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Notes on the Guard


Notes on the Guard
Original Poster: The BadBoy
Forum: Grappling & Jiu-Jitsu
Posted On: 08-03-2005, 23:51

Orginal Post: The BadBoy: Disclaimer:

I was just clearing out my network area at work and came across loads of notes that I have gathered over the last few years concerning different aspects of the martial arts. Now in many cases the sources of these copy and paste jobs are unknown to me (I forgot ok). So I wont be posting sources with a lot of these posts. Some of the work is mine but the majority of it is not. If you come across anything you recognise then please let me know so i can give credit to where it is due. I’ll probably use this as a standard disclaimer for the posts i make about these notes.

I spoke to Matt and he suggested I should keep posting my collection of notes. Not many left here at work but i gots loads more at home. hope you guys are finding them useful.

These are from a guy called Frank Benn, Don’t really know a lot about him to tell you the truth but good notes. I think Stickgrappler has these archived on his site but not sure.

Post: The BadBoy:

The Guard Part 1

The guard position is very important in grappling. Easily half of what there is to know about groundfighting — in terms of position and transition, options for submission — involves the guard. The position itself has been an area of special interest to me for many years now.

In general, if you don’t have a good guard — and ability to achieve it — you then have two choices in a groundfight:

1. Dominate completely.

— or –

2. Lose.

Following is an incomplete collection of tips on the guard, based on how I teach the position.

– Stages –

The guard has stages. These stages have to do with where your opponent is range-wise and radially, relative to yourself.

Stage One — The opponent is inside your closed guard. Also there is

Stage Two — The opponent is inside your open guard, center axis. The axis is the imaginary line running through the center of your own body.

Stage Three — The opponent is in mid-pass, at or beyond 45 degrees off-axis.

Any of these stages can have the opponent kneeling, standing, or with a post. For instance, Stage One Standing would be standing closed guard.

– What To Do With These Stages –

The goal is to know, according to where the opponent is, what stage to bring it back to. From Stage Three, you want to bring him back to center axis, Stage Two. This position — center axis — creates the longest possible distance to pass on both sides. If the man is 45-90 degrees off-axis to your right, he is a short distance from passing to side control.

– Types of Energy, By Stages –

Closed Guard

Different instructors teach different energies for the guard. In general, with the closed guard you want to hold him forward and in. Your arms AND legs do the work. A high guard is best. PULL. Keep him tight. If your legs are around his waist, this will allow him to sit upright with spine erect, post his arms on your body, and bring his weight back. From there, his arms will be able to attack your legs and open them up, beginning his pass. So, keep your legs high when your guard is closed. Hold him in tight. One arm holds the head, other arm overhooks the arm on the side where your head is. Many other closed guard positions, with or without the gi.

Open Guard, Center Axis

If/when he takes you to open guard center axis, your energy changes from pull to PUSH/PULL. Open guard positions have a push/pull energy to them. You are holding him in suspension. Usually, this means your hands are grasping and pulling, while your feet are hooking, wrapping, or posted and pushing (feet on hips, hip and bicep, knee on shoulder or chest / feet on hips, foot on bicep, etc.). There are many positions, according to what the opponent is doing, where his weight is, what kind of base he has (standing, kneeling, kneel and post), his arm work, and what kind of finishes or sweeps your are chaining together to catch him.

Also, at this stage, when his weight moves back and he is upright, you need to sit up with him. Do not lie there on your back as he sits back. HE WILL PASS YOU (more on this later). Sit up and reach in under his arm(s) with your own. This is a superior arm position, and it will force him to whizzer, should he pass. He won’t be able to settle into side control after a pass if you have superior (underhooking) arm position, since he can’t control your hips. The arm position will allow your hips to turn under, and in many cases you can get the man’s back as he passes. A favorite of mine.

Open Guard, Off Axis

Here your energy will change to PUSH. You need to get him back to center axis. This usually amounts to re-orienting yourself, more than it amounts to trying to move him. You’ll tend to block passes, do snake escapes with your legs against over-the-leg passes, etc. to keep him in your guard. THE KEY AT THIS STAGE IS TO MOVE YOUR HIPS. If you can’t move your hips while he is in mid-pass, HE WILL PASS YOUR GUARD.

This is also the stage where you are ready to turn under, reverse sitout, hip heist, or backward shoulder roll, etc. and get your base back if you need to, to either accomodate his passing motion or to set up certain sweeps and reversals.

– End Part One –>

Post: The BadBoy:

The Guard Part 2

– The Guard is Dynamic –

The Guard is a very dynamic family of positions. It is not just one position. In most people’s minds the guard is: “Wrap Your Legs Around Him When You Are On The Bottom”. This is a gross oversimplification. As I always say: half-cultivation leads to ruin. How many NHB fighters (and untold streetfight participants) went to the guard in desperation, with only this simple image of how to use it.

