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LAPEL GUARD BJJ
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LAPEL GUARD BJJ

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The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a long standing history that originates from Japanese Jujutsu, and Kodokan Judo. Many of the technical components in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu started off as original Judo maneuvers. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Judo still share a common theme, as they both use Gi uniforms, which are used as weapons during their respective matches. Utilising Gi grips is crucial in Judo to execute throwing techniques, and just like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the vital importance of using the right grips at the right time makes this art exciting to practice. 

What this article covers:

There are many guards that can be employed during competition matches like the bjj closed guard, the de la riva guard, the lasso guard, the jiu jitsu butterfly guard and many more. The lapel guards use a higher level of control than most traditional guards. Using lapels to wrap around an opponents neck, or to trap their limbs can be extremely effective but also complicated. There are multiple avenues of attack, and defense by utilising lapel wraps, as many world class athletes like Keenan Cornelius, Paulo Miyao, Kauan Barboza, Joao Miyao all use these extensive controls during their competition matches.

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WHAT IS THE LAPEL GUARD

There are many different lapel guards that can be utilised like the lasso guard, the worm guard, the gubber guard, the de la worm guard, the bjj spider guard, the squid guard and many more. Essentially a lapel guard is when a practitioner uses the structure of their Gi uniform to trap, or wrap up their opponent's limbs or neck. This means using the tip of their lapel, or their opponent's lapel to secure a wrap around an arm, a leg, the neck, or around the body of their opponent.

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lapel guard in bjj

The lapel is used as an extension of a student's limbs, in order to reach deeper into positions, or to utilise the rope like grip around the neck. Using just a plain grip is much easier to defend than a lapel wrap, and this is because once a lapel is wrapped around a neck or a limb it can act like a noose, making it extremely hard to escape. The lapel guard is a powerful weapon that will help students achieve greater amounts of leverage over their opponents.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GRIPS IN BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU 

Using grips in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most important factors. Grips are used in almost every situation, from passing the guard, to defending submissions, to attacking submissions. Using a grip on an opponent can be extremely stifling, as it can neutralise them, and cause frustration, and panic within the opponent. The importance of grips is exponential, but what is even more important is the re-grip factor. Using grips to set up different techniques are important, but switching grip half way through a technique is how the movement will ultimately work. All guards require grips, especially positions like the de la riva guard, the x guard, and the bjj open guard. The competitor that secures the dominant grip position first is usually in a more advantageous position. There is always a chance at a counter grip, but essentially an opponent will need to respect the grip, and attempt to break the grip if they want to successfully secure their own grips.

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WHO INVENTED THE LAPEL GUARD 

There are many world class athletes that can be credited to utilising lapel guards in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Athletes like Kauan Barboza, Bernardo Faria, Braulio Estima, Andre Galvao, Caio Terra, and the Mendes brothers all are extremely well known as lapel players on the Jiu Jitsu circuit. In fact most Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts will use their fair share of lapel wraps during their careers. There is one athlete that does stand out with his extraordinary series of lapel guards. Keenan Cornelius is a highly intelligent grappler who has developed a few different lapel guards like the worm guard, the de la worm guard, the reverse worm guard, and the gubber guard. Keenan was a former Atos prodigy training under Andre Galvao, and Lloyd Irvin, before founding the Legion American Jiu Jitsu academy. Keenan's controversy about calling his style of grappling, "American Jiu Jitsu" has sparked worldwide interest, as the community have been divided on this issue. Although no one can question Keenan's credentials, as he has achieved world titles in the Gi, and the No Gi divisions at the brown belt level, and has won two No Gi World Championships at the black belt level. Keenan's revolutionary lapel guards are exceptional, and are available on the bjjfanatics.com platform. 

LAPEL GUARD SWEEPS

There are many interesting lapel guard sweeps from all sorts of different positions. In order to effectively set up these positions practitioners in bjj pull guard so they can utilise their skills sets. The first sweep set up is from the de la riva guard, where the athlete will wrap their leg around the outside of their opponent's leg, and thread it back in by securing the inside of their leg with the athlete's hook, and securing their opponent's hip with their other leg. From here they will look to grab the tip of their opponent's far lapel, and wrap it around their own leg that is in their hip. Now the athlete can bring the weight of their opponent on top of them, as they switch the lapel grip to their opposite hand. Now they can continue to drag the lapel around the outside of their close leg, and switch the grip again. Finally the athlete can now thread their de la riva hook deep into their opponent's far leg, as they execute this easy sweep into the back control position. 

This next sweep is from the x guard, which is a highly popular guard system. This starts from the open guard, where the athlete will open up the lapel with their left hand, creating tension and stepping up high into the open lapel with their right foot. The next step is to under hook their opponent's leg, as they swing their left leg outwards, creating a pendulum and then kicking their opponent forward with their trapped lapel. Now they can slip their left leg in behind the knee, and into an x guard, as they pass the lapel through their legs, and into their right hand. Now the athlete can use these controls to kick their opponent forward, as they post off the mat, allowing the athlete to lift the leg and use a technical stand up. They can then look to push their opponent's leg down and to the side, as they consolidate the guard pass. 

The gubber guard is another system developed by Keenan Cornelius, where he took functions from Eddie Bravo's bjj rubber guard and applied it to the Gi. In this system an athlete will look to set this up from the closed guard, as they open their opponent's lapel and feed it up behind the back, and wrap it over their leg to initiate a Gi rubber guard position. To execute a sweep from here the athlete will stretch the lapel high and place their foot into it, as they extend their leg. At the time they can reach the knee grip of their opponent's far leg, and basically execute a variation of the Xande sweep, where they pull their opponent's leg out, and push it up and over, as they use the lapel control to pull their opponent to the ground.

