How To Improve Your Guard In BJJ

The art of BJJ is incredibly complex. It’s the science of ground fighting. All of its techniques are multi-layered, and a lot goes into training to be able to master them. Intense drilling and study are required to get a good grasp of the different methodologies and philosophies.

BJJ instructors will often offer a full 360-degree deep-dive of each technique so that students can fully understand the concepts. It takes a hefty amount of time and focus on a particular technique to be able to integrate it into your skillset.

One of the most important techniques in the art is the guard. The guard is a key grappling position in BJJ, which can be utilized in both offensive and defensive situations. It’s also arguably the most common position in ground fighting.

Having the ability to fight off your back is essential to BJJ practitioners, as is being able to attack from top position. In order to gain these abilities, you must study the guard extensively.

BJJ in Singapore is extremely popular, and chances are you or someone you know is enrolled in a BJJ class in a nearby BJJ gym somewhere. Right now, you could be thinking about how you can strengthen your guard in BJJ. Well, here are a few pointers to put you on the right path.

Today, Evolve Daily shares five ways to improve your guard in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


1) First, you have to understand how to pass the guard

To be able to fortify and strengthen your guard game, you have to know and understand how to pass guard in the first place. This means you need to study all sorts of guard passes, and which types to use in given situations. In short, in order to enhance your defense, you must also upgrade your offense.

Apart from the standard full and half guard, the BJJ guard comes in a selection of different configurations, and new ones are constantly being developed. There’s the spider guard, the butterfly guard, and the De La Riva guard, to name a few. And you have to study all of them to be proficient in the guard technique.

Being able to transition seamlessly between these different types of guards is essential, conforming and reacting to an opponent’s attempts to pass. But you can only gain this ability by learning how to pass guard yourself. So make sure to train both ends of the spectrum.


2) Always be aware of hip control

There will come moments when opponents will get close to passing your guard. At times, getting your guard passed may seem inevitable. But one way to save yourself at the last moment, and perhaps offer you a way to recover guard, is by using hip control.

Hip control allows you to create enough space between you and your opponent so you can explode or slide back into guard. And whether you decide to shrimp out or go for an underhook, hip control is essential.

Furthermore, the fighter who can control the hips, more often than not, leads the pace and decides where a fight is going. As such, controlling an opponent’s hips plays a key factor in successful guard passing.

You must make sure you create enough space between hips. The more mobility you have in your hips, the easier it is to make quick adjustments and defend against a pass or even against submissions. You can do this by framing with all the available tools — your feet, knees, forearms, and hands.


3) Attack, attack, attack

A great guard player is constantly moving, always on the offensive, and always looking to attack rather than to merely defend. You must look for every opening, either to sweep or attempt submissions. If no opportunity presents itself, you must constantly try to make opportunities. This will keep your opponent having to work on defense, even if he or she is in top position.

There are a lot of ways to sweep from a guard position. You can attempt to bridge, or you can even use techniques like the elevator sweep. Further to point number two, hip movement will create opportunities to sweep or submit. By creating space between your hips, this will give you leverage to set up sweeps or even guard transitions.

You never want to stay in guard stagnantly, because this allows your opponent to advance his or her position. Great guard players are consistent in their attacks, even on their backs.


4) Anticipate the next move

BJJ Gym Lessons

BJJ World Champion Jucimar Eller teaches a BJJ class at Evolve MMA (KINEX) in Singapore.

Some call BJJ the game of human chess. In that spirit, strive to always be a step ahead of your opponent strategically.

Those who have trained in BJJ long enough know how significant a role tactics play in a fight. Being able to anticipate an opponent’s next move is essential to victory. To emerge victorious in any fight, you will need to understand how your opponents’ minds work and what they are thinking at any given moment.

This means leaving yourself open to various options and routes you can go from  the guard position. You should have multiple approaches ready to react to any attempt your opponent makes to pass guard. Whether that’s recovering position, exploding into a sweep, or attacking with a submission of your own, it’s important to have options.

You must also train to understand what specific counters go with certain attacks. Anticipating your opponent’s next move is crucial to a fortified guard.


5) Grip fighting

Two female students sparring in a BJJ class

A BJJ class is a mental workout as well as a physical workout.

Last but not least, you have to be aware of the grip fight in order to fortify your guard. The aim is to establish control over your opponent, and winning the grip fight is critical to achieving victory. Grips will secure your guard and put you in an optimal position to attack and prevent your opponent from advancing. As such, it is important to establish good grips before your opponent does.

In guard, at least one hand and one foot should be used to control your opponent constantly. This is where having good, strong grips comes into play. The fighter who controls the grip situation is usually in a position of advantage.

The guard is an intricate position to be in, with a variety of different options available. It is the foundation of ground fighting, and one of the most effective ways to control a foe. Put the time and effort into your training to improve your guard and make it difficult for opponents to pass.

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