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Check Out Xande’s Closed Side Guard

Check Out Xande’s Closed Side Guard



When you watch highlights of competitions, it seems like the open guards, the lapel guards, and leglocks are taking over the sport. Its easy to overlook the older guards, like the half guard, the closed guard. 

These old guards are still important to learn. Maybe even more important than all the flashy new techniques (depending on your skill level). They provide the fundamentals that the sport is built on, and any training plan that skips fundamentals is doomed to fail in competition. 

For example, Xande Riberio won a bronze medal in the 2017 ADCC by using basic closed guard tactics at the highest level of the game. In addition to that he is a multi-time World Champion, No-Gi World Champion, Pan Ams Champion, and multi-time ADCC Champion and medalist. He is one of the most vicious guard players in the game, having been passed only three times in his competitive career. 

Below he discusses his side guard, a variation of closed guard that he used in the 2017 ADCC.


Like the name suggests, side guard is a form of closed guard where instead of being squarely in front of their opponent, the guard player is off to one side. One leg over the opponent’s upper back to keep their posture broken down. A lot of the times guard players get here from an overhook situation or off an arm drag. 


There are many ways to enter this side guard scenario, and Xande shows a handful. The basic one is to drag the opponents arm cross body, like you would for a back take or pendulum sweep. 

Obtain an impenetrable Defense with Xande!



Against better opponents though, the first technique rarely ever works. A skill to develop for closed guard is to attack one arm, and immediately switch to the other as they move to defend it. This will make dragging ang arm across the centerline much easier, and make your other guard techniques more high percentage as well. 

The Secret 

After dragging the arm across, the next battle is to keep it in place. The first thing your partner is going to want to do is push there arm back inside. Getting the arm back in blocks any path to back, protects the arm itself from getting joint locked, and provides a post in that direction to defend against sweeps. 

Additionally, the guard player loses all ability to force their partner to face away and stay angled off. The defender can start to pressure back in, and square back up to a neutral position again. 

Xande has a simple, small movement to make this side guard much more secure. He plants his top foot (left in this case) on the mat, pushes himself straight “up” (up being defined here as towards his partners head).

This push cause him to move up his partner’s body, and when he relocks his legs again they are much higher up on the body. His top leg is going across his partners shoulders, and his bottom leg has dragged his partner’ arm (the one needs to pummel back in for the escape) away from their body. 

Important note: Xande is not shrimping away from his partner. That would make space that could taken advantage of to escape. He is just sliding himself “up” along the mat. It’s a small adjustment that makes a huge difference.

With this more precise control, the position is easier to hold, and the arms are more isolated and vulnerable to attack. 

If you have ever tried to play side guard and feel like you keep losing the battle of keeping that arm in place, give this version a try. 

Diamond Concept of Defense by Xande Ribeiro

The Diamond Concept of Defense by Xande Ribeiro is a MASTER CLASS in DEFENSE. If you find yourself getting your guard passed constantly, or you are getting stuck in side control Xande can help you out. These techniques don’t require extreme athleticism or strength, just the power of the DIAMOND! Know how to structure your body to form the Ultimate Defense regardless of skill level!



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