Lazy But Deadly Closed Guard
One of the single most frustrating positions to be caught in would be someone's closed guard. The opponent has the strongest part of their body, their hips and their legs wrapped around you controlling your potential escapes and also maintaining a safe distance and preventing you from coming forward. There seem to be endless traps for you to fall into, from having your lapel or your sleeves controlled and your posture broken. You literally have zero attacks and must constantly be on the defense and looking for a way out.
From the bottom closed guard player's perspective, what better place to have someone trapped. Unlike many positions, where the opponent can create some offense, when you have them neutralized in a tight closed guard, you have them exactly where you need them, where they have zero attacks. Which begs the question, why do more people not perfect their closed guards?
Closed guard is one of the first positions we learn.
Think about it. When you first start BJJ, everything is a blur of new moves. One class on the classic closed guard arm bar, check. Moving on. One class on the classic closed guard, triangle, check. One class on the classic closed guard collar choke, check. Boom, we've mastered the closed guard. Wait, my opponent opens up my closed guard? WTF do I do now? I'd better start working on my open guard and side control escapes.
Everyone is in a rush to add more techniques to their arsenals and patience isn't always one of the virtues of being a new student. What you begin to realize is that true mastery of a position is something that may or may not exist and that you can always refine and improve. So take your time and don't forget the classics positions that are truly powerful and will never let us down, requiring less athleticism.
Closed guard isn't the sexy new position.
As one of the first techniques we learn, it seems natural that people associate it with being a beginner, a white belt. With all of the amazing developments and creative techniques that are constantly developing, its very natural to be attracted to the sexy new techniques, whether they are the latest form of guard or perhaps leg attacks. While this is one of the most amazing aspects of jiu jitsu in that it is always evolving, one must never forget to solidify the positions that will always be the fundamentals. Closed guard is effective, because it works and it provides a safe place from which to launch many offensive attacks from a relatively safe position. Closed guard works on the streets, on the mats, and in the MMA cage, just ask Royce Gracie how beneficial it was in 1993 when he was busy changing the martial arts landscape.
Still got some holiday gift cards burning a hole in your pocket? Check out the BJJ Fanatics gift guide exploring some additional Closed Guard specific instruction!
Let's take a look at some simple to apply closed guard techniques from our latest release "Lazy Closed Guard" from Rodrigo Artilheiro.
There are a few key takeaways from this version of the scissor sweep that can be implemented within seconds to improve your closed guard. Lazy tips don't necessarily mean without effort, but instead, it's about working smarter instead of harder.
The lapel grip that Rodrigo recommends is a grip that is not too deep. It is common when teaching the classic scissor sweep to encourage the student to slide the hand deep into the collar and around the neck, much like you would use for a collar choke. What this grip fails to do, is give you an option if the opponent hunkers down and looks to control your hips with their upper body posture tight. Rodrigo's collar bone grip gives you the pressure and leverage to drive the opponent's torso away creating the distance necessary to put the scissor sweep into motion.
The second key takeaway is the idea of using your feet for grips as much as you use your hands. Rather than having a lazy foot that simply dangles at the end of the one's leg, Rodrigo recommends maintaining active pressure and control with your toes and feet. In the case of the scissor sweep, you would grip the opponent's side and torso with the instep of your foot tightly rather than just leave your foot dangle.
In the video below, Rodrigo demonstrates an ultra tight armbar that can be captured off a failed scissor sweep attempt.
Wrist locks can be one of the most sneaky, but effective techniques and when an opponent is simply looking for a way out of your closed guard, they often leave themselves exposed for these attacks, because they forget their grips and essentially leave their hands behind to be caught in a strong and lazy closed guard practitioner's trap. In the video below, Rodrigo breaks down a wrist lock from the bottom that will have your opponents at a loss for how to begin getting out because they will be afraid to commit grips.
There is an old story about an interview with one of Johnny Cash's guitar players back in the day, where he was asked what he thought about all the new, fast, and flashy guitar players that were coming up in the ranks. Without hesitation, he said that some people are still looking for the secret and I've already found it. This idea can be applied to our BJJ game. As more and more innovation happens and new games are created to answer specific problems, it can be easy to forget the classic positions and techniques that have survived the test of time.
Some might argue that the closed guard is a dying art. For more on this idea and exploring how you can keep it alive, check out this article from BJJ Fanatics!
It's never too late to go back to closed guard and make it better, or in this case more "lazy" which means more efficient and more effective. No matter what your belt level, the closed guard will never let you down and will give you endless opportunities to dominate your training partners and competition.
Are you ready to add some killer weapons to your closed guard game? Check out Rodrigo Artilheiro's "Lazy Closed Guard" and don't be fooled by the name. You will quickly begin to terrorize your training partners and opponents with these easy to implement sweeps and submissions, available in both DVD and On Demand formats here at BJJ Fanatics!
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