The guard is one of the most essential positions you’ll learn in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In fact, it is the position that separates Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from all other martial arts. From this position, one can choose to sweep or submit their opponent using the guard of their choice.
The guard position usually takes place on the ground, from either a seated position or on your side. Throughout your BJJ journey, you’ll encounter many different guards, ranging in complexity and control establishment. Adding to its complexity is the many different variations of each guard, depending on the style of the instructor. As complicated as it may seem, the development of an impassable guard is something any practitioner can achieve.
Here are 6 easy ways to develop an impassable guard:
1) Establish good grips.
Your grips are what allow you to control your opponent. It determines the distance and space you can put between the two of you and gives you the opportunity to set up your guard. To develop a strong grip, try exercises such as the farmer’s walk with kettlebells or simple gi pull-ups.
2) Maintain an active guard.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it is important that you should always switch to the most advantageous position for you – even if it means using a different kind of guard. Many practitioners make the mistake of sticking to one guard and forcing it. Although this may work in the beginning, as you progress, you will find that it is more difficult to catch up with your opponents with better guard passing skills.
3) Never stay flat on your back.
Staying flat on your back is one of the biggest no-nos. Although some guards require you to be flat on your back, you should work on switching to another guard once you feel that you are at a disadvantage. Also, being on your side gives you more leverage to sweep your opponent or move in another direction.
4) Improve your flexibility.
You don’t need to be able to do a split or put your legs behind your head – simple hamstring flexibility is sufficient to enhance your guard game. Flexibility allows you to recover your guard easily as well, preventing your opponent from passing. To work on your hamstring flexibility, try static stretching and holding it for at least one minute or as long as you can take it.
5) Keep those hips moving!
Evolve MMA Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors Bruno Pucci and Marcos Ratinho both agree that hip movement is essential for developing a good guard. It gives you the space, leverage and force you need in order to apply your techniques. The more you move, the less likely your guard will get passed! To practice hip movement, try doing solo triangle drills before or after training.
6) Find the style that suits you best.
The more advanced you become in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the more styles you’ll come across. Try to find the style that suits your body type the best and adapt it to your game. For example, athletes with more flexibility such as BJJ Blackbelt and MMA World Champion Shinya Aoki prefer using the rubber guard. In this video, Shinya shows one of his winning chokes by using the rubber guard:
Try one or more of these tips out and see which works best for you!