SUBMISSIONS FROM THE LAPEL GUARD

Setting up submissions from the lapel guard can be extremely effective. One of the best systems is from the bjj full guard, and can be a really safe option to attack from. The athlete will start by opening the lapel of their opponent, and feeding the tip up behind their back, and around their neck, as they pass the tip to their other hand. Now the athlete has a really tight handle they can look to feed the grip back to their other hand, as they thread it underneath the neck of their opponent. From here the athlete can secure a brabo choke, or a cross collar choke by using their other hand across the front of their opponent, and securing a hand on the lapel. To finish the choke the athlete just needs to utilise a cross collar choking motion. 

Another good choke to go for from the closed guard is a sneaky lapel wrap choke. An athlete can break down the posture of their opponent by securing a necktie, and a tricep grip. The next step is for the athlete to grab their own lapel by the tip, and thread it around the back of their opponent's neck, feeding it to their other hand. From here they will thread their free arm underneath the lapel, switching grips, as they secure a grip underneath the neck. To finish this choke the athlete will grab hold of their lapel, sliding their hand right up against the neck of their opponent, as they use their other hand to pull the tip into the carotid artery, and forcing a tap from their opponent. 

Attacking arm bars is one of the most high percentage submissions from any guard. This is because the arms act as giant levers, and are accessible in a large variety of positions. It is also extremely easy to bail out of an armbar, and climb back into the guard position, making it one of the most favored techniques in BJJ. To secure an arm bar from a lapel wrap the athlete will start from the closed guard. The first step is to open up the lapel of the opponent, before feeding it around the back, and behind the neck, passing it to their other hand. From here they can now use their other hand to block the head, before swinging their leg in front of their opponent's face to expose the arm. To finish the arm bar the athlete can now let go of the lapel, placing both hands on the wrist of their opponent, and hyperextending the elbow joint to get the tap. 

Using lapel wraps to secure submissions is a great way to showcase an athlete's Jiu Jitsu skills. There are an abundance of different positions that can be used, and all the athlete has to do is explore wrapping the lapel around any of their controls. This is how the best innovators of the sport invent new systems, by exploring, and trying out new ideas. There is no wrong way in training, there is just exploration, and repetition, and this is how to bolster an athlete's lapel wrap game. There are many submissions that allow lapels to be the main catalyst. Submissions like arm bars from lasso guard, leg locks from the worm guard, modified Gi darce chokes from the omoplata setup, and triangles from just about every guard there is. Mastering lapel submissions is not just crucial to a successful Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athlete, it is also fun exploring these positions.

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HOW TO DEFEND LAPEL WRAPS

There are multiple ways of defending the lapel guard, and it highly depends on which lapel guard an opponent has. Andre Galvao uses a pass against the squid guard that is very easy to execute. This guard is where an athlete threads their leg on top of their opponent's far leg, and underneath their lapel, using their Gi jacket to secure the leg, and gripping the tip by threading their arm underneath the calf of the same leg. Andre uses a reverse stack pass, where he uses a good base to spread open the guard of his opponent, as he looks to circle away from his opponent's attacking leg. From here he will circle fast, threading his arm underneath the attacking leg, and taking a grip on the collar, as he moves into a north south position. Finally to break open the lapel guard he will apply pressure with his hips into the arm of his opponent, as the pressure will force the opponent to let go of the grip. From here the attacker will use their top game pressure to gain a dominant control position. 

In the modern day of grappling practitioners are using lapel wraps from new innovative positions like the squid guard, and the worm guard. Athletes may often encounter this style of guard technique, and need to find ways to improve their chances of defending these grips. Some athletes will try grabbing hold of their own lapel, as they simply try to posture up, and this is basically a waste of time against high level opponents. The athlete will have a much more successful time by trying to attack the tail of their own lapel, and look to pull it out of their opponent's fingers. This is a more natural way of breaking the grip, because there is no fight against the leverage, and makes for a more high percentage grip break. 

GI VS NO GI WHICH SYSTEM IS BETTER

There is always a lot of debate surrounding which discipline of Jiu Jitsu is better, the Gi or No Gi. This is a hard question to answer, as both styles have their strengths, and their weaknesses. There are many traditionalists that believe Gi is by far the more superior version, as it has a much more extensive range of techniques available. The tradition of the Gi dates back to feudal Japan, where the ancient Samurai would wear the Gi kimono during their generations of war. This tradition, and warrior spirit has been passed down into the heritage of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There is also the added history of Helio and Carlos Gracie, who taught the art to future generations, and helped to develop what the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game actually looks like today. These are strong reasons for why the Gi Jiu Jitsu has a stronger calling, and the IBJJF Gi World Championships are still the biggest tournament in the world today.

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lapel guard jiu jitsu

The art of No Gi also has history that dates back to the early days of catch wrestling, and vale tudo, where the Gracie clan would dominate the Brazilian landscape against famous luta livre fighters. The art of No Gi actually was the inspiration for Mixed Martial Arts, and what the UFC has become. Nowadays the rise of international No Gi competition has reached the mainstream media coverage, with the televised professional circuit of the ADCC, Fight 2 Win, Who's Number One, and Metamoris. The No Gi discipline has begun to surge with popularity, as it caters more for the avid guard players who delve into the leg entanglement bjj game style. There is certain submissions like the heel hook that are legal in No Gi competition, but even though this form of grappling has began to make significant headway into becoming the more dominant form of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the fact still remains that the old traditional style of the Gi will always take seniority over the No Gi style. 

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