Fundamental Uses of X Guard with Neiman Gracie
The ability to transition form one guard to another is imperative. Whether you are talking about a Jiu Jitsu competition, an MMA fight, or a street fight, position can change quickly and you need to have the ability to transition accordingly.
Being able to transition from one guard to another also has the ability to open up tons of submission attempts. All that you have available to you can instantly change by switching to another guard, and if done technically and efficiently it can give you a step ahead of your partner.
Different philosophy is believed by different practitioners, but generally you want to avoid fighting off your back, particularly in MMA. In Jiu Jitsu some people build their game off of the back and like to play from there, but when punches are involved it definitely puts you at a disadvantage.
In Jiu Jitsu and MMA, you know that inevitably in a fight you are going to spend time on your back at some point. Utilizing the X guard provides a bunch of opportunities for sweeps, transitions into submissions, and protection if there is punching involved.
It is important to note that in this video both Neiman and his partner are wearing MMA gloves, as Neimans instructional focuses on Jiu Jitsu for MMA. Whether or not you train and plan on fighting MMA, it does not hurt to train Jiu Jitsu with the intention of protecting yourself from punches. Obviously you don’t have to worry about being punched in a Jiu Jitsu competition, but the use of Jiu Jitsu is extremely practical for self defense, and if something ever happened to you on the street you would want to know how to protect yourself from punches.
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Neiman begins by explaining that the intention for training Jiu Jitsu for MMA is to always keep moving. Staying stuck in one spot leaves you open to taking a lot of damage. To begin this technique, Neiman has his partner in the closed guard. His goal is to get to the butterfly guard and go for a sweep. To get here he traps the head, hip escapes, gets an overhook and creates the space to get his hooks in.
When he gets his hooks in he sits up, keeping the overhook on one arm and controlling the glove of his opponent's other hand to prevent being punched. Neiman gives the example that as he goes for the sweep, his partner postures up and posts his leg as a base and prevents getting swept. This is the instant where you need to realize you are probably not going to get the sweep, and you need to keep moving and go for another move. This situation provides a great opportunity to transition to the X guard.
To get there Neiman lets go of the grip he had on his partners glove, and uses that arm to get an underhook on his partners leg. He uses that underhook to bring himself closer to his partner and to create an angle which allows him to switch his legs into the X guard. He notes that when he gets here it is likely that his partner is going to try to stand up and start punching him, so you have to go somewhere with the X guard.
To avoid being punched from here, you need to make your partner have no choice but to use his arms for something else. In this case, Neiman extends both of his legs in the X guard which extends and unbalances his partner, giving him no choice but to use both of his hands to base. From here your partner is not strong, and the leg which you underhooked should be right over your shoulder, which you will be taking advantage of.
Neiman explains that from here he is going to go for the traditional X guard sweep. To do this he puts one of his feet on his partners knee and his other foot on the ground. He pushes his partner's knee making him more off-balanced, and uses his foot on the ground and his base with his free hand to do a technical stand up. In doing this, he keeps his partner’s foot on his shoulder as he stands up. Once he is up, he uses the control of his partner’s leg to pull it towards him and begin attacking. Neiman explains there are multiple options from here including attacking the back, or securing the top position and starting to land punches if you are fighting MMA.
What is particularly cool about training this variation is that it does not matter whether you are practicing it for Jiu Jitsu, MMA, or just self defense. It is practical for all scenarios and is a great technique to have in your arsenal.
Neiman Gracie has been a professional MMA competitor since 2013, and competes in the Welterweight division of Bellator MMA. Neiman is a 4th generation member of the Gracie family and has medalled in Jiu Jitsu and the World NoGi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Pan Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship, and the New York International Open IBJJF Championship. Additionally, his impressive career at Bellator MMA speaks for itself.
His entire instructional focus is on modern Jiu Jitsu for MMA. He covers technique including combinations from the clinch, scoop grab sweep back take, striking for submissions, hip toss pass, and a whole volume dedicated to submissions.
Neiman’s background and career have shaped him into an impressive competitor and teacher. Take your game to the next level with someone with extensive and practical experience in the art, check out Neiman Gracies instructional here!