Drills To Develop An Impassable Guard
How To Drill For An Impassable Guard
The jiu jitsu guard is the first line of defense against any opponent, especially for smaller and weaker grapplers. It is a vital and one of the most important skills to be able to control your opponent at a proper distance. The guard is a skill that you will work on for your entire jiu jitsu career. Having the ability to fight from a guard (closed, half, butterfly, etc) is a skill that every BJJ practitioner needs to master. To quote the legendary jiu jitsu master Tom DeBlass, “having your guard passed is essentially an absolute tragedy.”
For Tom DeBlass it is a complete breakdown of his grappling game to have his guard passed, and when you listen to Tom talk about his guard, you know that defending the pass is always the first thing he is concerned about.
We as jiu jitsu practitioners need to face it: if our guard is impassable then the rest of our BJJgame will fall in line. Otherwise we face difficult circumstances in competition or real world street fight scenarios. This again goes back to being very important for smaller people to have a guard that is very hard to defend. Because once a bigger and stronger opponent gets to a dominant position in real life... you are F_cked. There are literally dozens upon dozens of guard variations, and dozens of variations of those gaurd, which can be used against any equally vast amount of guard passing styles. Think of it like a game of chess with potentially deadly consequences.
When I started jiu jitsu in my late 20’s I gravitated towards the closed guard. Maybe because it was the first guard I learned, or maybe because it felt safer... But, like every other BJJ student, I was in a hurry to learn more advanced jiu jitsu guard techniques. What a fool I was. Although I have come to change the way I think, I eventually found that the more advanced guard known as the butterfly guard. The butterfly guard allowed me to keep my legs strong and retracted, and discovered the power of using my hooks. The butterfly guard gave me the power to present a superior barrier to my opponent when he was trying to pass my guard. There was also the confidence and awareness that thebutterfly guard made it much easier to “chase and follow” my opponent that wanted to get skirt around my legs.
The butterfly guard was also a personal favorite because it allowed me to play on the natural strength of my strong legs. Because of this natural strength the butterfly sweep became an early favorite. This is important for every grappler to eventually find a guard that works for them, that makes sense to them.
Though I’m still not on Rafael Formiga’s level (though I know I will get there some day), I have confidence in my butterfly guard which allows me to use the guard position and sweeps to my advantage.
Looking to develop a strong and powerful butterfly guard game like Rafael "Formiga" Barbosa?
What I have come to realize in my jiu jitsu career is that absolutely nothing ever comes easy... if it was easy everyone would be doing Jiu Jitsu. Of course we can gravitate towards certain sweeps, positions and overall techniques, but to truly understand and master a grappling technique one must put in an endless amount of repetitions. There is a statement in our BJJ school - 1000x to understand it, 10000x to master it.
I will be the first to admit to any human being on earth that I need to work more and improve on repetitive jiu jitsu drilling. Of course this is an area of my training that I continue to work on. But what I lack in drilling practice I make up for in live training.
Kit Dale has a similar philosophy when it comes to this style of BJJdrilling. By this I mean that as I work on specific set-ups, positions and pathways, I am always working to find ways to put my own self there as many times as possible as I can during a 5 or 6 or even 7 or 8 minute round of rolling. All of my jiu jitsu training partners and teammates and staff know that during all of my rolls I am likely to use my Z Guard, Half Guard, Half Butterfly Guard or variations of those.
My goal with any type of grappling practice is to “drill” a starting point and from there I will often times explore a multitude of different guard sweep variations and pathways depending on how the next couple of minutes go. The good news is, if I end up submitting my partner or end up being submitted myself, I do not get frustrated. Instead I will start right back at that position and work it over and over until I am completely exhausted, yet confident in my ability.
So, honestly, if you find a guard game that you like, or that seems to fit your true style more quickly, then you should work it over and over. Do not underestimate the fact that it will be passed over and over. In this case, you still need to work it over and over. Also, be open to many different other guard styles as you develop as a martial artist because many different people along the way will show you many different ways to do a specific technique.
Let us observe the Miyao Brothers who are very well known for their ultimate marathon training years and endless drilling sessions. I really encourage you to check out this video below which will show you how Paulo works many different guard set ups by training with a partner who is willing to set up various submission positions. In reality there are a lot of different ways to drill positions. There is no one way, or right way to get where you want to go. So check out this video and remember these very simple concepts and techniques the next time you get on the mats.