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Master This Guard Retention Skill First With John Danaher
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Master This Guard Retention Skill First With John Danaher

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Guard retention could be the absolute most important skill in all of BJJ. Of course, opinions may vary, but you can’t deny the need for solid guard retention on your game. The guard is wall between ourselves and our opponents and if its penetrated, things can go downhill quite quickly. A good understanding of guard retention can lead to more success in all areas of our game and it also helps us to understand a very large amount of fundamental BJJ movements. Contained within in guard retention skills are foundational gems that transcend all positions.

Keeping a good passer at bay can be very beneficial in a BJJ match. Passing gets tiring and if we use good mechanics and efficient movement to keep the top player at a distance this begins to take a mental toll as well. As physical and mental exhaustion ensue, we can begin to implement our game plan with a more fatigued opponent on the other end of our guard. This simple idea is just one of the many reasons to understand guard retention as a system. The benefits are far reaching and its really not an option to ignore these skills. Retention of the guard must be continually fostered throughout your training.

Take another instance for example. In a self-defense scenario, the guard is paramount to keeping yourself from incurring too much damage. Now, we’re not just speaking in terms of guard passing. If someone is furiously attempting to get close to your face in order to inflict injury, retaining the guard becomes an even greater necessity. An assailant may not know a jiu-jitsu guard pass but they do know that they’d like to close the gap between the two of you, and managing distance will become more important here than ever. 

Of course, there are many layers to retaining the guard. The guard comes in many forms. But there are strict principles that can always be used as guide stones. Quite simply, the idea of guard retention is to always keep your knees and feet in between yourself and an opponent. I give this broad generalization to new students, as it creates an idea in their head of what must be done before they begin learning all of the proper ways to do so. Once a passer can get past the different layers of guard and begin to get close to you, this where things unravel. Distance management and constantly finding methods of realigning ourselves with a passer will help to keep them at a safe distance and our guard intact. 

John Danaher will be our instructor today and he will share with us the very first and foremost skill needed on our quest for better guard retention, the scoot. Scooting has become the subject of humor and even parody’s in BJJ. And when over used, or used improperly, it’s easy to see why. But make no mistake, this undeniably important skill is a necessity to your guard retention endeavors. In fact, Danaher chooses this movement as the very first skill you should become familiar with in your quest for better guard retention. 

It’s no secret that Danaher has been instrumental in the growth of one of the most successful BJJ teams of our time and his guard retention systems have had a hand in creating some of the most dangerous guards in the sport. Danaher’s instruction is beyond applicable and every time I watch a segment, I’m always treated to several of those light bulb moments. “Why don’t I do that?” This is a beautiful thing and I welcome it, as I’m sure you all do as well! Let’s take a look at this important piece of instruction and learn how to perform the scoot properly, so that it serves us when we need it. Check this out! 

 

Danaher explains straightaway that there are three different postures of the guard, seated, supine, and the turtle also plays a role. There is a myriad of movements associated with each of these positions. These movements will make up the framework for your retention. 

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From a seated position, the first method of movement is the scoot. AS Danaher explains, the scoot is no more than the seated version of what we know as the shrimp. From a seated position, Danaher starts in perfect alignment with the passer. As the top man begins to circle to an angle, this is where Danaher must begin to react. As the upper body alignment diminishes, Danaher places a hand on the floor, rotates his upper body to again align with his partners, and uses a scooting movement to create distance. At this juncture the two bodies are now aligned and Danaher can begin to reengage. 

This action can be performed like a drill, working side to side to get the feel for the movement. Notice how Danaher is moving his hips back, not circling to meet his partner. We cannot keep up with a standing passer that wants to run around us by simply turning in a circle. This is a race we will always lose. Instead we must create distance and this is what Danaher is accomplishing here. As his partner moves to an angle and begins to close the gap between them, Danaher creates space and this gives him the ability to stay in the game. 

Danaher advises that this movement can be practices solo or with a partner. He demonstrates how we can simply work our way down the mat using the mechanics of the movement and alternating side to side. 

Of course, this is only one layer of guard retention, but it is quite obviously an important one. If we hope to develop a dangerous guard game, retention will be the first skill that we need to master. This scoot is art of a vast network of movements and skills that form the foundation of this skillset and it deserves your attention!

Guard Retention: BJJ Fundamentals - Go Further Faster by John Danaher
IF you are beginning your Jiu-Jitsu Journey NOW is the perfect time to  learn from one of the LEADING minds in Jiu-Jitsu. The Go Further Faster Series by John Danaher is designed to shorten the learning curve required to become proficient. Take the first step in ENHANCING your Jiu-Jitsu forever!

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