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Creating a Default Aggressive Closed Guard
Former Navy Seal, author and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Jocko Willink approaching every aspect of his life with a 'Will Do', not a 'can do' attitude. Typically up every morning at or before 4:30am, he starts most days in his home gym attacking his body like his Task Unit Bruiser went after insurgents during the Iraq War. In he and partner Leif Babin's book Extreme Ownership, Jocko outlines a series of leadership principles garnered from his journey as a Navy Seal and beyond. One of those principles is the principle of default aggressiveness.
Default aggressiveness can refer to one's state of mind, or state of being in which you are always at the ready and going after the days challenges. You are not aggressive in a negative way, but instead you are proactive, you are not waiting around for circumstances to change. To quote Jocko, you are "getting after it." If one listens to the Jocko Podcast with cohost Echo Charles and usually a guest, the conversation will many times lead to a discussion of the relationship of jiu jitsu to some topic they are discussing. This got me thinking about applying this principle to different jiu jitsu positions, namely closed guard which can sometimes be looked at as a passive, stalling position.
How does one create a default aggressive closed guard?
Everything you do should be a threat
First and foremost, everything you do should be a threat. Many opponents will attempt to posture up and try to wait out your closed guard. You need to be using your hips, your legs, your grips and your arms to threaten their posture, pull them towards you and hold them in the danger zone. Though this goes for every position, your opponent must never be at peace, or at rest. They must constantly be thinking about and running from your attacks, your sweep attempts, and your adjustments. In other words, you must be default aggressive when you have someone in closed guard.
The video below details one of the most fundamental, but effective chokes from the closed guard, the cross choke. Here Luis Heredia reminds us of the simplicity and power of this choke that many of us learn and then quickly leave behind in favor of something more flamboyant. By employing this into your closed guard game and making it better for yourself, you will create a place your opponent's will fear to be within your guard.
Be a hunter
Secondly, your closed guard must be tenacious. You must actively hunt for the submissions to keep your opponent on their metaphorical and literal heels. As someone adjusts by stepping up to standing or moving their hips, sometimes we have the tendency to hurry up and anxiously open our legs, thereby abandoning our closed guards prematurely. You must remain in the hunt and see your attacks through, chasing your opponent down until they can be cornered. Default aggressive means to go after your prey, the submission, not simply wait for your opponent to trip and fall into your trap.
In the video below, Dan Covel demonstrates some very powerful techniques for breaking posture and how to continue the hunt for the submission if the opponent stands up.
Another great 'default aggressive' series would be this brabo attack sequence that Rodrigo Cavaca shares in this BJJ Fanatics post.
At the end of the day, jiu jitsu can sometimes get characterized as a lazy martial art because one of the core principles is using minimal strength, minimal effort and maximum leverage to outmaneuver or overpower an opponent. But this does not mean that we cannot be default aggressive and always be looking for the attack, while utilizing minimal strength and effort. One cannot be passive and give their opponents an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate and come back with an attack of their own. Instead, we need to channel our inner Jocko's and "Get After It" with some default aggressiveness of our own.
Reconnect and immerse yourself in your old friend the closed guard by picking up Bernardo Faria's Closed Guard series here.