The Epic Cross Guard Tutorial That Almost Wasn't
First, before anyone gets confused and thinks this is going to be about x-guard, here is cross guard:
Cross guard is based on cross gripping the sleeve, grabbing or underhooking the leg, and bringing both legs to the same side.
A while back, I shot a series of tutorials on a guard game that my training partner Trog has been playing. He does cross guard in the same style as Pe de Pano and Tinguinha, and he knows that others are interested in it so he wanted to show how he had developed his game.
Trog was happy to share it freely, but his main concern was that he wouldn't be able to show the dynamics of the game in static photos. The way you need to have loose hips and swing them freely, how you get your opponent rocking back and forth and play with his weight on posture, how you suddenly launch your hips in different direction -- these are hard enough to teach in person, so they are even harder to show in pictures.
When I first put together these tutorials, Trog didn't want me to put them out unless he felt they adequately expressed these points. He said he'd rather just trash it than put out a bad instructional, since he doesn't want people getting messed up for trying clunky Internet Jiu-Jitsu.
And it just so turns out that Trog wasn't happy with the first run of photos we took, and so this wasn't going to be put up. But after showing it to a couple people in private, I found that if someone really wanted to get this game, they would still be able to learn a lot from this, especially if they took the time to go over it in detail and get a feel for it first.
Heartened to hear this, Trog retook some of it and added more details to make up for what he felt was lacking in the first set. I also found footage of it being taught and used in competition, so the motion of the sweeps can be show in real time too.
What I find really interesting is how he developed his cross guard game without the aid of instructionals. Only recently has he been watching Tinguinha's and Pe de Pano's instructionals on it, but what you'll learn here came mostly from his own experimentation with the basic he learned from Eduardo, our instructor. If you've seen those videos, you'll see how Trog has a slightly different style and does some of the positions and grips differently.
Basic Grips, Positioning and Sweep
There are several ways to grip and to get to cross guard, but he is the safest way that Trog does.
With his right hand, he cross grips their sleeve. You can use a claw grip, but Trog uses a pistol grip since it is less stressful on his fingers.
He grabs their leg with his left hand. Here he is grabbing the fabric of the pants, but you can also underhook the leg (as we'll do later).
Trog said he started gripping the pants after watching Pe de Pano use it in competition, since you can keep the grip when they stand, which isn't easy with the underhook. He still underhooks the leg a lot, but he's started using this grip more for standing guys (and for me, since I get him with my reverse omoplata passes, where I take the crucifix instead of passing his guard).
Next, how he gets to the official cross guard position. He uses a few other positions before going to it, which allow him to get there securely.
When he first opens his guard, he brings his knee across their chest. They'll often drive into you when you open like this so having the knee there helps him control the space
He'll drive his knee into the chest and stretch his body out to force their weight back. He's creating space to start bringing his leg over their head.
With them shoved back, he'll bring his foot up and step on their biceps and shoulder to create even more space. He said to expect them to grab your pants if you do this for more than a second.
With all that space opened up, he can throw his leg over to the other side of their head and start playing cross guard proper.
Now we'll show how he plays with their weight and posture, and how it sets up one of the main sweeps.
He'll press down on their head with his right leg and try to make them fall to the right. They'll naturally resist and drive back to the left. This kind of pressure, putting weight on their head and trying to make them lean different directions and resist is a fundamental part of this game.
When the resist being pushed over and come back into you, shoot your hips up and to the left, like you want to nail their shoulder with your butt.
Continuing the motion. His hips are still making hard contact with the shoulder as he comes up. The grip on the sleeve is extremely important so they don't pull their arm out.
This hip movement is the part that Trog has the hardest time showing in photos since it has to be done quickly and when their weight is moving to the left. You won't get this sweep from a static position. You've got to have good timing and be able to launch your hips up well.
As they fall and he comes up, he pulls their leg out and lifts it by the pants. This breaks their base and prevents them from fighting to stay on their knees.
Just another shot so you can see how he controls the sleeve and the pants as he comes up to sitting. The grip on the sleeve is still extremely important so they don't pull out, and the grip on the pants helps prevent them from turning to their knees.
Maintaining all his grips, he scoots his butt so he's sitting on their arm as he turns towards their legs. You'll be familiar with how to finish this sweep if you do a lot of omoplata sweeps, since they end in the same position.