The guard is not a magic bullet. It IS an entangling web for the opponent, however, if you know how to weave it.

The guard is something you want to work on specifically. A groundfighter should devote a couple of days every week to cultivating and maintaining his guard skills — both pass and defend. With the gi, without the gi, vale tudo. Using the guard as a finishing position, and as a means to other ends. Sweeping to mount, side control, knee on chest, in some cases N & S. Side door, or lifting and turning to get his back. High percentage and specialty finishes — Cross Armlock (post and turn with arm control, inside leg hook and sweep, arm across position, etc.), Triangle Choke (closed and open transitions), Reverse Entangled Armlock (aka ude garami, aka Kimura — low spin setup, sit-up setup, underhook and alternate entangled armlock (pulling the wrist), one-arm entangled, various Elbow Presses, Spreading Shoulder Locks, Double Armlocks, setups for lower body finishes (more on this later) etc. There are also MANY chokes utilizing clothing, and other setups for sweeps and finishes which work off of either a body grip or a grip of the pants and shirt, etc.

But in general, you have to keep it moving. Move the hips. Do not stay flat on your back. A lot more to say on this.

– Closing Him Off –

Some of the most stable open guard positions are where you have one direction of passing completely closed off, and you focus your defense on the other direction. This is akin to building high walls around a castle, and facing your cannon out over the front door and any assailable walls.

There are FOUR directions for passing, and your grip, range, and hip orientation have a lot to do with whether the opponent can pass in a certain direction or not.

The four directions are: Over or under the left leg, and over or under the right leg.

Here is an example of a position which “closes him off”:

The opponent has reared his weight back on his tripod base. Sit up with him, and reach your left arm in under his right arm, around to his back, and grab his belt or pants in the back. Put your left foot INSIDE his right thigh, with your left knee pointing upward and outward at 45-60 degrees relative to the ground. Now you have completely eliminated all passes of your guard to your left. Moreover, if he tries to pass to your right, you can grab either his left arm above/outside the elbow (sleeve or arm) or his left pantleg with your right hand as he tries to pass to your right. Simultaneously lift with your left leg as you turn onto our right side and he will roll over onto his back as he tries to pass, bringing you on top to the mounted position.

This is one of many examples, easily hundreds, where your grip, range, leg position/hooking/lifting, and hip movement and placement set a trap for him should he try to pass or commit his weight in any direction.

– Mine Field –

I always tell my students that a good guard is like a mine field. What looks like traversable ground to the uninitiated is really a bomb waiting to go off. But you don’t know it if you haven’t been there.

– The Beach Ball –

Another truism of mine in how I teach grappling is “The Board and The Beach Ball”. A good guard is very circular. Actually, “circular” describes the motion, but “spherical” describes the shape. When the man in your guard commits heavily to pass or throw your legs off, etc., your back is only contacting the ground at a small point. This means you can compensate for his energy and rotate easily.

A good exercise for developing the “beach ball” effect with your guard is to have a partner work inside your guard, reaching in under a leg and trying to throw it off. You respond by turning with that energy, keeping your feet on him, and rotating completely through. He’s still in your guard, center axis. Tuck your head when you spin, and let your weight momentarily suspend on your shoulders as you turn completely through. You will be briefly inverted as you stand on your shoulders, spinning through, looking at him upside down.

– The Opponent Is The Ground You Stand On –

I always tell my students to treat the open guard like you are standing on something. Imagine that gravity is running horizontally, in the direction of the opponent. Pull as you push, when he’s center axis.

– Vale Tudo Guard –

With the vale tudo guard, there are only two desireable ranges: Very close, and very far away.

In close, you are keeping his weight forward and immobilizing his arms. If your strength is comparable to his, you can lock him down. If he is much stronger, or very skillful, you must flow with him. Keep his head in. Use your legs to pull him forward and in. Overhook the arm to hold that side in. Or, underhook an arm to open the door to his back. There are a good number of close range, closed guard positions and flows which will make your close range guard work very effective. Unfortunately, these flows are prohibitively difficult to explain in words.

At distant range, the legs come into play in a different way. They are able to launch him away, kick his legs (they can also be used to heel kick his kidneys with the closed guard, incidentally), and prepare to come back to standing. From not-so-far away, you can hold his wrists inside your legs to immobilize them, and heel kick his chin from over the top of his arms. Just grab his wrists, pull the arms forward in center, and bring your legs over the outside of his arms to nail his chin. Very effective. Lights out.

There is MUCH more to say about the vale tudo guard.

