How to Deal with a Tight Turtle Guard
At lower ranks, exposing your back by going to turtle to defend guard can be a bad option since one might not be skilled at staying tight and escaping back into a guard. However, we often see black belts turtle and get to a safer position with success.
A grappler with a good turtle can be frustrating to deal with. I remember a guy at our academy who, although only being a blue belt at the time, had one of the most difficult turtle guards ever.
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He would make no space at all for hooks or a seat belt grip and also had a tremendous base. It was entertaining watch other white and blue belts trying to figure this out, myself included.
My instructors also share this skill, being relatively small black belts. I knew that if they managed to turtle while I was passing their guard, they would always get to a safer position, usually back to butterfly guard.
As you train, you will often run into this issue. Without the appropriate knowledge and skill, you might never figure out how to deal with this. Fortunately for us, the great minds of Jiu Jitsu tend to figure out these problems quickly and share it with the rest of the world.
In the following video, Absolute MMA black belt and coach Lachlan Giles shows us two ways of dealing with difficult turtle guards. See below:
The first thing to focus on when trying fight a tight turtle guard is slow down your opponent when they try to escape, and they usually will try to escape. Since you can’t get a seatbelt grip, we are left with the grip that Lachlan shows us.
This grip works really well and will help slow down your opponent. If you can slow down their escape, you might be able to take their back. Actually, that’s the goal here. Since you cant force the back take, you have to do it in a trickier way, and this requires being one step ahead of your opponent.
By know the two main escapes turtled grapplers use, you will be able to drill these techniques and execute them in a roll or competition. By the way, the second back take Lachlan does is similar to the back take Craig Jones used against Leandro Lo in ADCC 2017.
Check out Lachlan's DVD "The Half Guard Anthology", and get to work on improving your half guard! BJJ Fanatics has it! Check it out here!
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