For this Sunday's open mat, I put together a lesson that I thought you, the general you, would find interesting. First of all, it's all about using simple drills to train basics of open guard and x-guard. But probably more interesting to you unwashed masses is how I took everything from instructional DVDs.
So yes, you could recreate it, assuming you own the following:
Since I have taken all of the drills and techniques below straight from these DVDs, don't expect me to explain them very much and don't ask for tutorials on them. Just buy the DVDs like I did.
Open Guard Development Drilling
I can already foresee people being concerned that I covered too much material for a single lesson, so I'll save you the trouble and split it in two now. The first lesson develops fundamental open guard skills with a focus on conditioning and building muscle memory, while the second specializes in x-guard and gaining it from sitting guard.
The purposes of the first lesson are to:
And the second lesson will:
- Get the student moving well on his back by improving his hip movement.
- Condition the stomach, hips and legs for open guard work with functional exercises.
- Introduce the student to open guard and its controls, hooks and grips.
- Develop fundamental skills for maintaining open guard, such a hooking correctly to follow a moving opponent.
- Give the student a chance to experiment with the open guard without the pressure of being passed or submitted yet.
- Encourage the student to stay active in open guard, recover gracefully and not rely on any one grip or hook.
If you already have experience with open guard, I don't feel this is too much material to cover in one class sice it is mostly functional exercises, repetitions of basic movements and drilling against resistance. It takes very little instruction to get people doing these drills so there is very little to consciously remember. Most of the gains will come from developing conditioning, muscle memory of basic movements and familarity with positions.
- Introduce x-guard, its hooks and grips, and how to off-balance an opponent with them.
- Teach how to enter x-guard and how to maintain it while defending common counters.
- Give the student a chance to try x-guard with resistance.
- Train the student to sit up and engage when they don't have any grips or control on their opponent.
- Train the student to aggressively break grips and hand fight while gaining underhooks from sitting guard.
I coded the lists below so I could identify which DVD to get the instruction from. The number following the DVD code is where to find the technique on the instructional.
GD - Grappling DrillsI also coded them with instructions on how to drill or teach them. Drilling or Instruction:
DG - Dynamic Guard
MG - Marcelo Garcia
AE - I made it up
2x - 2 times across matBy "introduce", I mean to teach it and give everyone a chance to try it until they understand it.
1m - drill for 1 minute In -
Warm Up and Loosen Hips
GD 03 - 2x - ShrimpingI opened with different kinds of shrimping to warm-up and get everyone moving their hips well. I included sideways shrimping, hip shimps and one-legged spins since I felt they were all applicable to entering and maintaining x-guard.
GD 06 - 2x - Reverse shrimping
GD 05 - 2x - Sideways shrimping
GD 09 - 2x - Hip skips
GD 25 - 1m - One-legged spins
Open and Butterfly Guard
GD 40 - 1m - Leg pattycakeThese first three drills cover the more general open and spider guards. Leg pattycakes is a good exercise that conditions the stomach and legs while training them to sit up and use their legs to step on moving targets. Running the body and switching hooks quickly introduces them to stepping and hooking in the main control points (knees, hips and biceps) and develops coordination.
GD 28 - 1m - Running the body
GD 29 - 1m - Switching hooks
DG - In - Spring-loaded legsThe introduction of the concept of spring-loaded legs begins focusing the lesson on butterfly hooks, which will lead into x-guard later. Reverse bicycling further conditions their stomach and legs while training them to constantly use and lift their hooks. Have them try ride hitching with just the feet on the hips and just the hooks at the knees, so they understand how each works on its own.
GD 23 - 1m - Reverse bicycling
DG - 1m - Butterfly hooks in isolation
GD 31 - 1m - Ride hitching
GD 30 - 1m - Random hooksThis last drill gives them a chance to combine all of the hooks, control points and grips against the "generic" resistance a moving opponent who isn't aggressively trying to pass guard.Encourage them to keep changing and switching where they are hooking and stepping. Stress that the point of this drill is to experiment with different positions and find what does and doesn't work.
