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BJJ Instructional Videos
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En Guard! Guard Tips With John Danaher

En Guard! Guard Tips With John Danaher


Anyone that has participated in Jiu Jitsu, whether for recreation or competitively, has experienced the importance of guard retention. The ability to prevent your opponent from passing your guard and getting into a position to secure a submission or pin is a crucial tool in the grappling toolbox. There are three major positions in which you will be faced with this task: seated guard, supine guard and turtle position. In order to be successful in any of these positions, it is important to understand the attacks that are likely to be attempted, how to think ahead of the game, and how to correctly move and position your body to block your opponents attempts at passing. 


First and foremost, correct body movement. This isn’t referring to correct moves, but rather the way your body is trained to move in order to complete the techniques you are attempting in Jiu Jitsu. The natural muscle memory that you develop through training can be a key player in your grappling game, giving you an advantage against someone very close to your same skill.

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Once you have adopted correct movement, it’s time to work on those technical moves! Take them on at the correct time in your training timeline to allow for a seamless progression throughout the entire journey, rather than jump around and attempt to learn the “cool move you saw on youtube” before you have mastered the fundamentals. On that same note, the last thing to work on when honing a specific type of Jiu Jitsu technique is to understand the concept being discussed. Don’t be afraid to ask why something works better than another method, or when to apply certain grips, escapes and sweeps to achieve the highest level of effectiveness. 

Studying the process and exchange of body position will morph into understanding the different types of guard passes and how to alter your own reaction to counter correctly. When you are trying to retain guard then there is a flowchart of steps to run through with each pass attempt. First identify which pass they are starting, once you have assessed that you will be able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of that particular movement as well as what is best used to stop them or redirect the likely motion.

After running through the weaknesses in your head, use one of those points to turn the pass around and block the progression of your opponent before they are able to carry out the entire technique. At this point you will be in a more offensive position rather than defending your guard retention, or your opponent will switch to an alternate guard passing technique. In the case of the latter you will simply repeat the cognitive process of assessment, decision and action. 


In order to improve guard retention there are certain body moves to practice. From a seated guard, the fundamental motion is scooting; this action is meant to increase the distance 

between you and your opponent. Practice keeping your body facing your opponent while they move in a circle or change their angle around you. Keeping more distance between the two of you will allow you to recover your body faster and have more time to visually observe what your opponent is doing, especially when they start to attempt to pass your guard. From supine guard this same concept can be applied with shrimping.

This is often one of the first things learned in Jiu Jitsu, and for a good reason! No matter how often you have warmed up with shrimps, keep the practice up and make yourself a mean, lean shrimping machine! Without mastering these techniques then the application of them in more complicated positions will be nearly impossible. Before you attempt to apply these movements into a live grappling session, make sure you can perform them on their own! 

The next thing to address when it comes to guard retention is head control. This comes into play in two ways, trying to gain control of your opponent’s head and trying to avoid your opponent from getting control of your own head. When you are in guard, be sure to always be aware of your head position and keep it protected! Keeping your inside control and you will be in a much better situation, as this is the best way to simply deny your opponent control of your head. On top of working to keep your partner from gaining access to control of you, you will simultaneously be working to be the one in control. Be aware of where their head and hips are, keeping them on the same side of your body to prevent them from pinning you to the mat. 

If you are looking to improve your Jiu Jitsu and get better at your precise movements both offensively and defensively, starting with these tactics is ideal. Work with John Danaher to address what needs to be worked on in order to go from where you are in your training to where you want to be in the quickest amount of time. Stay tuned for more of the Go further, Faster series and more amazing inside scoop from Danaher!

Half Guard: BJJ Fundamentals - Go Further Faster by John Danaher

IF you are beginning your Jiu-Jitsu Journey NOW is the perfect time to  learn from one of the LEADING minds in Jiu-Jitsu. The Go Further Faster Series by John Danaher is designed to shorten the learning curve required to become proficient. Take the first step in ENHANCING your Jiu-Jitsu forever!



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