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Essential Spider Guard Techniques

Essential Spider Guard Techniques


For competing in the gi, I love to go to the spider guard. The spider guard is a great variation of the open guard that allows for limb control, posture control, and a high rate of sweeps and submissions. Leandro Lo, JT Torres, and many others have used this strategic guard to win many matches on the mat and take home medals in some of the biggest tournaments. But an unfamiliar guard can be daunting. Don’t fret. There are some fundamental, essential techniques that can make your spider guard efficient and effective. Here are those essential techniques. Spider also supplements the lasso guard very well so you can check out our article "Playing and Passing the Lasso" to learn an intro to lasso!

Spider Guard Technique #1: Ship’s Wheel Sweep Against A Standing Opponent

This is one of my go to sweeps while using spider guard against an opponent who stands up with the intent to pass. I call it the ship’s wheel sweep due to the fact that motion is that of how a captain would turn a big wheel on a ship. First for this sweep, you must maintain control of at least one bicep, with sleeve control. Your other foot can go on the opponent’s knee or thigh. With that foot, push the opponent’s leg out to break balance. Then you must use the foot that you have on the opponent’s bicep to turn him and bring his other arm in between his legs, effectively sweeping him over. Just like turning a giant wheel. When the sweep is completed, you should end up in a position to take the mount.

Spider Guard Technique #2: Scissor Sweep Against A Kneeling Opponent

Not all of your opponents will stand when you decide to play spider guard. Some will play low, and attempt to perform a pressure style pass. No need to worry. You can still play spider guard very well from here. The fundamental sweep from here is the scissor sweep. Just like standard full guard, the scissor sweep works great from spider as well. Once you get your correct positioning, get your foot to control your opponent’s bicep just as the first sweep, while maintaining sleeve control. Your other foot will shoot passed the hip. Turn the opponent using your bicep control and use your other leg to scissor his legs. Once again you should end up in mount.

Spider Guard Technique #3: Triangle Choke From A Failed Scissor Sweep

In the video above, which shows the scissor sweep you can use when you decide to play the spider guard, we see a beautiful technique that you can attain if your scissor sweep fails. Since you have control of the opponent’s arm, and your hips are in place for an explosive movement, you can pull him in as you throw your hips up, and lock up a tight, fight ending triangle choke. This creates a small sequence that you will be able to do if your scissor sweep is defended well.

Spider Guard Technique #4: Over Head Sweep and Concepts from Spider Guard

The over head sweep from spider guard can be an extremely high percentage sweep if executed properly.  Although it may be an intimidating sweep to do, the mechanics of it are fairly simple.  Much of the sweep comes from creating a reaction with your opponent so that they try to pressure into you.  The sweep is not difficult to do but requires perfect timing.  Timing is essential to the sweep.  When you push your opponent away and they push back, you can do this sweep.  Check out the video below with Caio Terra where he demonstrates some overhead sweep variations from spider and Lasso. 

Spider Guard Technique #5 Entry to 50/50 or Single Leg X

Spider guard can also be used very well to get into single leg X or 50/50 which are extremely powerful position.  Spider guard is not only a guard for sweeps or submissions, it is also an excellent tool for transitions. Some of the best transitions are from spider to SLX or 50/50.  Check out the video below with Felipe Pena where he shows us how to get into 50/50.

For any competitor that focuses in the gi competition, you must know of the spider guard. Even if it is not your primary guard, it is one you can use if you ever need to. Again, there are 4 techniques you can learn that are essential to an effective spider guard:

  1. Ship's Wheel Sweep Against a Standing Opponent 
  2. Scissor Sweep Against a Kneeling Opponent
  3. Triangle Choke from a Failed Scissor Sweep
  4. Over Head Sweep and Concepts from Spider Guard 
  5. Spider guard entry to 50/50 or Single leg X


It is also important to know these techniques, so you can learn to defend them as well. Matheus Gonzaga is a Jiu Jitsu competitor that knows how to play this guard right. His DVD, The Lightweight Guard covers some awesome spider guard techniques as well.

Check out Gonzaga’s The Lightweight Guard for $39.

Cover for DVD of Matheus Gonzaga teaching BJJ techniques for the lightweight guard

Also, check out JT Torres DVD set "passing back takes and more." JT Torres is one of the best bjj practitioners today.  He is a black belt under Atos and has placed second at the Black Belt World Championships.  JT will show you some cool spider guard sweeps but he will also show you how to defend the spider guard


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