Get them to try hooking a wrong way, feeling that why it is wrong, then finding another good way to hook. This is to help them learn to recover quickly instead of hanging on to bad positions.
This drill will also train them to stay active when they have open guard and stop thinking of it as a single static grip.
MG 09 - In - Entering x-guard DG - In - Positioning and Off-balancing This is one of the best ways I have found to introduce the x-guard. You start by getting them to hold the position the right way (manually posing them if need be), explaining the grips and where to hook. Once they got this, have them enter the position several times from butterfly guard and quiz them on all the points you taught them and see if they can recreate the correct position.
MG 12 - In - Breaking a good base
MG 13 - In - Protecting your hooks
AE - 1m - Maintaining x-guard vs resistance
Once they have the basic position down, explain how the hooks can pull, push, lift, stretch. Explain doing the crunch to lift the leg. Explain using the traffic cop hand to maintain space. Once they've got this, quiz them on the main pressures from x-guard to see that they can remember and do them.
Stress the importance of being persistance with stretching and lifting the hooks, doing the crunch and the traffic cop hand, since this is what is going to be what keeps them from being smashed out of the position, which is the problem most people have when they first try x-guard.
Once everyone has the position and its basic pressures down, have them try maintaining it while their partner offers some resistance and movement. The point is not to sweep or pass guard but to get a feel for x-guard as a position and start playing with the opponent's base and defending some common counters.
Have the standing partner start by just trying to move around on his feet so the person
gets a feel for his hooks, his grip on the leg on his shoulder, moving around on his back, etc. Then have the partner try to drop his weight, especially on the knee by the shoulder, and pull behind their head, which the bottom man will have to defend by keeping his hooks stretched, doing the crunch and traffic copping them to create space. Then have the partner try to grab the feet and push the hooks out, which the bottom man defends appropriately.
You'll notice that I didn't teach any sweeps. This is because I feel it is more important to just get them comfortable with defending and controlling from x-guard first.
You'll also find that they'll get sweeps on their own if you just keep stressing that they keep doing the basics of breaking base and using their hooks. Once they get that down, teaching sweeps is easy.
Marcelo's Butt Scooting
MG 01 - In - Sitting guard vs standing opponent When I first watched Marcelo's x-guard DVD, I was disappointed in a way. It's all good information, but it seemed like they could have condensed a lot of it. Do I really need 6 chapters which amount to "Don't get distracted by them shoving you and break their grips"? How am I supposed to put in reps of "Ignore them shoving your head?"
MG 07 - In - Preventing them from backing out
MG 02 - 1m - Sitting guard with resistance
MG 03 - 1m - Head shoving
MG 04 - 1m - Shoulder shoving
MG 05 - 1m - Ankle lifting
MG 06 - 1m - Ankle pinning
Then I struck me: turn these into a progressive drill with isolated resistance. Now I saw a lot of value to each of these "minor" points.
Using his DVD as a guide, I started by introducing the sitting position versus a standing opponent and how to follow him and get hooks. I also showed how to deal with someone trying to back out once you have hooks (which comes later on the DVD) since I felt it would happen automatically when the drilling began.
Sitting guard versus a standing opponent is then isolated and drilled with the standing partner is moving around and mildly avoiding them as they move forward, get hooks and enter x-guard.
Then we cover head shoving and encorporate that into the drill. And the shoulder shoving, followed by ankle lifting and finally ankle pinning. Each of these new counters builds on the last, so by the end of the drill, they bottom man is dealing with all of them at once.
By building up in this manner, it gives them a chance to learn each basic step before moving on to the next. To just throw them into the final drill might overwhelm them but drilling each point before going on to the next makes the final drill much less shocking.
These drills also train the importance aspects of open guard which are to sit up and engage when you don't have any grips, and to aggressively hand fight and break grips while gaining underhooks.