DIAMOND GUARD BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is more than just a bunch of techniques, the true art is all about concepts, and learning a bunch of techniques that don't all connect to each other doesn’t really make sense. Understanding a concept in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is to see a whole system of movements, and knowing which ones to use at the right time. Building a series of flow chains becomes easier when you can see the whole process, and gaining an ability to move from a bjj half guard to a de la riva guard, and then to an x guard, before setting up submissions with a lapel guard bjj system, is a better way of developing an athlete's game style within the art.
What this article covers:
- What Is the Diamond Concept
- The Innovative Creativity of Xande Ribeiro
- Breaking Down the Diamond
- The Diamond Has Multiple Applications
The development of the art has had many innovators throughout the years that all share their expertise, and their philosophy with the grappling community. World class athletes like Roger Gracie, Ronaldo Souza, Marcelo Garcia, Bernardo Faria, Keenan Cornelius, and Pedro Sauer are all prime examples of this. Xande Ribeiro is another world class athlete that has been instrumental in teaching many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners his incredible philosophy. Xande has created an extraordinary series of defensive movements called the diamond concept, where he first utilises a bjj open guard, and then implements his system when an opponent tries to pass his guard.
WHAT IS THE DIAMOND CONCEPT
The diamond concept is a series of structural positioning, where the guard player will use the perfect architecture within their framing to deny their opponent any form of positional control. The concept involves a guard player to build a diamond defense by connecting their elbows to their knees at all times. This is how a guard player can fend off guard passers, and easily access guard retention techniques.
The diamond involves an athlete to stay on their side, where they can continually stay in a stronger defensive position, as opposed to the weaker position of being flat on their back. Implementing the diamond concept will make it extremely hard for an opponent to pass their guard, as this unique system was designed to keep an opponent out of the athlete's personal space. Using this concept will allow an athlete to easily frame out their opponent, and paddle themself back into the bjj closed guard. Xande teaches this concept to help his students stay protected, and give them an opportunity to apply offensive measures to the system.
THE INNOVATIVE CREATIVITY OF XANDE RIBEIRO
Xande Ribeiro is a world class athlete, who began his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey from an extremely young age. Growing up in Manaus in Brazil, Xande was involved in Jiu Jitsu as a child, and before long he was competing in tournaments, and dominating the Brazilian fight scene. In fact Xande did not lose a single fight in his first seven years of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition. This kind of domination was unprecedented at the time, as his coaches Binho, Guto, Yano, and Lucinho Monteiro all could see the untapped potential in the young prodigy. In 1999 Xande moved to Rio de Janeiro to train and compete alongside his famous brother Saulo Ribeiro, as they both trained under the legendary Royler Gracie at the Gracie Academy.
By 2001 Xande had already won a world title at the purple belt level, and multiple Pan American championships. He was promoted to the black belt rank in a ceremony headed by his older brother Saulo Ribeiro and Royler Gracie. Xande went on to become one of the most fiercest grapplers on the planet, as he secured 7 IBJJF black belt world titles, 2 ADCC championships, 2 No Gi world championships, 4 Pan American championships, and 2 Abu Dhabi world cups one in the Gi, and one in the No Gi division. Xande's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu record speaks for itself, as he boasts a win loss record of 162 wins with only 44 losses, including an incredible 80 submission wins, and only 6 submission losses. What makes Xande even more incredible is the fact that he has only had his guard passed twice as a black belt, once against Roger Gracie, and the other against Braulio Estima, he has also never been mounted at the black belt level. Xande has beaten world class level athletes like Marcelo Garcia, Jefferson Moura, Robert Drysdale, Ronaldo Souza, Roger Gracie, Braulio Estima, Demian Maia, and Andre Galvao.
Xande has proven that his systems work, as his reputation speaks volumes about his defensive guard measures. Xande has been a black belt for 21 years, and over the course of his competitive, and coaching career he has achieved a multitude of innovations. Xande helped to create the University of Jiu Jitsu, where a collaborative effort between many high level black belts from different affiliations came together to share their knowledge. He also co created the Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Association with his brother Saulo Ribeiro, where he had room to invent, and implement his intricate defensive mechanisms. Xande has gone above and beyond the expectations of a high level black belt, as his diamond guard, and side guard bjj concepts are incredible.
BREAKING DOWN THE DIAMOND
The diamond guard concept is all about action, and reaction, as an athlete will use these tactics to frustrate their opponents into losing position. An opponent needs connection to the athlete, in order to pass, and the diamond is all about starving an opponent of those opportunities. Laying flat on an athlete's back will only result in poor defensive positioning, as the key to successfully fending off an attacker is to stay active on an athlete's side. From this side position the athlete can use a range of tricks like a knee shield, and frames that are connected, to effectively control the centreline during an exchange. Keeping an athlete's elbows connected to their knees will give them a solid structure with their frame, and will allow them to control the space between them and their opponent.
Space management is a detailed concept, where the athlete will not allow their opponent to take control of head grips or cross faces. Using the elbows, and the knees in a defensive frame will make it impossible for an opponent to apply any form of significant pressure. Xande speaks about getting elegant, meaning that once an athlete has initially framed out their opponent, they can use the leverage within their body to elegantly create more distance, and then paddle back into the open guard, and then secure the bjj full guard. An opponent will often use aggression, and pressure to try and smash pass an athlete, but the framing architecture of the diamond concept has some seriously significant applications. Using the knee as a shield with connection to the elbow makes Xande's guard extremely impassable.
