Closed Guard Sophistication with Xande Ribeiro
One of the first things you will learn, likely in your introductory class is what the closed guard position consists of. The closed guard is one of the most basic and most fundamental positions in all of Jiu Jitsu. It is the position that our most basic techniques are taught and most every other guard starts from. This is sort of the “home base” of Jiu Jitsu if you will.
As our Jiu Jitsu game grows, we are forced to grow our techniques both offensive and defensive. This inevitably will mean learning more than one guard. There are tons of other guards to choose from, and as you start learning them you will likely come up with one or two that you prefer over the others. Let’s take a look at the side closed guard by Xande Riberiro and see how this might fit into our Jiu Jitsu game.
Before diving into the technique Bernardo points out that Xande has won the ADCC two times. He also mentions that Xande is one of the best grapplers in the world across all generations. In case you are not aware of, or want to know the credentials of where this technique is coming from, Xande is not only a 2 time ADCC Champion but also a IBJJF Absolute World Champion and one of the most decorated competitors to ever live, in the Jiu Jitsu world.
That being said, there is no questions that his game is battle tested and delivers results. Check it out and see what you can take away and add to your game.
Solidify your DEFENSE with Xande Ribeiro!
The side closed guard that Xande likes to play is obviously something that he finds incredibly effective and not only that, but also efficient. He uses a lot of reaction based movements to get where he wants to go alleviating the need to force every single movement and use a ton of strength to get the job done. What’s nice about this position is that you do not need to be extremely strong, or flexible to be able to execute on this highly effective side closed guard.
Xande starts out by talking about the concepts behind breaking the opponent’s posture. He is not in a hurry to get the posture broken down, he would rather create reactions and play off of those reactions in order to break the opponent’s posture down easily. When you are in a closed guard position you are able to use your strongest muscles, your legs against a much weaker part of your opponent’s body, their arms.
This clearly gives you the advantage when trying to break posture, and when you combine patience, creating reactions and using your legs to pull the opponent in, you should not have any issues breaking down anyone’s posture. The last tip here is when you are trying to pull your opponent down using your legs you must bring your knees towards your head, almost like the opposite of a leg press. A lot of times practitioners will try to pull the opponent in by raising their legs and not bringing the knees in early in the game and this leads to expending extra energy.
As you can see in the video when Xande is creating reactions by pulling and pushing his opponent’s body with his legs he is also swimming his hands to the inside control and working to advance his grips and gain a collar tie grip as he begins making progress in breaking down the guard.
In order to achieve the side closed guard we must get both of the opponent’s arms to one side of our body and hip escape out to our side allowing us the ability to lock our guard from the opponent’s side with both arms in front of our body. You have likely been in this position, or a similar one when looking to take the back from a closed guard scenario,
One of the ways Xande shows to accomplish the side closed guard is… well, ridiculously simple. While I am sure he simply makes it look easy, and it will likely require a lot of training before we perfect it, there are not a lot of steps to this simple and effective side closed guard technique. Starting from closed guard Xande looks for a cross body lapel grip deep enough that he is fairly close to the opponent’s neck but not so deep he would be able to look for a cross choke. It’s important he does not go too deep because he needs the ability to use his elbow to trap the opponent’s arm.
Let me explain. Once achieving the grip in the lapel Xande locks his elbow tight to his rib cage (or just in front of his rib cage depending on the length of your arms and positioning) ensuring that the opponent’s arm is on the inside of his elbow as he locks his elbow to his body. This traps the opponent’s elbow close to our centerline which is a great step along the way to securing side closed guard.
Next, Xande simply hip escapes away from the opponent’s free arm causing the opponent’s arm that was trapped at his torso to then fall to the same side of his body as the opponent’s other arm. At this point we now have both arms on the same side and can look to lock our feet back up from the side and secure our side closed guard.
This is just one example of many where creating a reaction gives you the opportunity to force particular body movements inching your way to the position you want to be in.
Another option that Xande shows is a bit more aggressive or forceful depending on how you want to look at it. Again, starting from the closed guard position Xande opens his legs and kicks one leg into the opponent’s arm pit in a cross body direction forcing the opponent to base out on the opposite side of his body. This is the action that then creates the reaction that allows us to get where we are trying to go. The opponent’s reaction to this is going to be to come back to center, right? Of course it is, if they don’t do that for some reason then we just hip escape a bit and lock our side closed guard from here, or take the back.
As the opponent comes back to center they will lift their arm that they were using as a base making it light and easy to move. At this moment we can then push that arm across our body as we hip escape in that direction. We are simply encouraging the opponent to go exactly where they think they want to go, the only difference is when they get back to “center” it’s not center anymore because we moved at the same time. From this position we are able to then lock our side closed guard and get to work.
As you can see, again there are many ways to create a reaction that is beneficial to our plan or goal. The concept remains the same though. In order to get to the side closed guard both of the opponent’s arms must be on one side of their body and we must be slightly off center on our side facing the opponent. Now that you know the concepts and have a few examples of what the technique could look like, or at least what “good” looks like, you can play around with it and find which actions you like best to create the necessary reactions to get where you want to go.
Once you get to the side closed guard position, what do you do from here? Great question. Xande shows that the opponent’s natural reaction to this is going to be to try to come back to center. As they do that Xande looks to use this momentum for a sweep.
In order to get the sweep he is simply dropping his top leg to the mat and grabbing the opponent’s Gi pants at their outside knee. From here he simply kicks his bottom leg in a flower sweep motion while also lifting with his Gi pant grip and blocking with his other leg enabling his to easily roll the opponent over and get to work. It is very important that from this position he is keeping his top arm engaged and prevents the opponent from getting their elbow back inside allowing them to get to center.
At the end of the day, side closed guard may become a favorite of yours, or it may not, but it is important to recognize the position and its validity. You never know when you might find yourself in this position and rather than allow the opponent to come back to center you are able to advance your game a bit as a result of learning and studying this position.
Now that you have seen a little slice of this 2 time ADCC champion’s offensive game, why not take a look at his defensive game? Check out “Diamond Concept of Defense by Xande Ribeiro” for a full 4 part breakdown of the diamond concept which has allowed him to defend, escape and regain guard against the best grapplers in the world. This video instructional covers the key concepts you need to stop the pressure from those heavy pressure passers and retain and or regain your guard.
Often times some grapplers begin thinking there is nothing they can learn from a video instructional. This becomes especially true as they progress through the ranks. The reality is there is always something we can learn from everyone, especially a ADCC Champion and IBJJF Absolute World Champion like Xande as one of the most decorated competitors to ever live. Put the ego aside and give this one a try, you wont regret it. There is no question that regardless of your rank there are details in this game that you could take away and add to your game to make you a more effective, more efficient grappler and all around more capable competitor.
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!