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Exploring The Z Guard For BJJ With Tom DeBlass

Exploring The Z Guard For BJJ With Tom DeBlass


Learn The Most Dynamic Guard From One Of America's Most Accomplished Grapplers, Tom DeBlass

In the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the Z guard is seen as one of the most dynamic and effective guards you can play. The Z guard in BJJ is a modern variation of the half guard. It may seem like an innocuous move but it is anything but that. The Z guard is so widely used nowadays because it is an excellent position for attacking with sweeps and submissions while defending against your opponent’s advancements.

Craig Jones is a master of the half guard and foot lock attacks. His DVD the Z Guard Encyclopedia gives you a variety of different set ups and attacks from half guard to get the sweep or submission.


When it comes to understanding the power of the Z guard look no further than Tom DeBlass. If you are not familiar with whom Tom DeBlass is he is a well respected grappling figure having earned his Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under Ricardo Almeida. Tom is a master of leg lock submissions, having employed them in international competition against some of the best competitors to win some of the most prestigious titles. From a coaching stance, DeBlass has also managed to produce high level athletes including ADCC veteran Garry Tonon and World Masters champion Jen Allen Russell. Tom is a half guard wizard, and loves to use the Z guard to defeat any opponent. Let’s check out some of his advice when it comes to attacking from and defending against the Z guard.

Basic Shield Z Guard

To understand the half guard is to understand framing. The biggest goal in guard is to retain your guard. In Z guard, often times people make the mistake of dropping their knee shield too low. You want to think about pointing your knee towards your partner’s shoulder. The knee shield is used for defense, not for attacking. When training no gi, DeBlass likes to frame against his opponent’s shoulder, placing his arm under his opponent’s neck. He will also grab his opponent’s wrist to control his arm. The goal from here is to secure an under hook. But often times you will see guys go for an under hook without clearing their opponent’s arm, causing them to get trapped in a whizzer.

Tom DeBlass explains that in order to attack from Z guard you need to first bring down your knee shield. The moment Tom removes his knee shield he comes up for an under hook. Tom grabs onto his opponent’s trap to keep his opponent from having a strong whizzer. In order to reverse his training partner Tom needs to have his training partner’s head above his head, and his hips under his opponent’s hips. This is the perfect position to be offensive from. You have to get used to being uncomfortable here because all of your training partner’s weight will be on you. Tom locks up his opponent’s leg to prevent him from coming forward. Pay attention to the way he uses his legs and feet to secure his opponent’s leg.

Z Guard Smash

One of the things that give Tom the biggest problem in half guard is when people step up their leg. Tom always looks to attack the near side sleeve when passing from the top. When his opponent has him in half guard all Tom does is step up. This allows him to put his knee directly between his opponent’s legs. From here Tom’s leg comes out and he establishes a sleeve grip. Even if his opponent is grabbing hos lapel he can’t defend. To pass his leg, Tom pulls his sleeve up and slides his leg across as he posts with his hand. Now all Tom has to do is collapse and pressure his training partner. He makes sure to keep his grips secure; stopping his training partner from rolling to his knees. From here Tom brings the arm across to finish the pass. Notice that when Tom first starts the pass he already has all his body weight pressuring down on your opponent’s legs. The gi sleeve control allows you to keep your opponent tight to your body the entire time you smash through.

The Z guard is a great technique and Tom DeBlass knows all the best tips and details to make your guard game incredibly effective. If you liked these techniques then be sure to check out Tom DeBlass’ “Half Domination” instructional series available exclusively on In this series, Tom shares ton of great half guard advice that will help you control and win from one of the most dynamic positions in grappling.

Craig Jones has a secret weapon in jiu jitsu... his Z Guard. He was virtually unheard of until recent ADCC and EBI competitions where he shocked the world with his Z guard and foot lock attacks. His approach is simple, and makes sense. After watching it, your approah and execution from the Z Half Guard will dramatically change for the better.

Craig first developed a stellar closed guard. Like many people in Jiu Jitsu before him, he wanted a strong foundation. Over time he found it to be increasingly difficult to get good people into his closed guard. As his status grew and as the competition got better, his opponents were avoiding his closed guard like the plague. Craig eventually found entering the Z Guard much easier than entering the closed guard. At first he used the Z guard as a segway into his closed guard.

As he progressed he no longer needed to use his closed guard at all; he simply adapted his closed guard techniques to the Z Guard.

We don’t think you’re ever going to get a more honest and “open book” look into a top-level grappler’s thought process and actions than with Craig’s Z Guard Encyclopedia.

It contains an arsenal of Z-Guard techniques most grapplers don’t even know exist… If you are a serious grappler or even a recreational grappler who’d simply like to dominate at your gym and get your due respect, then this series is a must have for you.



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