Improve Your Open Guard Retention
A major aspect of Jiu Jitu I struggled with a lot during white belt and blue belt years was guard retention. I did have a good guard in the sense that if I had you where I wanted you, like closed guard or de la riva guard, I would be relatively successful at attacking you. The problem I had was when the top player would get close to passing my guard. This is where guard retention comes.
Personally, I think it is better to develop strong guard retention skills before developing strong guard attacks. If you have bad guard retention, and you make a mistake with a guard attack, you will probably get your guard passed. With good guard retention, you can make all the mistakes you want without the threat of getting your guard passed easily.
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The first tip I learned when it comes to guard retention, specifically open guard, it to spend a lot more time playing from a seated position than supine position. This is especially important when grappling without the gi or grappling with the gi but one hasn’t achieved good grips. The problem with supine guard retention is that it requires a lot of shrimping, and sometimes shrimping can be slow. While seated, though, it is easy to follow the guard passer rotationally and stay in front of them.
In the following video, Professor Tom Deblass illustrates why it is necessary to spend more time in a seated position shows examples of why.
The next important thing I realized when it comes to guard retention is that it is a skill best improved by drilling. There are no specific techniques when it comes to guard retention and because of that, it is a good idea to treat it differently. Rather than practicing it slowly, put some time on the clock and do some high intensity guard retention drills.
One drill that is great for both beginner and advanced students alike goes as following (drill is down-the-mat): The person doing the drill will lie down with their legs up, mimicking open guard, and the partner is standing in front of them. The partner will throw the driller’s legs to side and take a step as if they are passing guard. The driller will place both hands on the shin, shrimp away as far as possible, and square back. Repeat this drill on both sides as you go down the mat.
Are you a fan of playing guard? Now that you have sharpened up your retention It's time to DOMINATE!