easy. This will probably not be fun at first, but as the week progresses you’ll find yourself getting used to this.

Many high level competitors today almost entirely play open guard games as they find it gives them more flexibility to transition between guards.  I think that ultimately if you can’t play a decent open guard game, your closed guard is just a crutch.

Let us know what you think of this weekly challenge.  If you have any ideas for challenges in the future, let us know, and we may feature your idea as a challenge.  This is something we can do as a broader community to improve our own individual games.  As time progresses these challenges may get more intricate and interesting.  Stay tuned!

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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


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