Insights from Catch Wrestling for the Closed Guard
Leg and foot control by Neil Melanson
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.
In grappling, whom ever is able to control space will generally be victorious. In this video, Melanson advocates that legs and foot control are key components for breaking down posture and controlling space from closed guard. Ironically, many of these techniques for closed guard Neil picked up in catch wrestling. One approach Neil uses is to insert grape vines into one or both of his opponent’s legs. He elaborates that the shins of the guard player should be flared out while the knees are pinched tight. Note, how he states correct pressure is one that will slow our opponent down and give us time to counter should our opponent try to back out of the position. Neil will use either one or two grape vines depending on his objectives. It is a beautiful setup for sweeps or submissions as well as a transition to butterfly guard. In my own grappling career, I struggle with closed guard when playing nogi. This approach is simple yet effective. Well done Neil.
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 below to learn Neil Melanson's Ground Marshall Guard System to completely revolutionize your closed guard and ground fighting game.