Massively Important Fundamental Details Of The Spider Guard With Rafael Lovato Jr
Especially when training in the gi, the rabbit holes you can go down with all the different guards can be overwhelming. However, what will make going down those rabbit holes more fruitful is a true fundamental understanding of the guards themselves.
This includes what some people would consider the “small stuff” such as proper grips, body placement, and things of that nature. This is by no means “small stuff” because it is the foundation by which the technique is so successful. When you pound these details into your mind, you do them automatically when performing a technique and leave yourself more time and headspace to work on the more complicated stuff.
The spider guard is a great option because of the versatility it offers. From getting to the guard to all the places you can go with it, it is definitely something that should be drilled and utilized often. When you watch high level competitors do a bunch of fancy stuff from spider guard, remember that they got all the fundamentals down before they learned everything else.
In this video, Rafael Lovato Jr goes over some fundamental options and techniques from the spider guard and guard headquarters position, check it out below!
To set up the entry into the spider guard, Rafael chooses to demonstrate from starting in the closed guard and then first transitioning to the guard headquarters. He first gets double sleeve grips, opens his guard and hip escapes to allow him to place both of his feet on his opponents hips. Once your feet are on the hips your shins and knees should be pointing out, putting pressure on your opponent's arms and essentially rendering them useless. This is the guard headquarters.
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From here it is time to pick a leg and remove it from the hip and place it in your opponent's bicep. As you extend that leg into your opponent’s bicep, it should spin the rest of your body in the direction you are kicking. So, if you put your left leg in your opponent’s bicep and extend, it should swing the rest of your body to the left.
At this point the tension is being created not only by you extending your leg, but also by pulling your opponent's arm to keep everything tight. Some people tend to get fixated on only paying attention to the side with the leg in the bicep here, but it is important to keep constant outward stretching tension with your shin and knee on the other side as well. If you forget this part and your partner is able to free their other arm, the spider guard is essentially useless.
At this point you should notice how wide your opponent's arms are. This is exactly what you are trying to create, as it opens you up to attack a wide range of submissions, especially the omoplata which is one of Rafael’s go to attacks from the open guard. As you are drilling this, pause here and play around with the position for a minute. See how much control you have, notice what options are available for attacking, and get comfortable by figuring out where you go to attack from this position should be.
Say for whatever reason you get to this point and perhaps the way your partner is positioned is making it hard for you to pull off the attack you want so you want to switch sides. To do so, first relieve some of the pressure you have on your opponent’s bicep. As you go this, your body should start to swing slightly back towards the middle, opening up some space on your other side.
You need to put your other leg in your opponent’s biceps before you worry about trying to remove the first one. Not doing this or doing it too quickly could result in losing that arm. As you get your other foot in the bicep, begin to extend that leg and start swinging your body in that direction. As you do that, you can use your original foot that was in the bicep to help push you and create that angle on the other side by stepping down on the bicep rather than pushing into it.
Once you have done this and everything is tight, you can begin to slide that original foot out of the bicep and replace it with the outward tension from your shin and knee instead. Now, you are in the exact same position as before, just on the other side. Perhaps now you have put all the pieces together in a way where you are in a better position to start attacking.
It may seem like a lot of steps as you are reading through this, but as you start to drill this transition you will notice how fluid it is. This switch is a great technique to drill back and forth. One of the most frustrating parts of Jiu Jitsu is setting something up and it being just a tad off so you can’t pull off the attack. Learn this versatile transition so if you get to the point in spider guard, you can make a quick adjustment to continue your attack.
About Rafael Lovato Jr
Rafael Lovato Jr is a 4th degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and former Bellator Middleweight World Champion. His martial arts career began in amateur boxing before discovering Jiu Jitsu at the age of 13. Lovato is a black belt under Carlos Machado, and is the second American after B.J. Penn to win the World Jiu Jitsu Championship at black belt.
He has an impressive 10-0 MMA record, and a long list of gold medals and other placements in the highest levels of Jiu Jitsu. Having been competing at the highest levels for over 20 years, Rafael’s technique is next level and his method of teaching does nothing short of setting his students up for success.
About Rafael’s Instructional
Rafael has devoted this instructional to timeless open guard fundamentals. Included you will find techniques such as multiple omoplata finishing options, hammer sweep, multiple cross collar options, x-choke, and so much more.
Rafael is one of the most respected figures in the Jiu Jitsu community. He has long since proven himself, and continues to show up at the highest of levels either as a competitor or a coach to top level guys. Expand your knowledge of the closed guard and add all of these top tier techniques to your arsenal, check out his instructional here!