Along with Ricardo De la Riva, Shawn Williams is one of the only two people to have a famous guard named after them. Yes Keenan has innovated many guards in his time, but there is no Keenan guard yet.
Shawn Williams actually discovered the Williams guard quite by accident after a chance visit by fellow guard innovator Nino Schembri. Nino visited Renzo’s near the end of 1998 and was using his early version of Rubber Guard, Shawn saw this and began to play with it himself. During a MMA training camp for Rodrigo Gracie, Shawn found opponents were slipping out of his guard pretty easily. During this, totally by accident, he laced his arm through his leg as he was attempting the Nino Rubber Guard and Bam, the Shawn Williams Guard was born. Shawn continued to work on this new guard and improve the position and attacks from it until it became the powerhouse of a guard system it is today.
The Williams Guard is a very powerful guard position similar to the Rubber Guard. But unlike the Rubber Guard, the Williams Guard uses angles instead of flexibility to break your opponent down. The guard is a tight clinching type of closed guard where you over hook your opponent’s arm angle your hips out and lace your overhook arm through your own leg.
Once in this position your opponent’s posture is kept down by rotating your hands and knee toward the mat, putting tremendous pressure on their shoulder making it very difficult for them to posture back up regardless of size. This position does however take away some of your hip mobility negating your ability to sweep or take the back. It makes up for this with its amazing posture and positional control and the numerous submission attacks available from here. The Williams Guard is ideal for Mixed Martial Arts because of how easily it makes defending strikes from your opponent. Once you are able to angle out and break their posture down they are unable to land any significant strikes on you. Also due to the control it offers you, you could just stall and force a stand up, or there are countless submissions to attack from the Williams Guard. One of their arms is completely isolated from their body making elbow and shoulder locks incredibly easy. The Omoplata and many variations of the Triangle choke are redily available too. There are so many options to work for off of the Williams Guard and you can always use it as a transition to other kinds of guards. A very interesting and detailed write up on the Williams guard can be found here: https://forums.sherdog.com/threads/the-williams-guard-a-compendium-gif-image-heavy-long-post.2650585/
Shawn Williams has had a very distinguished grappling career. Besides his numerous titles and accomplishments on the mats, Shawn is also one of the most sought after grappling coaches. Coming up through the ranks at Renzo Gracie’s with monsters of the sport such as Danaher, Matt Serra, and Ricardo Almeida help mold Williams into a very knowledgeable and technical grappler. Describing his time at Renzo’s he describe it as training like animals, but technical animals because Renzo always made sure the technique was there. Due to his vast knowledge of grappling Shawn has been asked to coach for many top MMA fighter’s camps, such as GSP, Rodrigo Gracie, Matt Serra, Royce Gracie, and Frank Trigg. He was also head grappling coach for team GSP on the 12th season of the Ultimate Fighter. He is also a top commentator for some of the largest grappling events in the world, including; ADCC World Championships, Abu Dhabi World Professional Championships, IBJJF World Championships, IBJJF Pans, and Kasai Elite Grappling Championships.
Some of Shawn’s accomplishments on the mats include:
Ohio Pro Am Champion (2004)
FILA Regional Qualifier (2008)
ADCC Qualifier Bronze Medallist (2003)
2x Pan American Bronze Medallist (2000 blue belt, 2003 black belt)
NAGA 8 Man Invitational Tournament Champion
Grapplers Quest Champion
Shawn Williams’ 3 DVD set on his Williams Guard is phenomenal instructional that will help elevate your guard game with a detailed breakdown on the guard that made him famous.
THE WILLIAMS GUARD 3 DVD SET BY SHAWN WILLIAMS
Shawn Williams Biography
Shawn Williams was born in Bluffton, Indiana April 7th 1975. He was an active child participating in numerous sports like hockey, soccer, baseball, and swimming. He also picked up Karate at some point after seeing the action stars of the day like Bruce Lee and JCVD. It wasn’t until UFC 2 in 1994 that Shawn even saw Jiu-Jitsu. Seeing Royce effortlessly dispose of his opponents, including a Karate practitioner like Shawn, intrigued him, but it wasn’t until a couple years later when he saw Renzo Gracie competing that he was sold on the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Shawn found Renzo’s style to be much more “well rounded” and aggressive then his cousin Royce’s, and it was after witnessing this that Shawn decided to pursue learning BJJ. He packed up all his things and in September of 1996 he moved to New York City to train directly under Renzo. While pursuing his BJJ goals, Shawn was also majoring in Exercise Science at City College of New York's Hunter College where he was part of their wrestling program to be the most well rounded grappler he could be. During his training at Renzo’s many top grapplers of the day would often show up for training. One of these was the top innovator of the sport at the time, Nino Schembri. Nino often used an early version of what is known as the Rubber Guard, or pulled his foot to his face as Shawn described it. Shawn saw this guard variation during rolling and thought he was flexible enough to try to incorporate it into his game. He added it and was finding great success with it until sometime later during a MMA training camp for teammate Rodrigo Gracie. Shawn found that with no gi and everyone very sweaty, that they were easily slipping out of his Rubber Guard attempts. Though frustrated he wasn’t ready to give up on the position. During a roll, and completely by accident, Shawn ended up lacing his arm through his top leg when he went to set up his Rubber Guard. Once he was in this position he found that it was much more difficult for his opponent to slip out or posture up and the Shawn Williams guard was born. He found that using angles instead of flexibility was a much more efficient way to dominate in the guard. He brought his new discovery to his fellow teammate John Danaher (who gave the guard its name) and then his coach Renzo and they all added tweaks to make Shawn’s new guard as powerful as possible.
In 2002 after many years of terrorizing people on the mats with his guard, Shawn Williams was awarded his black belt from Renzo along with his training partner John Danaher. Then in 2004, with Renzo’s blessing Shawn moved to Los Angeles to open his own academy, 5 Star Martial Arts. Shawn may have moved away to forge his own path, but he still makes frequent trips back to New York to keep up to date with any new developments coming from Renzo’s Academy.
Shawn Williams is definitely most well-known for the guard bearing his name. He turned a position he discovered totally by accident into a very powerful guard system.
Shawn Williams - Getting To The Williams Guard
Shawn Williams - Triangle Choke From Williams Guard
Shawn Williams - Omoplata From Williams Guard
Shawn Williams - Far Armbar From The Williams Guard
Shawn Williams - Single Leg Counter From Williams Guard
Shawn Williams vs Luiz de Souza at 2005 World BJJ Championship
Shawn Williams vs. John Hassett at Grapplers Quest Submission Grappling