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INVERTED GUARD BJJ
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INVERTED GUARD BJJ

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly functional form of submission grappling, and the art has grown exponentially with innovation since Helio Gracie first showcased his self defense systems. Over the years there has been one development after another, with world class athletes adding their philosophy to the development of the art. Roberto Correa added his dominance with the bjj half guard, Marcelo Garcia added his innovation of the back take, and the guillotine choke, Xande Ribeiro added his ideology of the impassable guard, and the diamond guard bjj system, and Eddie Bravo shared his knowledge of No Gi, and Mixed Martial Arts by developing his intricate jiu jitsu rubber guard system. 

What this article covers:

The modern day athlete has a large range of technical systems to adopt into their game styles. The availability of these technical components are extremely accessible thanks to platforms like bjjfanatics.com, and YouTube. The sharing of grappling knowledge across the world wide web, has seen a rise in the technical capabilities of many athletes on a global scale. The international No Gi competitive scene has become extremely popular due to many high level athletes like Gordon Ryan, Craig Jones, Andre Galvao, and Felipe Pena. Many of these athletes are now using the innovative systems of the inverted guard, and other intricate guard systems like the 50/50 guard, the saddle guard, and the ashi gurami guard. Many of these guard systems will help athletes trap their opponents into the leg entanglement bjj game, where there is a high chance of submissions like the heel hook, the toe hold, and the knee bar.

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WHAT IS THE INVERTED GUARD

The inverted guard is one of those new aged techniques like the bjj donkey guard, the 50/50 guard, the rubber guard truck position, and the bjj z guard. These modern day guards are often frowned upon by the wider generational community, but are accepted, and utilised by the newer athletes of the sport.

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bjj inverted guard

The inverted guard is an effective weapon that will enhance a student's ability to access leg lock submissions, chokes, arm locks, as well as attack the back by using the berimbolo. To execute the inverted guard a student will roll over onto their shoulders, and look to use their legs as a means to attack. This upside down position has its dangers, but once a student understands the game, this guard can be extremely influential on how the match will go. The inverted guard is a technical way to attack arm bars, and leg locks, while causing confusion, and trouble for an opponent who is trying to pass the guard.

IS IT DANGEROUS TO INVERT

Inverting in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be a dangerous maneuver, especially for beginners, or students with previous neck, or back injuries. The art of inverting takes constant repetition, and a significant core strength to safely execute this technique. If a student is reckless, or lazy with their invert it can lead to a lot of weight loading on their neck. Sometimes an opponent will stack the inverted student, which can add significant pressure to the neck, and spine, which can cause debilitating injuries, or even death. It is important to understand how to effectively use this technique, and how to identify when to use it, when to bail out of it, and if they should do it at all. Some opponents are too strong, or too skilful, meaning if the student uses an invert then it could be to their detriment. Training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all about longevity, so utilising dangerous techniques like the inverted guard, should only be attempted by athletes that have had considerable experience with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and have a high level of guidance to help them succeed.

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HOW TO PRACTICE INVERSION

Utilising inversion techniques is a transitional must these days, as the technical movement can be extremely advantageous for a number of different reasons. Learning how to use inversion techniques is a concept that does take time, core strength, and technical knowledge. The best way to start the learning process is by practising a half granby roll. To do this technique the student should start in a seated position, before falling onto their side. From here it is important to activate their core lifting up onto the blades of their shoulders, before kicking their legs forward, and landing in a seated position again. It is an important tip for a student not to lay on their own neck, as this can be extremely dangerous. Once the student has mastered the half granby, then they can attempt the full granby. This technique is the same as the half granby, with an added difference. Once the student rolls sideways onto their shoulders, all they have to do is continue the momentum in the same direction, and roll over their other shoulder, landing in a seated position after a full sideways rotation.

Once the student is confident with executing the granby roll, they can begin to put the invert into practice during a live roll. It is vital to still take precautions, and only attempt this technique against light opponents. This will help the athlete gain confidence within their inversion game, as they begin to explore different techniques within the game style. Once the student has a fundamental understanding of how to invert, they can start to use these methods against all training partners. However, it is a smart move to refrain from using inversion techniques against heavy opponents, at least until the student has a more comprehensive understanding, and technical proficiency with the inversion game style.

THE HISTORY OF THE INVERTED GUARD

The art of inversion has been around as long as there has been a bjj open guard, and this technical aspect was mainly used as a way to escape from positions. The guard went through a significant development stage after Roberto Magalhaes got hold of the concept. Roberto was also known as Roleta, and his innovation with the inversion technique turned it from a defensive measure, into an attacking formation that became a plan A for many future grapplers. Because Roberto had a tall and lanky frame, the art of inversion seemed to come naturally to the Gracie Barra prodigy. By the time Roberto was a brown belt, his high level guard was endorsed by the great Carlos Gracie, and this forced the Gracie legend to promote Roberto to the black belt level in 1996. Shortly after Roberto would compete at the World Jiu Jitsu Championships, where he was tipped to come up short against the formidable passing monster in Walid Ismail. Roberto would showcase his inverted guard by defeating Ismail with an inverted guard sweep in the dying seconds of the semi final, before going on to win the Mundial. The notoriety that Roberto, and his inverted guard received was exponential, and led to the future development of this guard into mainstream Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques.

