16 Important Tips for Closed Guard
These are very important aspects to practice and remember with the closed guard. These tips are especially helpful with no-gi.
- When having your opponent in closed guard you don't want to give him any space. Space for him means more opportunities to work a pass.
- As with space you do not want to let your opponent get his posture. When he has his posture he is now able to get his elbows in and head up to work out of your guard.
- You want to get control of your opponent's hips, head, and upper body.
- Always have your legs higher up on your opponent's waist, closer to his upper back. When they are higher up it is much harder for him to sit back and get his elbows in. You also have your hips off the ground, which allows for better movement on the bottom.
- Knock his hand off your body. When he has his hand flat on your body he has the opportunity to push off of you. Like stated before though, if your legs are higher up his waist/closer to his upper back, it is much harder for him to push on your body and regain his posture.
- Pull him in with your legs. Do not rely on using just your hands to pull your opponent in close to you. It will not work. Your hands against his whole body are not an even battle. You want to close your legs tightly around your opponent and bring your knees into you, which will cause your opponent to lunge forward.
- Control his head. This is a really important point. Where ever the head goes the body goes. So you want to try to control your opponent's head most of the time at least until you have moved onto something better. If you have ever experienced someone constantly pulling down on your head while you were in their guard, you would probably agree that it is very frustrating at times. Also when you pull down on their head you want to pull down on the upper back of their head because that is where you get the most leverage. It is much harder to pull down on your opponent's head once you get closer to his neck area. Donít control directly on the neck
- Try to control his arms/shoulders. Immediately when you gain control of your opponent's head and bring him close to you, you want to get control of at least one of his shoulders or arms. This gives you a lot of control. You can either overhook one if his arms or underhook one of his arms, but always remember to keep control of his head.
- After you gain control of your opponent you want to start moving your hips out so you can start working some attacks. Most attacks are going to come from the side or with your hips out. So you need to be a step ahead of your opponent and start moving your hips out right away. The more you stall the more he has to work. Many people make the mistake of not angling out while having a closed guard. It is very possible to have tight control with a closed guard and work angles at the same time.
- Any movements you make, you want to stay tight at the same time. An example would be to place one of your feet on the ground to aid in scooting your hips out, but as you do this you will always keep control of your opponent's head and shoulder/arm. This way he can't sit up. Once you get your hips out you want to immediately get your legs tight around your opponent's body again. Think of yourself as a Boa Constrictor, always on the move but staying tight at the same time.
- If you feel you can't stop your opponent from getting his posture and opening your legs. You need to always open your leg voluntarily before he does. Remember you want to always be a step ahead. If he forces your legs open, he will have the upper hand and will most likely be able to control your legs and hips. Always be ready to react and go into a position if you feel your opponent is going to open your legs.
- When he sits back, try to sit up with him. Remember you always want to be tight. When he goes to push you back, lots of times he will open up an opportunity to gain control.
- Always practice regaining guard control. During your practice sessions work on letting your partners open your guard and work passes. Then fight your way back into guard. First off, always practice your hip scapes (shrimps), this is a really important fundamental movement that is used in a ton of techniques involved in grappling. Secondly, do not let your opponent get control of your legs above your knees, close to your waist. You are in a bad spot if your opponent gains control of your legs close to your hips, or even worse gains control of your hips all together.
- Remember a lot of the grappling game especially on the bottom is in the hips.
- Always practice your backward rolls. These are very important in getting back to your knees if your opponent stacks you up and there is no way for you to stop him from passing your guard. If you can roll back to your knees, you're in a much better position. Also work on getting back to your knees during your grappling sessions so you can increase your reaction time.
Also remember that the closed guard can be a great tool and many attacks and advantages can come from it. Remember to work with it. Too many people use the closed guard to just hold their opponent and stall.
- Always practice your shoulder bridges. These are very important for you if your opponent does pass your guard. You can develop the right mechanics and reaction time to bridge into your opponent and back on your knees, or make at least enough space too scoot back into guard.
Thanks for reading!
I think lists this long are a bad idea. Many of these can be synthesized down to something more manageable.
--Added on edit: I think the list content is useful. I realized my post sounded like I disagreed with the content.
I figured I would just post some basic concepts that I feel are important for this aspect of the closed guard game...what type of format would you have in mind cyrijl just for conversation sake?
Great check list.
Originally Posted by Sifu Rudy Abel
"Also remember that the closed guard can be a great tool and many attacks and advantages can come from it. Remember to work with it. Too many people use the closed guard to just hold their opponent and stall."
This usage of the closed guard is something you see a LOT of times in bjj/grappling/mma matches. Even the closed guard can be a dynamic thing and it pisses me off when I see some of the guys in my team just laying there, waiting for something to happen! Jeez:viking:
Those are good guard tips, I am trying to be more aggressive and actually do something in the guard. My first few months consisted of me pulling a weak guard and then laying on my back like a highschool cheerleader on prom night till I got passed.
Now I am trying for more attacks, sweeps, or just trying to make the guy uncomfortable while I think of my next sequence of moves.
Great list!! Very helpful things especially for a noob like myself. I can't wait to pwn the other white belts
At my gym, most things are taught with 5 very basic points for quick references with more explanation under each if necessary. I think this has really helped my game quite a bit. while drilling I can think of the finer points, but when rolling I just need to focus on the 5 most important things.
