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Breaking The Closed Guard On Your Knees vs Standing

Breaking The Closed Guard On Your Knees vs Standing


Recently, the topic of opening the closed guard has sparked a debate among high level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners.  Keenan Cornelius, who is infamous for his innovative approach and known for his mastery of lapels stated that opening the closed guard on the knees does not work.  He was referring specifically to the old school closed guard break that many of us learn on our first few days at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many people have had success with this closed guard break at the highest levels including infamous Black Belt world champions like Saulo Ribeiro, Xande Ribeiro, and Roger Gracie.

The notorious Garry Tonon also supported his fellow American Black Belt Cornelius on a Facebook status stating that he agrees that opening the closed guard on the knees is inefficient.  What people are taking from Cornelius and Tonon is that they believe you can’t break open the closed guard from the knees.  This is not at all what they are saying.  We have to remember that at the level they compete at, it is in fact difficult to open the closed guard from the knees.  The being said, they are not saying it will never work. They are simply saying that it is not the most efficient way to break open the legs.  

Thus, our topic for the day.  Is it better to break open the closed guard on your knees or is it in fact more efficient to break the legs from standing.   This is a subjective topic and it depends on the practitioner.  We can’t offer you a definitive answer, but we can break down the benefits of both and offer our opinion.  Let’s talk about them both beginning with why people break open the guard from the knees.

Breaking The Closed Guard From The Knees

Breaking the closed guard from the knees is one of the fundamental movements in bjj.  We are taught on our first few days of bjj to place our knee in our opponent’s tail bone, open our other knee and break open the guard.   This is a decent way to break open the closed guards, although, we agree with Cornelius and Tonon that standing may be the more effective way.  But, let’s look at why this is the way we are taught and see the benefit of the technique. 

Breaking open the guard on the knees digs back to the roots of bjj, it was considered the best way of doing it against an untrained person in a self-defense scenario.  The reason we want to do it from the knees is because it can minimize the risk of damage that we can attain from their legs if we stand.  Although most people do not have a preconceived notion of guard, they do know how to do up kicks.  Up kicks can be lethal and they can knock you out.  If you pass on the knees it is much more difficult to get up kicked.  Also, if you are in a self-defense scenario, standing may give your opponent the opportunity to also stand or run.  IF you stay on the knees, keep pressure and keep the distance closed you will be able to keep control over the situation.

Once we understand that this pass is from the roots of bjj, it is easy to see why it is also a very effective method for getting out of closed guard.  Like Cornelius and Tonon both said, it is not bad, it is just inefficient, especially against high level competitors.  This train of thought is easier to understand when you realize the level of competition for Garry and Keenan is world class.  Check out this way to break open the closed guard from the knees below.


Breaking the Guard Standing

When we think about breaking the closed guard, many of us can’t see any other way to do it asides from the knees.  Standing in the closed guard can be very intimidating because people are worried about getting swept or they believe their opponent can start to play open guards.  It is important to remember that you have better base on your feet because you can correct your base.  Let’s look at this. 

Marcelo Garcia is one of the most famous and best bjj competitors to ever do it.  He says that you should almost always stand in the closed guard.  The reason behind this is because in the closed guard when you are on your knees there are only a few ways to break open the legs.  There are no submissions, or attacks you can really do from inside someone’s closed guard. Your opponent also has a myriad of submissions and sweeps that they can do to you on your knees in closed guard.  If you stand, you will nullify a good percentage of your opponent’s possibilities and you will increase the number of attacks that you can do.

This is the philosophy behind standing in the closed guard.  It is easier to break open the guard.  IF you like passing on the knees, you can stand to break open the legs and then go back to your knees. Check out this method of breaking open the closed guard from your feet below, and see all of the details. 

Did you find Breaking The Closed Guard On Your Knees vs Standing interesting? then consider checking:


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