Utilising the knee shield is an important part of the diamond concept, and most practitioners will use their knee shield like a bjj z guard. This may still be a good technical guard, but it will leave an athlete exposed to pressure to the head region. The shield in the diamond concept is used to thread into the hip, and across the thighs of an opponent, before then lifting up into the sternum, and this will create a greater defense for an athlete to execute. The diamond uses the hands, and the forearms to block any head pressure from an opponent, and this forces an opponent to use different tactics. This means that the athlete utilising the diamond will be able to successfully weather the storm, and then implement their own attacking methods to secure sweeping techniques, or submission maneuvers.
THE DIAMOND HAS MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS
Xande Ribeiro's diamond guard concept is applicable to more than just the guard, as it has multiple uses from a range of different positions. Xande explains his guard passing system as the same diamond concept, where he connects his elbows to his knees, and uses this framing position to infiltrate an opponent's guard systems. This type of passing can work against all types of guards from the x guard to the bjj butterfly guard. This concept even works from the mount, except Xande will first use the vortex to keep their opponent's closer to his hips, so he has more push to escape, and implement the diamond concept. This concept is taken even further as it can also apply to the standing position, where the athlete uses their elbow and knee frames to stay protected, and to close the distance. Xande often talks about space, or distance management, and identifying when an opponent has encroached too far into an athlete's space, is a concept that is taught in the diamond. Using a strong framing ability from all positions will make it extremely difficult for an opponent to utilise grips, or even attempt to gain any form of notable control.
PROTECTING THE CORNERS
Xande talks about protecting the corners, and this means to make sure that certain parts of an athlete's structure are not compromised. There are some main positional areas that athletes need to protect, with the first being the hip area, the second one is high up under the armpit, and the third one is the cross face. These are important aspects, and is what Xande refers to as the corners. Protecting these corners means to not allow opponents to apply any sort of pressure to these areas. Athletes must remain active, and are constantly moving on to their side, and steering clear of staying flat on their back. Using the diamond is the most functional way of negating an opponent's pressure control in any of these vital areas. Using the connection of an athlete's knees to their elbows will create a formidable frame that can cut through any attacking pressure on the planet. This is a tremendous concept that is extremely simplistic in its nature.
The vortex is another part of the diamond concept that Xande Ribeiro uses to help escape from extremely tough positions. Most practitioners that are stuck underneath the side control position will just look to use their frames, and try and desperately cling onto a half guard. Using the vortex, an athlete can be extremely confident that their frames will allow them to shuffle straight back into the diamond defense. To initiate the vortex the athlete will use their frames, but instead of looking for the half guard they will walk themselves up on their shoulders, and their hips to create enough space to simply turn to their side, and implement the knee and elbow connection within the diamond structure. This is a significant concept that is extremely simple to understand, and even easier to execute. The vortex is a sure fire way for an athlete to maximise their ability at escaping from the position, without having any form of significant pressure applied to their corners. This will allow the athlete to focus more on how they will attack their opponent, and trap them into submission maneuvers.
HITTING THE SWEEP
Using the diamond defense makes life extremely tough for a competitor. They will often get frustrated with their inability to close the space, let alone pass the guard. The diamond has too many different grip variations, especially when adding in the side guard position. Xande uses his frames to create distance, and stop his opponents from getting into his own personal space. Once the opponent over commits to the guard pass, the natural reaction is to trap them into the side guard. This is a position that is heavily linked to the diamond concept, and will allow an athlete to gain significant control whilst trapping one of their opponents arms. Opponents will use all of their expertise to try and break out of this guard, but what they don't realise at the time is as soon as they put any forward pressure on the athlete, they are losing position, and their balance and structure can be easily broken, resulting in a sweep. Moving backwards is also out of the question, as the control system of the side guard keeps them heavily trapped into the athlete.
The most common sweep that Xande Ribeiro uses is after trapping his opponent into the side guard. He has such a strong control of his opponent that this forces them to get extremely frustrated. This will commonly lead to a mistake on his opponents behalf, as they will think they can use forward pressure to try and break free of the side guard. Effectively this is the wrong mentality, because they do not have their arm free to post, meaning all an athlete has to do is keep their arm trapped, take a strong grip on the knee, and simply just roll them over. It is an extremely common sweep, which can also be further helped if a butterfly hook was threaded into the leg of the opponent. This means that an athlete could reach over grabbing the belt, and then slip their butterfly hook in, and sweep an opponent over their head. This position is almost like a death trap for an opponent, as it seems whichever way they go they are going to lose their balance, and be taken one of many different ways.
SETTING UP SUBMISSIONS
The diamond concept is a great defensive structure that will allow an athlete to stay protected, and access greater advantages over their opponent. These advantages are not just defensive mechanisms, or sweeping implements, they can also lead to a variety of different submission maneuvers. Thinking about the concept of the diamond, and what it does allow, is that an athlete can frame out using their knees, and their elbows, and this is a good catalyst for creating enough space to then attack a submission. Opponents that try to infiltrate into the diamond defense can often find themselves extremely frustrated, as they will struggle to apply pressure, because of the athlete's strong framing ability. This will allow an athlete to utilise many different techniques like arm bars, omoplatas, triangles, and even leg lock submissions. Not only will this lead to a variety of different submissions, but the diamond concept can also expose an opponent by allowing the athlete to arm drag, and take their opponents back. Having a back control is the most dominant position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, so it would be extremely easy to achieve rear naked chokes after utilising a dominant diamond guard concept.
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