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One Technique To Sharpen Your Closed Guard

One Technique To Sharpen Your Closed Guard



Closed Guard chatter has been picking up if you’ve been listening. A lot of talk of the Jiu-Jitsu “Meta Game” gets thrown around after major events happen. Most recently was the IBJJF World Championships and the conversation is being had across the BJJ community. This is beneficial aspect to Jiu-Jitsu that will help gyms guide their curriculum towards the “Meta”. If you are unfamiliar with the term “Meta”, think of it as the standard of what’s currently working at the highest level.

The game seems to be going in the direction of utilizing some classical positions such as closed guard to nullify the elaborate passing schemes of today’s top guard passers. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but closed guard has definitely seen an uptick in use the last couple of years at the highest level. Even Gordon Ryan is a fan of the closed guard, rumor has it his next instructional is indeed focused around the closed guard.

So if you’ve been neglecting your closed guard you may ask, where is a good place to start. If you’ve spent considerable time in Jiu-Jitsu you surely have been stuck in someone’s closed guard. It can start to feel like quicksand, or how a moth must feel when it flies into a spider web. A good closed guard player is constantly controlling you with their grips, not to mention the squeeze of their legs controlling your hips at all times. Why this feels this way is because the guard player is creating tempo.

Tempo is when you are forcing your opponent to constantly react, or be on the defensive. A good closed guard player will immediately begin to gain grips, whether it be double sleeve, cross collar, or another type of control. Double sleeve can be a great place to start, as the guard passer will commonly have their hands on you to keep you from sitting up to control their head/posture. This can cause your opponent to re-grip and this often leads them to grabbing ahold of your sleeve. In the tutorial below Jake Mackenzie shows you how he likes to counter passer’s grip.

You might be thinking “A wrist lock is going to “sharpen” my closed guard?”. To which the answer is simply “Yes!”. By getting grips you create tempo. Tempo leads to reactions from your opponent. Their reaction is what we need to enter into a devastating attack, that if it lands the match is over, and if the opponent defends they are trapped in a top lock with vulnerable arms to attack with arm bars. Let’s break down how this all happens.

Ready to update your closed guard? Click Learn More!


Timing is everything

Pulling away from your opponent’s grip like you are trying to break free will likely lead them to resist. This is the trigger you need to develop sensitivity to because the old adage of ‘timing is everything’ applies here. When you feel them resist you must change direction to be able to take your opponent’s arm the direction needed. This is where the controlling mechanics comes in.

Aim for their thumb, get the top lock

Now that you have received the response you want, you need to aim for you opponent’s thumb with your gripped arm. Your free hand will reach over their elbow like it’s a traditional arm bar. Controlling their thumb will ensure the wrist is oriented in a way that is conducive for breaking.  Jake also makes note of how he shifts his hips out to better seize control of their elbow. Mackenzie then enters into a top lock position as if he were attempting an armbar.


To apply the actual submission Jake makes special note of not just pushing with your arms but using your torso to apply the wrist lock. This bending motion will also make their elbow locked into place which is essential if you are hoping to get the submission. As an added bonus he describes finishing with a shoulder lock if you partner has extra flexible wrists!

This tip can sharpen you closed guard because it creates a little tempo in your favor from a position that is making a huge comeback! Best of all if the wrist lock fails you  aren’t out of position so it makes it safe to attempt. You’ll be in familiar territory if you’ve been studying closed guard.

Speaking of closed guard, Jake Mackenzie is ready to update your Competition Closed Guard! As you witnessed in the above video, Mackenzie is a top tier instructor. On top of that he’s no stranger to the podium! Get caught up on a classic position that is HERE TO STAY!



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