– End Part Two –>

Post: The BadBoy:

The Guard Part 3
– Lower Body Submissions —

This is another area of specialty that some venture into. There are many ways to set up finishes against the legs with guard. Moreover, THERE ARE MANY LOWER BODY SUBMISSION OPTIONS FOR THE MAN WHO IS INSIDE YOUR GUARD. SO, BE CAREFUL. Your legs are right there. If you are not doing enough to keep his arms immobilized and/or busy, then he will make a play on your leg.

Some of the options for lower body submissions against the man in your guard include:

1. Knee inside, step over and roll to a knee bar.

2. Opponent steps forward in and through your legs. You lace the leg around the outside to front with your own leg, other foot on his hip or inner thigh. Sweep him backward and go to a heel hook. This is VERY DANGEROUS. It will twist and tear out his knee. The knee is a hinge joint, and doesn’t do this naturally. He’ll be on crutches for a year, after very expensive surgery. So, DO NOT DO THIS AGAINST YOUR TRAINING PARTNERS IN SPARRING. Practice the move slowly in your drilling, but don’t do it to your friends. For actual fighting, this will usually not end it. If you transition to a figure four toe hold, it may. There are other options which flow off of the heel hook. In a fight, the leg lace is a good way to send him back when he steps through, though, which will prevent him from standing over you and punching you senseless. There are also ways to get his back from this position.

There are many other lower body finishing options from the guard as well. Virtually impossible to describe them in text only.

– Move Those Hips –

I have already mentioned this, but it deserves its own section. Hip mobility is one of the keys to both defending/preventing a pass, and it is also one of the keys to adjusting your facing direction for many finishes and reversals.

Cross armlock — For instance, many people try to do a cross armlock, and they don’t rotate their hips and head nearly 90 degrees. Then, when they step the leg over to set in the armlock, there is too much space there. The man pulls out his arm and passes your guard under the leg.

Triangle Choke — Same story with the triangle choke, another high percentage finish from the guard. You’ve got to rotate. Move those hips. Stick the butt out.

Kimura — With the Kimura (entangled armlock), again, one of the final stages of the finish is to scoot your hips out and face your hips in the direction you are flexing the arm. Not to do this is to make yourself MUCH weaker in finishing the man.

Sweeping — When sweeping, you also have move your hips. In the scissor sweep, for example, you have to scoot your butt out and face your hips in the direction you are taking the man over. If you are underhooking his leg with yours to roll him, you must scoot your hips out (scoot your hips right to send him left). For the rocking chair sweep, you must rotate your hips and turn your butt in the direction you are taking him. Many more examples exist where movement of the hips is essential to the success of a sweep.

Conversely, from the other man’s point of view, one of the keys to passing the guard is to completely immobilize those hips of yours. When you can’t move your hips, you can’t re-face their direction, you can’t achieve space to get your knees back in, etc. Without hip motion, you’re ruined. THIS IS ALSO UNIVERSAL TO MANY BOTTOM POSITION ESCAPES.

– A Solution to Every Problem –

Every position the opponent assumes in your guard has a formula. You must train your responses to the changes he brings to where they are automatic. You must flow. Know the formulae.

For instance, when the opponent goes both arms down and around your legs, you must automatically scoot your hips back, sit up, and double overhook. He is now stalemated. His grip on your legs will not lead to a wrap and stack pass under your leg, which is what he was setting up. If possible, insert one or both feet inside his legs and hook his thighs. Now he is trying to pick himself up by his own bootstraps.

Another example. Opponent stands up with one foot forward. Immediately go to a wrap-around guard position. Rotate to the side of the foot that is forward, and wrap your corresponding leg around the outside of that leg, tucking the top of your foot inside his thigh. Your hand on that side is holding the back of that ankle. Your other hand holds his wrist on that side, palm down. Other foot is on the hip or inside thigh. Many sweeps and finishes you can set up from here: Backward Trip, Snake Sweep gripping the far wrist (he falls face first and you get his back), collapse the far leg and Triangle Choke, etc.

– End Part Three –

Frank Benn
Integrated Arts
Submission Grappling/Boxing and Kickboxing/Filipino Martial Arts
Austin, Texas

Post: MrApollinax:

Should we make this a thread about the guard in general? I have a lot of notes from internet sources and my own notes as well. Perhaps we should all contribute to this thread to get information about the position into one place. Sweeps, movement, subs etc?>

Post: The BadBoy:

yeah go for it. i got some more at home too. Lets put all our Guard resourses here.>

Post: MrApollinax:

Here is another piece of gold from the old rec.martial-arts newsgroup:

Sweeping from the Guard

Skill in sweeping from the guard position can be very useful in a real fight, should it go to the ground.

Nobody *wants* to end up on their back in a fight. But, against most opponents it is generally not difficult to achieve the guard position, with your opponent positioned between your legs. From here, knowing how to sweep the opponent can be your ticket to a top position, and then from there back to your feet if you desire it.

