26 isn't old! I'm 27 and still have dreams of national champ and all that ****, even moving into world as "giant dreams" that would still be fantastic! There's master divisions for 30+ as well, you never have to give up dreams a lot of the time; it's still good to be realistic, I know without massive dedication and training all over I'll not be a world level, but small steps build a great base.
We seem to be about same body type 230lbs and 6foot 2, and experience wise I'm a couple of years behind you, about 3.5 years trianing at the moment, but have a close training partner where we both realised our guard games were lacking as we worked on our guard passing! So we've knuckled down and just worked on it for the last 6ish months.
So having the same issue with guard—that being guard retention, it's something I'm still focusing on working on!
Agreeing with sweats here: You have to work it if you want to get better at it. The best thing is trying to get some open mat time in with a training partner and just drill that **** as much as you can for as long as you can. Talk to them about what issues you're having, how people pass the most, what you feel works a little for you etc, at your level you guys should be able to troubleshoot most of this between two of you if the other person is at least remotely capable with their guard retention.
Things that helped me get better at this, I watched a lot of instructionals after thinking about what I was sucking at as well as working on it in class. Big noted points I focused on below:
- Make it as hard as possible for them to pass, don't give them the pass (hands, legs, feet whatever!)
- Don't allow them to move around you and let yourself stay flat—YOU HAVE TO MOVE!
- If they move through your guard to side, hands up on their shoulder and bicep to avoid them dropping weight in side control—SHOULDER ESCAPE to make distance
- Bring you legs in to a half-or full hook game as they are passing to side—you gotta move your hips
- Outside De La Riva - this helped my guard retention game immensely, suddenly I wasn't so scared of people passing, I could catch a leg, recover guard/Sweep/Leglock/Back Take, so much opened up with this and it was so easy to work with!
- From closed guard work your flower/Pendulum sweeps, armbars, omoplatas—being able to threaten with these makes your guard a lot more dangerous and gives the guys trying to pass SO MUCH MORE to think about!
- WARNING - be really careful with your feet position with opening from closed guard, if you have guys with good leglocks, leaving a foot in the wrong place is gonna have you tapping a lot until you work it out. So if you start finding that happening, ask the guys what are the triggers for their setups on them, then investigate on the good'ole YouTubez for the basic setups to see each particular instance and the big "HEY I'M ABOUT TO RIP OFF YOUR LEG" moments.
Guard (closed-open) and guard retention are some of the hardest things in BJJ to work on, I feel: It sucks being underneath, and it sucks being passed. So many times you might think "Oh they've passed my guard" as they move around your legs, and you just lie there and wait for your side control escapes routine to start—you have to be proactive about making it as hard to pass for them as possible, don't just give up they're not passed until you give up the pass to them!
Drill your hip movement and posture controls from the bottom position...a lot.
First and foremost, if your instructor thinks you deserve a Purple Belt, I would not turn it down and here is why:
1. You have a grappling background and are, apparently, very familiar with top controls. This means that you are aware of your opponemnt's counters and how to nutralize the counters by proper weight distribution, hip controls, shoulder controls, and top transitions to counter the counters. This is all advanced-intermediate to advanced recognition skills that most Purple Belt level players understand. Wrestlers have the advantage in this regard when entering the BJJ area over your standard guy with no prior grappling training (I am one of the latter players).
2. If you routinley maul other blues and some purples with your top game...then you need to be recognized accordingly.
3. As you hit the Purple Belt level, your bottom game weekness will be much more easily exploited by good Purples and Browns and Blacks. This means you will hit a BJJ Platue after you get your Purple Belt that you will have to break through in order to feel like you are progressing.
By Purple Belt, in my opinion, you should be confortable in just about every position. Meaning, you don't panic or feel clostrofobic when in certain positions, which feelings lead to either a spaztic-freak reaction or stupid mistakes that get you submitted or passed. For example, I am, generally, much more "nervous" in half-guard (bottom) than I am from under mount. The options from half-guard (top position) are so much more numerous than from mount (top position) that I actually still feel in control when mounted. Same thing with knee on belly (bottom)...it doesn't bother me anymore.
You need to get more comfortable and confident from off your back. Here are some tips (which I'm sure you already know, or should know, if you're on the cusp of Purple):
1. Closed Guard is a "reset" position - generally, except for a guilotine or kimura attempt there is nothing really available from a fully closed guard (unless you are working to free a lapel and work a few different lapel wrap subs).
2. Keep your opponent's posture in check - you will not be able to fully break someones posture (particulary more advance guys) the entire time you are setting up a sweep or sub from off your back. Use the push pull method on your opponemt's posture to set up various transitions and sweeps from off your back.
