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Never Get Your Guard Passed With Xande Ribeiro!
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Never Get Your Guard Passed With Xande Ribeiro!

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If we were to ask several grapplers what is the most important position, or skill set to have in Jiu Jitsu, we would obviously get a variety of responses.  Frame the question differently and ask, how important is it to have a good guard? I would bet unanimously everyone would agree that having a good guard game is not only ideal, but necessary to be successful in Jiu Jitsu.  To add to that, if we were to ask, what if you could have an unpassable guard by simply following a few simple steps, would you do it. Again unanimously any Jiu Jitsu practitioner is going to jump all over that and be excited to get stated.  

The ability to maintain your guard in Jiu Jitsu is imperative not only to a good Jiu Jitsu game, but also when applying Jiu Jitsu principles in mixed martial arts or in a self defense situation.  Being able to maintain a good guard means the ability to maintain distance from your opponent and control the fight. Whether the opponent is tied up in your closed guard or being managed by a spider or lasso guard matters not, the fact of the matter is that they can not attack you with strikes or submissions while having to deal with your guard. 

Xande Ribeiro has not had his guard passed in over 14 years in competition.  He attributes this success to something called the diamond method that we will be taking a look at to better understand and implement in our own games.  First, a few notes from Xande. Xande is “claustrophobic” and does not like to allow the opponent to get close to him. Managing distance is a high priority for him from the very beginning.  Posture plays a big part in his ability to manage distance and maintain the guard as well, which we will get into later.  

Xande starts by explaining the diamond method by using his hands and arms forming a triangle, aka the top of the diamond, and his legs forming a triangle that makes up the bottom of the triangle.  He uses the analogy of having a stomach ache. Curling his core in and connecting his elbows to his knees. As long as he is able to maintain this diamond, he is able to maintain a very strong defense and frames against his opponent making it very difficult for the opponent to gain inside control.  

Make your No-Gi Guard Retention UNSTOPPABLE with Alec Baulding! Click Learn More!

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Regardless of if it is full guard, half guard, or even mount, Xande utilizes this diamond method to prevent his opponent from getting chest to chest by keeping this diamond frame between him and his opponent.  While the opponent may get passed the bottom part of his diamond frame, his legs, he still works to maintain the top of the diamond with his arms and keeps the opponent from being able to really settle in. In doing this he is then able to create the space needed to shrimp and move his hips as needed to reestablish the guard.  

Xande shows several examples of how he has used the diamond method to prevent his guard from being passed, however the one I liked the most was his very basic method of stopping someone from passing a basic half guard.  In bottom half guard Xande makes the diamond with his hands, arms and legs and uses his top hand to get a 4 fingers in grip on the opponent’s lapel. He prefers the 4 fingers in grip over the thumb in grip because of the way it turns the bones in his arm into his opponent’s neck as they try to pressure in.  Using this grip will make the opponent think twice about wanting to pressure in as this grip is essentially half of a cross choke making it very uncomfortable for the opponent. Because this grip makes the opponent relieve some of the pressure, it creates space and opportunity for Xande to shrimp slightly if needed and bring his bottom leg out and regain full guard. 

Although this video is focused on guard retention, not everyone wants to leave a strong half guard position to get back to full guard, and that’s ok too.  This concept can be used to maintain distance when playing bottom half guard allowing you the time and space you need to shoot for your under hook, go to deep half, setup sweeps or submissions, whatever you want to do from here, as long as you are implementing the diamond method appropriately, you are safe and the opponent should not be able to break you down and flatten you out allowing them to begin passing your guard.  

While the diamond method is a great way to maintain your guard and can be used to help get you from one guard to the next, we know that there is always a solution to every problem in Jiu Jitsu.  As a sport that is constantly evolving with some of the most innovative and creative minds in the world dedicated to the continuous improvement of Jiu Jitsu nothing remains “unstoppable” or “perfect” for long. 

While you wait for Xande's instructional release, why not check out other MASTERS OF GUARD RETENTION. John Danaher's newest installment in the Go Further Faster Series  is dedicated to Guard Retention! 

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