Closed Guard, a Dying Art

Closed Guard, a Dying Art

The closed guard has long been one of the best guards in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Popular among some of the greatest competitors in the history of Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts, this guard has always been a great option for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners and Mixed Martial Arts fighters. Unfortunately, the closed guard is a dying art.  At the highest levels of Jiu Jitsu and MMA, we see less and less closed guard every year.

The closed guard was one of the best places to put your opponent in the UFC years ago, today, it is severely underutilized in both MMA and Jiu Jitsu.  What makes the closed guard such a powerful weapon?  There are plenty of submissions from there, plenty of sweeps, and it is an extremely good position to be defensive from.  The combination of these things makes the closed guard, one of, if not, the best guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

We have seen top of the line UFC fighters, and Jiu Jitsu fighter utilize this position in high level competitions, some of these infamous fighters include Roger Gracie, Nate and Nick Diaz, Xande Ribeiro, Kron Gracie, and so many more.  With so many people proving that it is one of the best guards, why do we see a decline in this position?  It may be attributed to the movement of fancier moves such as the Berimbolo, it may be because of leg lock popularity, or simply because we have a new generation of grapplers and fighter, but none the less, the closed guard is amazing.

 The Closed Guard and Submissions

The closed guard continues to be one of the best places to submit your opponent from in Mixed Martial Arts, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and any submission grappling tournament.  It is the foundation of the “guard.”  So many people choose to neglect the power of the closed guard and don’t take the time to master the mechanics of it.  The closed guard has long been renowned as the first guard to learn and the last one to master.

Many of the people who waltz into a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy are probably familiar with the position.  Some would say that the closed guard is popular among “main stream” MMA fans.  This could be true, but they probably have no idea how to have a functional closed guard.  One of the best things about the closed guard is the abundance of submission opportunities that present themselves in closed guard.

Depending on whether it is a gi bjj match, a UFC fight, or a self-defense confrontation, the closed guard is going to be one of your best options to submit somebody off your back.  The ADCC is the most prestigious NoGi grappling tournament in the world and this year, Jiu Jitsu legend, Xande Ribeiro submitted 3 world class competitors with a simple and flawless closed guard arm bar.  It was an absolutely phenomenal display of fundamental Jiu Jitsu.  The closed guard is one of the best positions to submit your opponent off of your back because there are endless submission opportunities and chains.

For example, there are several arm bar set ups, triangle set ups, guillotine set ups, kimura set ups, wrist lock entries, lapel chokes, and so much more.  Depending on the rule set and whether it is gi, nogi, or MMA, you have a multitude of options.  In the gi, there are so many different gi chokes that you can set up from the closed guard.  You can also mix and match moves, for example, you can attempt a cross choke and when your opponent defends, attack the arm.  Check out this instructional with Rickson Gracie Black Belt, Luis Heredia on how to do the perfect cross choke from closed guard.

The submissions do not stop there, the possibilities are literally endless from the closed guard, there are hundreds of submission combinations that you can learn and apply from the closed guard. Check out one of our other articles “Top Submissions from Closed Guard.”  Many high level bjj practitioners and MMA fighters have always had success with the closed guard.  The different combinations of submissions, the leverage, and the timing will help you to develop an extremely dangerous closed guard.  If you want to see some different approaches on the closed guard, check out Luis Heredia’s black belt, Joel Bouhey’s DVD “The Falcon Guard.”  This is an extremely unique system developed by an extremely capable black belt.  He comes directly from a Rickson Gracie lineage so there is no better way to learn the closed guard.

Closed Guard Sweeps

Just as much as the closed guard is a tremendous place for submitting your opponent, it is also an excellent position to sweep your opponent.  The combination of submission attacks and sweeps can make you develop an absolutely lethal closed guard.  It is unfortunate that we do not see more people today playing the closed guard.  Some people do not understand the depth of technique involved with playing closed guard and when they see someone using closed guard for a whole round in MMA or match in bjj, they may find it boring.

Closed guard is far from boring.  There are hundreds of different sweep combinations from the closed guard.  Many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners will learn a lot of the basic sweeps from the closed guard such as the scissor sweep, the hip bump sweep, the pendulum, or the elevator sweep.  Out of the people that learn these sweeps, only a few will take the time to develop a well-rounded game from the closed guard.

What makes sweeps effective from the closed guard is not the sweep itself but the timing, the details, and the combination of going from one sweep to another.  Another big contribution to a successful sweep in the closed guard is having dynamic set ups.  So maybe you set up an arm lock just to ultimately get a sweep.  The leverage attained in closed guard is what will allow a skilled practitioner to have his way with his opponent.  Check out this cool overhead sweep below and see some key details to this technique.

So how do you develop your sweeps from the closed guard?  Well it starts with being able to utilize your closed guard.  This position can be difficult to attain at higher levels and against better people, this may also be one of the contributing factors to why the closed guard is not as popular.  Many people avoid it.  Once you learn how to find closed guard, try a sweep, and see different reaction, then you can go from there.  Check out this awesome sweep from closed guard below.

Being Defensive In Closed Guard

Being able to have a strong defense is one of the fundamental keys to closed guard.  What we mean by being defensive does not mean to stall.  Not at All.  We simply mean that when you have someone in closed guard, it is a safe position.  Theoretically, it is almost impossible to be submitted while playing closed guard.  There is no attacks that your opponent can apply from inside your closed guard.  Yes, if you are a smaller guy going against a much larger opponent they may be able to do a neck crank or wrist lock, but it is extremely difficult.

When you have someone in your closed guard, you are safe from many of the common attacks, your opponent should have one goal in mind and that would be to break open your legs and force you to play open guard.  Therefore, the closed guard can be such a powerful position.  You can play one of the most offensive positions without much risk.  It is extremely high reward and extremely low risk.  IF you want to learn some other closed guard tricks, check out the infamous Chris Haueter’s DVD Set “Old School Efficient BJJ.” Chris is an original bad ass in the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and people like Conor Mcgregor have eve sought him out to learn, need we say more?

If you think that you want to up your closed guard game even more, we highly recommend purchasing 5x Black Belt World Champion, Bernardo Faria’s 4 DVD Set on the Closed Guard.  Bernardo is one of the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters to ever compete and his closed guard system is battle tested and proven to work.  He has been at the top of the competition scene for over 10 years.  Not only is Bernardo one of the best competitors in the world, he is also an extremely articulate instructor.  Bernardo makes learning effortless and easy so definitely check this out and it can be used as a great resource in your closed guard development.