Concepts For Playing Closed Guard In BJJ
Closed guard is one of the most basic and fundamental jiu jitsu guards that every martial artist knows, and every fighter must have an answer for. Still, for so many BJJ players, it ends up evolving into a position to hold and recover your energy, or a place to get stuck while someone grinds their elbows into your legs.
When contemplating closed guard you should be asking yourself what are you trying to accomplish? Let’s take a look at some concepts when doing closed guard from Travis Stevens. Travis is a judoka and BJJ practitioner from the United States who competed in 3 summer Olympics, becoming the third American male judoka to win a silver medal in August, 2016. He has acquired a vast amount of knowledge in judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, having started martial arts at the age of six. Stevens trains at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City, and opened his own school in Boston, MA. Check out the video below of Travis demonstrating his concepts when playing closed guard!
Closed guard is one of the most basic and fundamental jiu jitsu guards that every martial artist knows, AND every fighting must have an answer for. Still, for so jiu jitsu players, it ends up evolving into a position to hold and recover your energy, or a place to get stuck while someone grinds their elbows into your legs. No fun! Now, thanks to Tom Deblass, you can put all that in the past, and level up your bottom game by rediscovering what makes the closed guard so tricky and submission oriented guard in the first place.
The main thing we are trying to do in closed guard is to keep our hips up and feet to the floor to pinch our opponent, giving us power in our hips to snap our hips down to the floor, using our knees to help break the posture. A lot of people are lazy and simply get their closed guard and hang out, thinking they will get power from controlling their opponent by pulling their knees to their chest. But the real power comes from elevating the hips, clearing your opponent’s hands, and snapping him down to get those grips around his back, breaking down his posture. By keeping your hips up, you take away your opponent’s ability to easily pin a leg to the floor.
Breaking down your opponent’s posture is a crucial part of playing guard. You are not going to be able to grip his collar and sit up or do anything so long as the guy on top has his grips. By using a cross grip and feeding your hand underneath your opponent’s grip you can elevate his arm up, breaking his grip, breaking down his posture, and giving you an opportunity to pull him down into your guard, securing your grips around his head and arm. Notice it is the outside arm from the cross grip that he uses to trap his opponent’s head and arm. Once you have broken down your opponent’s posture, you set yourself up for submission attacks, and keep you relatively safe from punches in MMA.
So now that we understand some basic concepts about closed guard, let’s take a look at some amazing closed guard attacks from Tom DeBlass. Tom has competed in the middleweight division for Bellator and the UFC with a professional record of 9 and 2. DeBlass is also a 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Ricardo Almeida. Tom DeBlass is a master of closed guard, having used it in many high level competitions. In the video below we will take a look at one of Tom’s super easy effective triangle set ups that you can add to your arsenal no matter what your belt level is. Check out the video below!
When playing closed guard, the first thing Tom does is clear his training partner’s grips, using his hips and legs to pull his opponent into his guard. From here Tom secures an over hook and immediately turns his hips, bringing his leg up and his arm through the back of his knee. Now he changes his grips, going palm to palm across her neck. Now he can move his leg over his partner’s shoulder. From here DeBlass looks to start pulling his knee out from under his partner’s control. The chances are your opponent will try to control your shin and avoid you from pulling your foot out. If this is the case you can use your other leg to help break the grip. Slip your hook under your opponent’s arm to clear it. Once the let go of their grip on the shin you can immediately bring your leg up and over, setting yourself into the triangle position. DeBlass locks the triangle and prepares to get stacks by his training partner. When the stack begins, his hips come up, he controls the arm by pulling it across his body and closing up the triangle.
The omoplata is also another great submission to hit from closed guard. In the video below, 5 Time World Champion Bernardo Faria shows us how to finish the omoplata after entering from closed guard. What is great about Faria’s demonstration is that he gives us so many high level details on what many would consider a basic position. No matter where you start the omoplata from, you end up in the same finishing position, so the details here are very important. Check out the video below and then we will break down the technique.
The important details in this position are to control your opponent’s gi pants, and twist his arm. Once Bernardo Faria does this he grips his opponent’s belt, or anywhere around his hip. This prevents the person from being able to roll out of the omoplata before you go for the finish. The second thing Faria focuses on is placing his left hand up on to his back, controlling him now with an over hook at his waist. Bernado’s goal is to get his left hand under his opponent’s arm pit for the tightest level of control. If you can your hand under the arm pit, there’s a 90 percent change you will be able to finish the omoplata. If you do not get your hand up under the arm pit it is likely your opponent will be able to roll out before you finish. You have to block his hips in order to prevent him from successfully rolling. From here the finish is simple. Stretch your legs out and keep hip escaping to rotate his arm, forcing him to eventually tap. Someone who has really flexible shoulders might take a bit more work, but if you control the hips you take away the ability for your opponent to pass, giving you time to safely work on the submission.
There are a lot of tips and tricks that can greatly improve your closed guard. If you want to learn more about closed guard then check out Tom DeBlass’ instructional series Closed Guard Domination, available exclusively on BJJFanatics.com. If you thought you already knew everything there is to know about closed guard then you will be surprised at this incredibly detailed break down of one of most common positions in all of grappling.