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How To Develop A Strong Closed Guard
How To Have A Stronger Closed Guard
If there is one move that is easy to learn and hard to master it is closed guard. From day one of your BJJ experience you have probably known about the closed guard. It is one of the most fundamental guard positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is the center of focus for even the most beginner students. Therefore it is no surprise that high level BJJ masters dedicate their entire careers to becoming highly proficient at fundamental techniques such as closed guard. There are entire seminars, volumes of DVD series, and a bottomless pit of videos on YouTube discussing the closed guard. So what makes closed guard such a difficult thing to master? For starters, the closed guard is immediately applicable to any self defense on the ground. From there it opens up into a world of finishing techniques and sweeps. So what are some ways to give oneself a stronger closed guard?
The Closed Guard Can Be One Of The Most Dangerous Attacking Positions In Jiu Jitsu. The fundamentals principles of keeping your opponent contained is what is important.
Let’s watch the video below of Stephan Kesting demonstrating closed guard principles and then will explore some basic techniques.
The very first tip is simple: Keep your legs locked around your opponent, do not get lazy with those legs or forget about them while you are breaking down your oppponent’s posture. Keep those legs locked and stay connected to your opponent. You can add variation to your closed guard by where you lock your legs around your opponent. You could lock them around the lower back, or you could lock them above the shoulders. This would still be considered a variation of closed guard.
In closed guard grips are everything. You want to control your opponent’s hands and arms in order to break down their posture, and keep them from escaping or submitting. Kesting demonstrates the basic cross collar grip: one hand controlling the wrist, the other deep in the collar. Pause the video right here and take note of Kesting’s grips. He uses 4 fingers to wrap the gi sleeve, making a fist with his thumb. His other grip is deep inside the collar. Notice the back of his hand is directly at the side of his opponent’s neck. The deeper you can get with this grip the better. This is a great way to break your opponent’s posture using the cross collar grip, and pulling in with your legs and feet. Some people prefer to grab the gi pants and collar, or gi pants and gi sleeve. These are variations that set up different sweeps. Another very effective way to control your opponent is with the over hook. Take note of Stephan Kesting’s technique here. Not only does he secure the over hook he opens his opponent’s gi and grabs his lapel to establish a tight connection, making it hard for his opponent to break his grip. From here he can control his opponent’s neck. This is actually a very widely used position in MMA because it makes it difficult for the guy on top to punch or land a killer knockout. Another option would be to go for the under hook to control your opponent. That is how you can use your legs and arms to control your opponent from closed guard.
The next thing Stephan Kesting focuses on is what his hips are doing. Kesting emphasizes tilting the hips, so that you are not flat on your back. You can also rotate your hips away from your opponent so that he is not facing you direct on. If you are flat on your back with your shoulders on the ground, you are defending from what Kesting calls a “dead” position: making if very difficult to mount an effective attack. One important move for closed guard is to get your foot up on your opponent’s hip so you can rotate your hips and get your leg high up on your opponent’s back, clamping down on his neck, breaking his posture. Putting your foot on his hips creates the angle necessary to do this. Even though your ankles are not crossed in this position, that 90 degree adjustment with your hips is what makes this a very important closed guard position.
These are some awesome tips from Stephan Kesting that are sure to strengthen your closed guard. Remember to control with your hands, arms, legs, and hips. Breaking down your opponent’s posture is a great way to avoid getting punched in the face in an MMA or real life street fight scenario. Use over hooks and under hooks to stay connected to your training partner. And remember not to get caught in a “dead” position with your back and shoulders flat on the mat. Stay dynamic with those hips and your closed guard will surely become more effective!