SWEEPS FROM THE INVERTED GUARD 

There are many different avenues to an inverted sweep like the inverted half guard, the inverted closed guard, the inverted lasso guard and many more. Understanding the invert will open a whole new world of technical movements to a student, as there is a monumental number of sweeps to execute. A good sweep is the inverted lasso sweep, which requires a student to firstly secure the lasso from the open guard position. From here they can use their hand to cup the ankle, and then use their leg to stretch out their opponent's hip so they can execute the invert onto their shoulder. From here the student can unhook their leg from inside of the hip, and then circle it over the back leg of their opponent, as they move back into a seated position. The momentum of this movement will create a sweeping action, as they use their lasso to push them over onto their back. Not only is this a highly technical sweep, it will expose a leg lock entry.

Another really easy sweep to execute starts with a student accessing the bjj spider guard. From here they can use baits to try and shift their opponent's weight distribution. The student should have two sleeve grips with one foot in the elbow stretching it high, with their other leg almost in a half guard position. As their opponent tries to move their weight forward the student can tilt their wrist inwards, which will make an easy transition into an inverted position. From here the student should move their head towards their own knees, pulling their opponent in towards them, and extending their top leg, which will force the opponent to topple over, as the student rolls through and lands on top in a significant control position.

SUBMISSIONS FROM THE INVERTED GUARD 

There are many different submissions that can be accessed from the inverted guard position. Using different guard systems in conjunction with the inverted guard, can make a world of difference with the success rate of this guard concept. An easy submission to go for is the inverted triangle, as the student will start from the closed guard position. The first step is to secure a cross grip on both of their opponent's sleeves, and this will allow the student to open their guard, placing their right leg on the hip, and shrimping out to their left side. An important tip is to make sure the foot is pushing firmly into the hip, so that the student can isolate their opponent's arms away from their torso. The students left leg will now plant off the middle of their opponent's chest, as their right leg will come off the hip, and stretch out to their left side. This will enable the student to invert and place both of their feet into their opponent's armpits. The student will then shoot their right leg under their opponent's opposite armpit, as their left leg shoots over the neck, and rotates into a triangle position. All the student has to do now is tighten up their triangle, and they will get the tap.

Another good submission is the arm bar, and this maneuver is a good choice from all guard positions. The first step is to set up a traditional arm bar from the closed guard, and wait for their opponent to stand up to try and escape their arm. From here this will give the student enough space to roll into an inverted position, as they keep hold of their opponent's arm. The opponent will usually use their free arm to come in and defend their other arm from any kind of hyperextension. As the opponent does this, then the student can use the momentum of their invert to roll through, and take a grip on their second arm. From here they will land in a tight arm lock, as they use the leverage to hyperextend their opponent's arm. This can catch an opponent off guard, and can be a highlight type of submission.

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HOW TO PASS THE INVERTED GUARD

The inverted guard can be problematic to a guard passer, and this is because the guard can have unexpected transitions for the passer to deal with. Firstly, attempting to navigate the inverted guard can be bypassed from the beginning, as the student can basically just not engage the legs at all, and circle away from danger. This will allow the student to access their opponent from a severely stacked position. Sometimes the guard player will be extremely good at inverting so that no matter how many times the student circles around, their opponent will keep on inverting giving them a problem to solve.  An important tip to remember when approaching an inverted guard, is not to put their leg too far forward, and especially not in between their opponents legs, as this will make it easy for them to wrap their legs around the students leg, and access leg lock submissions.

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bjj inverting

To pass the inverted guard the student must first take grips on the ankles of their opponent, but they must keep their feet backwards, and out of danger. The only problem with keeping their feet back means they cannot pass their opponent's guard. This means that the students will start to work their hands down to the mid shin of their opponent, but this will allow their opponent to start using their hands on the student's chest, which continues to make it hard to pass the guard. Now the student will access the knees of their opponent, using them to push inwards, and to the side, which can start to become problematic for their opponent. As they begin to circle in and out of their opponent's legs, they can pummel in using their head, and shoulder pressure, as they get in nice and close to their opponent's head. This will stifle any inverted guard attempt, and force their opponent to use a different tactic to gain their advantage back. Passing any sort of guard, especially the inverted guard takes some strategy, athleticism, and technical aptitude, but most of all perseverance to keep on applying their pressure into the body of their opponent. 

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