I have been out for a few weeks but something like this (I should start to take notes in class or see if the instructor has a book):
1 - Control Opponents Hips
2 - Close Space (this could be #1 I forget)
3 - Kill Close Side Arm
4 - Kll Far Side Arm
5 - Transition or Attack
And then for each of the 5 main points there might be 3 or so details. We have done this with open guard and side mount at my school and it is a world of difference over the other places I have gone.
It also encourages directed self learning. Once you get the main points, students can ask questions if they get stuck at certain parts. These questions help direct the finer points. For example:
Killing the close arm.
From side control cross control (one arm on each side of your opponent). Bring the arm closest to the head of the opponent to your waist side and your other arm to the waist ofd your opponent (to limit opponent movement/ this is the basic side control hold). Then basically kesa-getame your knee under their arm to limit their ability to move into you.
Once the close arm is killed you move onto the next point. It doens't matter in reality how you get to killing the close arm. No matter what you do, this is still a fundamental part of the side mount game.
When Matt Thornton came to give our seminar, he stressed the importance of fundamentals over techniques. At my school we really focus on the five main points of every position/attack. Then we can decide how to get from point A to point E.
And before somone asks, no, we do not have exactly 5 points for everything.
While I think there is a lot of useful information in this checklist, the problem I see with it is that much of it can't be done at the same time, or there are contradictory points. Also, there are very generic statements that sound great but really don't offer a lot of concrete advice to lower belts, who are probably your main target audience. Kind of like a fortune cookie approach to grappling.
For example, "you want to get control of your opponents hips, head, and upper body". That's easy to say, harder to do, and offers no advice where to start. I want to control my instructor's hips, head, upper body & sweep him and tap him out with an armbar when he gets back from the Mundials too, but it's probably not going to happen for a few more years. I mean, it's like saying "grappling is all in hip movement". It's true, but BFD and how does it help?
Another example - "always have your legs higher up on your opponents waist, ..." Oh really? True if you're playing rubber guard, but there are tradeoffs to that game - later on you say "When he sits back, try to sit up with him. Remember you always want to be tight". How are you going to accomplish sitting up into your opponent from rubber guard or a high guard? A high guard can leave the opponents hips free. Not saying you can't build a good game out of it, but you need to be aware of that to do it.
Another example - "Always practice your backward rolls. These are very important in getting back to your knees if your opponent stacks you up ". WTF???? How many times have any of you done a backwards roll out of a stack to get to your knees against a resisting opponent who has pressure and control of your legs?
No offense, but the list to me reads more like a lecture from my little sister. I mean, I guess Jason Scully is a legit purple belt under Kurt Pellegrino, so props on that, but I'm just not a big fan of the checklist approach to grappling. Lloyd Irvin has some big huge expensive grappling guide thing too that I wouldn't buy. I mean Mike Fowler under Lloyd didn't get where he is checklisting his way through class - more like 6 days/week training and tournaments. I also am a real prolific note taker, but I think notes mean something to me because I put the mat time in and my notes trigger memories connected to muscle responses - so I can "feel it" too.
I do like the GrapplersGuide.com forums there. I haven't spent a lot of time there, but will probably look over it more - it has the potential for being a decent repository like a bunch of others that are out there.
I appreciate the detailed response to the tips....and I do understand where you are coming from...You may be reading into it a bit much though...the tips aren't really mean to flow with each other..they are points that should be done at certain moments...and I guess I should have used more specific details with each point and that is my fault for that.
The list is mainly to give anyone even 1 idea that can help their closed guard game. If I have time maybe I'll rewrite it and clarify more. Also it is just something that I really did for myself personally and then added to it so it can possibly help others.
It's also not meant as an instructional document that is why their aren't specific steps to do. It is meant as a way to give people something to think about. For example with the get control of the hips, head, and upper body part you can accomplish this by:
- Getting Head Control
- Obtaining an Overhook
- Having your legs up high (Which I guess is more torso control because it aids in your opponent having a harder time sitting up)
For the "Your always want to keep your legs up high" part, this is the general rule..When you ride your legs up your opponents back it makes it harder for him to posture.
For "When he sits back, try to sit up with him. Remember you always want to be tight", this is for when your opponent is able to create space and work to posture. When he does make it possilbe for him to sit up, it's a good idea follow him and work to stay tight with him. Because you are working a "closed guard" at the time.
For "Always practice your backward rolls. These are very important in getting back to your knees if your opponent stacks you up", this is a very common and valid way to scramble out of a double stack pass, and even single stack pass at times....It isn't taking in consider your opponent's actual positon or if he has perfect positioning, but it is very valid and I and many other people have used this to get to theknees, scramble away, or reguard.
It's definitely NOT an organized checklist. They are just "tips". If someone uses one and it helps great. If someone uses two and they help great.
Also this is why I posted this in the forums so we can have discussions about it and learn together.
Also I want to apologize to cyrijl because the two concepts we're talking about were different. He was talking about a more organized system then what was posted in this thread. I do still believe you can have a list of things but for a specific situation. This list of "tips" was and is meant for a general position and not a specific situation.
I appreciate yours and everyones coversation about this and all grappling subjects.
Last edited by jasculs; 8/22/2007 11:17am at .