Keenan’s 8 Layers of Guard
Building The Impassable Guard! Do It With Keenan!
Keenan Cornelius is an Atos Black Belt and most popular for his guard abilities. He is extensively skilled at maintaining his guard and using unorthodox guard positions to sweep and submit great opponents. Keenan has developed newer guard styles such as the worm guard and mantis guard. Because of Keenan’s success with guard, it may be worthwhile learning his philosophy behind how the guard should be played.
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Keenan focuses extensively on concepts and philosophies and makes Jiu Jitsu quite interesting to objectively examine. One concept he uses to describe the guard is by what he calls the “8 Layers of Guard.” Although this idea is simple and important, it is very rare to hear of anything similar to it. As someone who likes to learn by concept and philosophy, I have employed this idea to fix the many problems of my own guard.
Although numerous submissions can be attacked from the positions Keenan discusses, and those submissions should be attempted, this philosophy relates more to guard defense. In the following video, Keenan explains the philosophy behind his guard defense and explains how to properly employ it.
Personally, I like a simplified version of this philosophy that I can use in both Gi and no-Gi effectively. The simplified version includes a hierarchical layer of feet, knees, hips, and then final defense of hip escaping and pushing. This simplified version also helps to explain to beginners the concept behind what guard is and how to effectively employ the various positions involved.
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I also employ this concept when passing the guard. If there are layers for guard retention, those are the same layers a passer must defeat to move to a superior attacking position. This gets interesting when both a guard passer and guard player are skilled as you can visually see each battle for a guard layer occur live.
If you are a conceptual learner and like to employ philosophies such as the one above, I highly recommend watching more of Keenan’s videos as he has numerous ideas that are not commonly discussed. You can also subscribe to his video service for some great content most people won’t see.