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Getting Off The Center Line In Closed Guard By The Incomparable Neil Melanson

Getting Off The Center Line In Closed Guard By The Incomparable Neil Melanson


The little things are the big things in Jiu Jitsu…

Who is Neil Melanson? Neil could easily be considered one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Neil was the head coach of the infamous Blackzillians MMA Team and Randy Couture’s Xtreme Couture gym. He has coached some of the best UFC fighters to ever compete to the pinnacle of the sport including Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, Matt Mitrione and many more. His students have given high praise. Chael Sonnen said, “Neil would slap Rickson Gracie around like it was easy.” Jiu Jitsu black belt and former UFC Champion Vitor Belfort stated that “Neil could triangle anybody in any room.”

Neil boasts a unique education when it comes to grappling.  He began his education at the Hayastan School where he learned techniques from Catch Wrestling, Judo and Sambo from world renowned coaches Gene Lebel and Gokor Chivichyan. His grappling style is a combination of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Catch Wresting and Sambo. He is the living embodiment of the Bruce Lee quote, "Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is essentially your own.”

Beyond his impressive education and grappling abilities, Neil is an extremely capable teacher. He takes a meticulous approach and breaks down the detail so that is can be easily understood by even the grappling novice.

Neil is known as a hybrid grappler, mixing elements of Catch as Catch Can Wrestling, Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.



There is an adage in Jiu Jitsu, “Angles make strangles.” This is certainly true. However, angles are of the upmost importance in everything in Jiu Jitsu; not just in submissions. In this video, Neil explores the importance of getting off the center line in beautiful detail. He starts by talking about the value of the legs. Legs are used to delay escape, however cutting an angle is the key to all offensive movement and should be done first. He describes the goal as to be “off line.” On a certain level, this is having your center line off to the side of your opponent in a very similar fashion to a boxer cutting an angle. He is square to you but on his side.  However, there is more to Neil’s off line position. Neil advocates having one foot on your opponent’s hip, the other on the back. Knees should be pinched. On the side where your foot is on your opponent’s hips, you should have an over hook.  Everything should be nice and tight. Your hips should be off the mat.  If you are unable to create an angle with your foot on your opponent’s hips, grape vining his leg is another excellent strategy to do so. Melanson explores the idea that your opponent can delay your attack. He needs to get your foot off of his hips and then square up. Both grapplers always want to control angles. It is certainly in your interest to stop any angles that do not align with your plans.

Often times in life we want to skip the fundamentals and go to the big things. We want to run before we walk. However, in grappling like life, the little things are the big things. Neil warns us that if we do not master this concept the closed guard will be a useless position against higher belts and we will suffer till we learn it.

Many consider Neil Melanson to be a mad scientist of grappling. This sequence is a fine testament to that. His approach is not based on a singular style but a hybrid of many approaches. He is obsessed with independent and free thinkers like Nicola Tesla and his style of grappling is brilliant testament to that.  If you have ever seen Neil’s instructional videos than you certainly understand what we mean. If you have not had the privilege, click on the link to learn Neil Melanson's Ground Marshall Guard System to completely revolutionize your closed guard and ground fighting game.




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