He keeps turning until he can put the arm that was gripping the knee on the far side of their body, like he's going for reverse scarf hold.
With their upper body now locked down, he can release their sleeve and start doing side control however he feels like.
You can see this sweep taught with an alternate finish here:
That will show the motion of it better, but I feel you need to get them off balance and resisting first to get them to fall for this sweep, otherwise you'll shot over and land on your knees while they're still just kneeling behind you.
This next sweep is how Trog counters people trying to drive their knees though his cross guard. You can also get the same sweep when people do this to your De la Riva guard.
You'll notice that this is almost the same sweep as above, only applied to a different situation.
We join the action with Trog already in cross guard. His opponent has stood and is trying to drive his knee though his guard to pin his leg and defend submissions.
From here you can see how he's gripping the pants. If you got here from De la Riva, you'd be grabbing the back of the ankle.
When he feels they are really trying to drive their knee though to the ground on the other side of his knee, he turns his hips and brings his legs to that side.
Here's where we try to slow time so you can understand the hip movement. He straightens his whole body, shooting his legs and and tries to launch his hips up and over to the left.
Action shot of his hips shooting up and his opponent fall over.
Shooting his hips up and over to the side collapses their base.
He stretches their leg out with his grip on the pants, and he keeps a grip on their sleeve. Continue to side control as shown earlier.
This sweep looks and feels counter-intuitive. How am I sweeping him to that side if he's driving his knee in so hard? That's the problem I have with this sweep. It just doesn't feel like it shoulder work.
Strangely, the only reason you can sweep him like this is because he is putting so much weight on that knee. When he does so, he commits himself all to that side, and that's what makes you able to knock him over. If he's not really driving his knee that heavily or his weight is on the other leg, you won't get this sweep.
Trog said he rolls with a guy who will purposely try to get you to do this sweep, since he knows how to pull out when you shoot your hips, and you'll just fly past him and he'll take your back. So only go for this when you feel they are really committing themselves to driving the knee to the ground over your leg.
Trog also said it took trying this (and the last sweep, which is similar) "a million times" and failing it before he started getting it. Now he's sweeping Eduardo with it. It just took time to get down the timing, how you work with their weight, how you launch your hips up at different angles and the details on the grips.
You can see Pe de Pano get his sweep in competition here:
You can also see how he plays cross guard in general, and how he seamlessly moves between many other guards using the same grips. Everyone I know who's playing cross guard now watches that video constantly since it contains so much of the game.
A while back I posted a sweep and choke where you start taking the back, get the collar grip, then pendulum sweep them into the bow-and-arrow choke. Trog said he just wanted to show the whole move then, but that he actually gets it a more simple way.
This choke isn't from the "cross guard" position where you're already all to one side, but he considers it part of that game since it uses the same cross grip on the sleeve. This also shows the versitility of the game, since you can use the same grip to armdrag and take the back if they are fighting you going to the normal cross guard.
Cross grip the sleeve and figure-four your arms to break the (non-existant, in this photo) grip on your lapel. Do a crunch to bring your head and chest up. This cocks you into place for the grip break.
Arch your back and stretch out as you bench his arm straight up, breaking his grip.
In the same motion, pull his arm across as you sit up and hug his back.
Escape your hips slightly to the side so you are sitting on his knee.
Opposite angle: You can see how your hips are turned to one side, you're hugging over his back and you've still got his arm pulled across your body.
When they try to sit back and posture up, bring your hips higher, closing them so you're around their waist, sitting up on the top of their leg.
The arm that was grabbing the back reaches around their head and grabs their collar.
This has all been like we showed in the first sweep, but here is where it splits off. Instead of reaching under the far leg like a pendulum sweep, Trog does this:
Reach under your own body, grabbing the wrinkled fabric outside their near knee.
Now open your guard and swing your hips out and lift them with your legs like you're doing a pendulum sweep.
When they flip over, you've already got the grip on their near pant leg.
Cross your legs over his far arm to lock down his upper body. You can also switch to hugging on the near leg instead of just holding the pants.
Like before, you can also switch to the single wing choke by passing your arm under his arm and behind his head.
We've recently been doing a lot of training in my class from cross-guard. It's nice to see some variations on things I've been learning. Thanks for this!