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Learning To Pull Guard With Samuel Braga

Learning To Pull Guard With Samuel Braga


Pulling guard in grappling competition has been unfairly maligned for far too long. Critics disparaging guard pulling will point to the practicalities of a street fight. What they ignore is that pulling guard in competition does not indicate incompetence in takedowns or that the guard puller would make the same decision in a self-defense situation. A large percentage of jiu-jitsu practitioners participate in the sport for reasons outside of self-defense. A common reason for participation is competition. When a competitor pulls guard in competition it tells us that they have made a tactical decision based on specific advantages they perceive in a matchup. Reasons may include the particular contrast in skills between opponents, ruleset incentives, or individual strengths. 

If you want to pull guard in competition, don’t be ashamed. In fact, your time would be well-spent practicing guard pulls. As demonstrated by Samuel Braga in the video below, guard pulling is as detail oriented as any technique in grappling. Guard pulling gone wrong can result in a quick pass for the opponent placing you in a disadvantaged position both on the mat and the scoreboard. Thus it is important to be patient, meticulous, and well practiced in your guard pulls. Let’s take a look at the pull to De La Riva Samuel Braga explains in the video below.



Making The Connection

Guard pulling sequences all begin with an initial connection. Typically the person who wins the grip fighting exchange wins the exchange as a whole. Because of this, competitors are wary of allowing their opponent to establish their preferred grips. They will move away from grips, swat them down, and a myriad of other strategies just to prevent their opponent from establishing grips. Braga anticipates this resistance and teaches to grip for the lapel rather than the sleeve. Gripping the lapel is advantageous because the arms are mobile targets which a person can easily retract and avoid sleeve grips. Relative to the arms, the torso is a stationary target allowing a guard puller to more consistently establish a grip.


Check Out "Berimbolos For Everyone!" Click Learn More!



Where To Land

While the technique is to pull into De La Riva guard, there is an intermediate position. As Braga initiates the move, he pulls his knees to his chest and places the foot opposite of the controlled lapel into the opponent’s armpit. Braga’s leg on the same side as the lapel is positioned under the arm with the foot hooking the back of the opponent’s shoulder. Here, with the legs extended, Braga is vulnerable to the pass. He notes that this threat can be mitigated by transitioning his arm, gripping the lapel to an elbow grip and pulling the knees to his chest. This simultaneously breaks their posture and makes his body more compact. Once the opponent senses the danger in his broken posture, he will recover by shifting his weight back. This creates an opening for Braga to insert his shallow de la riva hook.

Maintaining The Angle

After inserting the de la riva hook, Braga points out the angle that he has created. Angles in jiu jitsu are critical for creating an asymmetry in opportunity, commonly referenced by John Danaher, which can be exploited. Being the experienced black belt that he is, Braga is aware of this and is vigilant about maintaining this angle. He accomplishes this by keeping his knees pinched together. When the knees are flared out the opponent can remove the foot framing their shoulder, stuff it down, and square up. At this point, Braga elucidates the function of the foot in the shoulder. By pressuring with the foot in the armpit and simultaneously pulling the opposite side lapel and using your hand gripping their elbow to flare their arm you can create or maintain the angle so crucial to playing an effective De La Riva guard. 

Learning to pull guard is a technical endeavor. You will need to practice this so that you can pull it off in competition. Even if you are a takedown artist, being able to pull guard will give you options in competition. Watch the instructional here...Berimbolos for Everyone by Samuel Braga! find a partner, and drill this so that you can cleanly pull into an attacking position when it counts!



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