3. Scissor Sweep position is your friend - Techincally this is refered to as Scissor Guard, Z-Guard, or 93 Guard (there are slight variations between each). You are not, typically, going to hit a scissor sweep on anyone over low blue unless 1) you completeley out muscle their base, or 2) you catch them sleeping. HOWEVER, the position of having your knee across their chest or stomach, picking a side, and getting up on a hip opens a HUGE amount of options for you.
4. Keep on a hip BUT keep either A lapel or A sleeve for postion checking - switching between left and right hip is a good thing, i.e., move. The ONLY time you can be stationary for a short amount of time is where you have control of their posture OR where being "stationary" is your set-up to induce a reaction for a particular transition you are going for.
5. Get a knee in, and if not, bring your leg up, around, and in front on their face - With the knee in you ca creat space and block the pass attempt. This will often get them to reset and organize another attack. If you can't get the knee in, circle the leg/foot in front of the face and get the butterfly hook in on that side. Front there you can push back and sit up to butterfly and/or sit up to hit the switch to counter the pass.
6. Do the leg/foot circle drill - (look it up on YouTube). To pass your guard, most will control your top leg with their hands (usually the bottom will be controlled by their leg OR their other arm depending on the type of pass. This drill is great for working on getting your legs and hips to work on conjunction to counter pass attempts.
7. It you loose the "posture control battle" - sit up to butterfly and regard posture control.
8. If you opponent stands or creates any space between his lega or between the floor and his hips - this is where you can transition to your more advanced guard positions. You can use the above advice to set up a reaction from your opponent that will also open these option to transition to more advanced guard positions. However, you have to be confident and understand the body movement and controls necessary to go from closed guard, open guard, half guard, and butterfly guard before moving on to the more esoteric guards.
Another tool that can help immensely is guard passing drills.
Your partner tries to pass your guard. If he does, you both reset to your guard.
If you do this on a regular basis, you'll get plenty of guard work in because it's the focus of the drill.
Once you are a blue (or any grappler making the transition from novice to intermediate), you should be utilizing specific drills that address your individual weaknesses. If you do this in a disciplined manner, your weak areas will disappear fast.
We do this A LOT.
Originally Posted by jnp
Typically, depending on class size that day, we call three guys out with three guys in their guard. Training resistance (not technique flowing). If the guy on top passes, he stays in and someone from the wall rotates in on him. If the guy on bottom is able to sweep, he stays in and someone else from the wall rotates in.
The guys rotating in get on them immediatley so the guy in the middle has to work through being tired to defend the pass AND set up the a sweep.
You can do these training rotations with just about any combonation of techniques. For example, you can do takedowns and first point, i.e., start standing, first point wins and that guy stays in.
For instructors, you use these hi-resitatnce drills to force people in to bad positions and react accordingly. These can be done with or without a "No Submission" rule...it just depends what you are working on.
Specific drills to focus on weaknesses should be your top priority as JNP said. The best in the world drill out the entries, position, and finishing of specific techniques and transitions.
Change the way you roll and you'll change your game. The old method of "figure it out during sparring", is only good for testing your overall game and having fun.
This will sharpen your technique and allows you to get a ton of experience with something fast.
Well, I see that many of you are instructors and have a quite good experience.
Overall , I noted that drilling is the key to progress. I do some drilling in class , but the often do plenty of rolling and some technique. The instructor watchs the roll , and correct your moves when rolling/after.
I am kinda ´´ lazy´´ about drilling , but I know it is a MUST. My school is runned by a Brazilian 3rd degree BB, then we have about 8 ´´ plain ´´blackbelts, maybe 12 browns and plenty of purples. The head instructor classes are the BEST in school and these always include tons of drills , guard pass practice,guard switching, etc. The problem, is that while the head instructor is always present (he lives next to the academy), he is kinda old and close to retiremente,and does not regulary teach lower belts. He just gives more attention to upper purples, browns and blacks, and competetive blues.
Generally , the classes are handled by the other instructors, and because there are many, THERE IS NOT a program, or path. Do the match, 8 blacks , 12 browns and maybe 20 purples, who may take care of the class. Each one of those guys has his own version of Bjj , and priorities. So ,many of them are not getting very deep into drilling. You have to grab what you can from every instructor.
1)I need to practice lots of drilling. I got an idea. I live in an apartment , with no space. But the condo has a big terrace , and I talked with some friends who also practice bjj. We are gonna buy some cheap mats to drill and roll at home to improve our weaknesses
2) I´ve seen that ´´movimentaçao ´´ ( relaxed rolling ,with 50 % of strenght and speed ) is a good way to improve your weak spot. Yesterday we rolled 35 minutes that way, and I used guard all of the time. I was happy because I could use weird guards that I don´t use very often
Home drilling space is great, but just keep in mind if you have open mat at training it's probably going to be easier to do it there instead of forking out cashish for mats for your apartment. And I sometimes find people are at training because they want to train, it can be difficult to motivate peeps to come round and train at your place outside of those standard hours.