By Jeff Patterson 8/7/09
When training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu it is important to understand the guard game. Not that you must always go for the guard and work on guard strategies, but it is an essential part of your Jiu jitsu game. Having a good guard in your Brazilian Jiu jitsu training will give you an edge when playing with bigger stronger opponents. If your opponent is a well versed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner then weight and strength will play a big role in the outcome of the match. In this scenario a good guard may be the only thing that can work for you.
Video of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Half Guard Pass
Details of the Jiu Jitsu Guard
To improve your guard it is important to not only work directly on your guard game, but also focus on your guard passing and defense abilities.
This will give you the opportunity to see firsthand the things your opponent will be working on you while in your guard. One good strategy while developing your Jiu Jitsu guard is to learn how to reverse the situation by using what your opponent needs to pass your guard and changing the position so he has to follow you. This will enable you to lead your opponent into submissions and sweeps or at least make it very difficult for him to pass. You need to analyze what tools you are best at pulling off, what grips work good and where your position and body weight should be. This will help you to see the openings your opponent will be looking for and close the gaps or change the position before he is successful.
Your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guard game will vary from person to person. Some people are very flexible and will have very different strategy than someone who is slow or has long legs versus short legs. All of these things will play a factor in the kind of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guard game you will develop. Learn the position, understand the basic strategy and adjust to it with your physical capabilities. Practicing and drilling the position over and over will help you begin to move naturally in the guard. This is important with any martial art. You need to have it in your muscle memory and be able to respond, not think first then react. This is already too late.
Being flexible in this Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guard position will open up many possibilities for you. If you are a smaller athlete learning the game, work hard on your flexibility it is important for you to be solid in the position. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has many different strategies to explore when developing your guard game: open guard, closed guard, butterfly guard, half guard, spider guard, rubber guard and the combinations go on. A tall person with long legs may prefer to work from the closed guard where it is easy for him to lock his legs around the opponent where a short person may prefer the open guard where they will focus on developing there hip movement and setting up angles of attack. The open guard is also good for someone who moves fast making it easier to change angles setting up sweeps, submissions and giving him the opportunity to reverse the situation quickly.
By moving your hips to different positions in your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guard, you will open up new opportunities giving you different and more efficient angles and enabling you to respond when the opening is there. A smart opponent will try to pin your hips not giving you the opportunity to move making it easier for him to pass your guard and reducing your options for submissions or sweeps. If your opponent is good at controlling your hips you will also have a difficult time using your legs to defend against his pass attempts.
It is important while cultivating your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guard game that you play with many different partners this will get you used to dealing with different sizes, styles and skill levels. If you get to the point where your training partner is easily submitted you can give yourself a challenge by only trying to work a few areas you are struggling with or letting him get a step ahead and trying to move back to the advantageous position. If you get stuck and are having a difficult time making things come together ask your instructor what your next step should be or what strategy will work best for you. A basic rule to play by is you need to do the technique three to four thousand times to pull it off under pressure, so don’t get frustrated if you have only done the move fifty or a hundred times. Remember, you can become successful if you put in the time. This will lead to many years of good Brazilian jiu jitsu training.
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