The following is a step-by-step breakdown of the single leg elevator with underarm belt grip — a very effective guard sweep:

1. Opponent is inside your open guard.

2. Sit up and forward, put your right foot inside of his left leg (he’s kneeling) as you reach under his left arm with your right, and grab the back of his belt or pants. The deeper your grip, the better. Your right leg is posted — knee up at the level of your elbow — right foot on the floor inside his left leg.

3. Tuck your head in under his chin.

4. Grab his right arm or sleeve with your left hand, outside and above the elbow.

Note: At this point, he cannot pass to his left (your right), because your right arm is *under* his left arm, grabbing his belt, and your right leg is posted with that foot inside his leg. Nor can he hit you, because of your head position and control of his right arm.

5. You body is now forming half the wheel that will roll him to his back, and you to the top position.

6. With your right hand that is grabbing the belt or pants, pull him forward as you roll onto your back and somewhat leftward, while at the same time lifting his left side with your right underhooking leg. This motion and position of the leg lifting inside his thigh is called an “elevator”. At the same time, your left hand is holding/pulling his right arm down and in — to prevent him from posting his right arm in the direction you are rolling him.

Added tip: Really *throw* your weight backward and to the left as you roll, to create the momentum for the sweep. You need to bring his weight forward over you, in order to have his weight under your control to roll him.

7. The follow-through of the sweep forces him into a perfect roll-out over his right shoulder. Your deep right-handed grip on his pants or belt compels him forward, as your right leg elevates his left side and your left arm lowers his shoulder and prevents him from catching himself. As he goes over, you stay with him and come up to the mount, hooking your heels in behind his thighs as you stabilize the top position. It is also very easy to come up to a right knee-on-chest with control of his right arm and neck.

Another benefit of this sweep is the fact that it works just as well against experienced grapplers who can pass the guard well. The position of your right foot and right arm completely prevents a pass to your right, so they must try to pass left, which plays directly into your hand. When he passes left, this adds to the sweep — a perfect draw. I’ve had consistent success with this sweep — it’s a very solid standby — both with and without the gi, against all levels of opponents.

Frank Benn
Integrated Arts
Austin, Texas>

Post: :

These are excellent. Thanks guys… keep-em coming.>

Post: doubleouch:

thanks badboy for some real content here not just another who would bruce lee beat in a streetfight babble that usually fills this board!

From the guard top. When the guy on the bottom grabs cloth, you grab cloth, especially if he is grabbing your gi sleves.>

Post: zefff:

This is great stuff mate! if there was a smilie that clapped his hands in applause I would fit him in here – :mrgreen:>

Post: doubleouch:

I like the beach ball idea. Against good grapplers I have trouble playing a loose guard. I always end up getting passed. I find in these situations I can shift from playing a loose guard to playing a beach ball type guard where my goal is to get myself under them and in a balled up position. I’ll usually underhook one side and grab the belt from behind. This prevents passing on that side. When they push against me I’ll roll back into a ball and they ‘ll play riding the ball for awhile until they fall off to one side or the other. I like it because it isn’t so much a technique as a theory which means it works in more situations and can generate lots of techniques. Oh yea, if you work this you have to keep them close to you. As soon as they create separation you can no longer play that game.>

Post: The BadBoy:

Some Nathan ‘Levo’ Levertons tips on Guard Passing

Quick tip 1: Practice passing both sides. I’ve found most people get in to a habit using certain passes to only one side. Really train them both ways and your Guard Passing will go through the roof.

Quick tip 2: Most people don’t use enough forward pressure when passing. If a pass is blocked changing directions in fine but try not to back up as you end up at square one.

Quick tip 3: Develop strong postures with good base. In particular, the sitting one knee up “tripod posture” (sometimes called the “combat base”) and the standing one leg forward posture. Practice having people trying to attack you while you are in them, if you can defend against sweeps and subs in these postures it makes passing much easier.

Quick tip 4: Secure and control the hips. This is very important, particularly for low passes. If they can move their hips they can make space and angles for sweeps, submissions or Guard Retention techniques.

Quick tip 5: Practice combinations of passes. A single pass rarely works and is usually blocked, this creates the opening for a clean pass.

Quick tip 6: Close down space (same reasons as securing the hips).

Quick tip 7: Make sure you block his legs and/or control his hips once you pass. Too many people pass and drop straight in to a position where they end up right back in the Guard. My favourite positions to use are Knee On Stomach, circle straight to North/South (away from legs) or a tight Cross Body (Overhook on far arm, underhook on near leg).>

Post: zefff:

BUMP TO TOP! For a lot of great info!…this will keep me going for months!>


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