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John Danaher Reveals Critical Guard Retention Secrets
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John Danaher Reveals Critical Guard Retention Secrets

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Whether we’re speaking in terms of self defense or recreation jiu-jitsu, there may not be a more important theme then guard retention.

The ability to recompose, maintain, and use your guard are among the most important skills in all of BJJ. 

In a self-defense scenario, getting back to your guard could literally be life or death. During a legitimate attack, things move very fast, and having the skill to slow things down by retaining a guard could save your life. 

Generally speaking, if someone can’t pass your guard, it will be difficult for them to do anything to you, regardless of the setting.

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I learned very early that having a good guard was going to be an incredibly important part of my jiu-jitsu. I’m a smaller player, and I spent a great deal of time on my back when first learning, because people seemed to always be able to put me there. I had no choice but to gain a greater understanding of guard retention and to begin to develop a guard that was dangerous. I’m not saying that you don’t need to have a firm grasp on this concept if you’re a larger practitioner. This skill set is most definitely important no matter your size. 

John Danaher has released some incredible content on guard retention and if you’re familiar with his instruction and any of his previous work, you know that he approaches skill sets in a very systemized manner. This makes learning much easier and more accessible. 

First take a look at this quick video on guard retention theory. Here, Danaher explains that there are several different types of guard passing. It’s or job to gain an understanding of these different variations so that we can plan accordingly for proper guard retention. Take a look at this.

In this video Danaher gives us some insight in to one of the fundamental elements of guard retention. The scoot. This is one of the very first concepts we must familiarize ourselves with when learning to retain the guard. Have a look!

Danaher begins by explaining that there are many fundamental elements of guard retention, but here in this video he is going to discuss the concept of body movement. These initial movements must be mastered in order to be successful later, they are the building blocks of guard retention technique. 

Danaher categorizes guard retention in three different postures. Seated, supine, and the turtle. The seated guard is the focus is this particular video. 

Most of us understand what shrimping is. Its something we learn very early and it’s a key element of basic BJJ. Danaher presents us here with the idea of scooting. Which he describes as the seated from of the shrimping motion. 

From a seated position, Danaher’s partner begins to walk around his guard. As he travels to the left, Danaher turns to face him with his upper body, aligning himself with his partner. He then plants his foot and scoots his hips to now join hi upper body in squaring back up with the passer. 

As Danaher explains, the scoot is designed to increase the space between ourselves and the passer. As the pass progresses, the space decreases between Danaher and his partner, by applying the scoot to this setting he can once again create distance, and retain his guard. 

This motion can be done solo to get a feel for it. Danaher shows us how we can plant a hand, a foot, and perform the scoot without a body present, to practice covering distance with our hips. 

This next bit of instruction deals with the control of the head as it pertains to passer and also the guard player. Check this out!

Danaher begins with explaining the different methods in which the passer can control the head. These are with a cross face and with the lapels. Either of these methods in combination with control and passing of the legs are more than sufficient to begin a guard pass. As Danaher states, we must deny the passer control f the head at all costs. 

On the other end of the spectrum, Danaher suggests that as a guard pass begins to manifest itself, we block our head, as a boxer would. This defends the cross face and also puts us in position to take control over our partner’s bicep area, claiming the inside space. Regardless of the type of pass, controlling this inside space will allow us to retain our guard much easier, as it denies our opponent access to head control. 

Another fundamental principle of guard passing is the position of the passer’s legs and head. During a successful guard pass the two parts of the body must remain on opposite sides. In another example, Danaher’s partner attempts to complete a guard pass, but as he moves forward, Danaher creates a post on his head and moves away, creating a scenario where the passer’s head is on the same side as his hips. 

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If Danaher cannot join the head on the same side as the hips, he must at the very least keep his partners chest and head from getting too tight to his body. Creating the most amount of distance possible from his partner’s head to his own will be another pathway to guard retention success. 

If you think that learning the fundamentals of guard retention can be skipped, you may be in for a rude awakening at some point. This is important stuff. Failing to have the ability to retain the guard will leave you in trouble for certain, as you will be forced to deal with dominant positions over and over again. 

Make guard retention a priority early and perform routine maintenance on your skillset. Having an impassable guard is one of the most frustrating and coveted skills in all of BJJ. Good luck!

Gain the skills to never get your guard passed. John Danaher is here to make this a possibility! Check out his DVD "Go Further Faster: Guard Retention", and work to never have your guard passed again! Check it out here!

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