OPEN GUARD BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a Martial Art that is all about strategy, and out manoeuvering an opponent. It is often taught that technique beats strength, but the reality of BJJ is that the art involves a combination of speed, strength, technique, and intelligence to become successful on the mats. There are different aspects to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game style, as all fights begin on the feet where two combatants will use footwork, and battle for grips, as each athlete attempts to take each other down to the mat. Once the fight has reached the mat it becomes a battle of transitions to see who can take the dominant control position. In a competition match the only way to win is by points, or by securing a submission finish.
What this article covers:
During a battle of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu one athlete will usually aim to take the top position, as they look to pass their opponents guard, and settle into control positions. The other athlete will play the guard game, where they will access a variety of different sweeps, and submission attacks from the seated position. There are many different types of guards like the x-guard, the open guard, the de la riva guard, the lasso guard, plus many more. What is most commonly utilised by a guard player at the beginning is the bjj closed guard. Using this type of guard is a great defensive weapon, and can halt a passing opponent dead in their tracks. What makes the closed guard really great is that a guard player can switch between an array of different guard positions like the knee shield, the open guard, or something more intricate like the bjj spider guard.
WHAT IS THE BJJ OPEN GUARD
The open guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most attacking guards there is in the combat system. Unlike the more defensive guards like the closed guard, or the jiu jitsu half guard, the open guard uses a much more offensive brand. The definition of an open guard is exactly how it sounds, as the guard player does not have any part of their opponent locked into a definitive mechanism.
Playing the open guard is a much more reactive guard, as an athlete will be seated with all four of their limbs waiting, and ready to weave into different defensive, and offensive positions. Quite often an open guard will have points of contact, which are usually feet in the hips, or contact with the knees of their opponent, while their hands are in framing positions, or utilising some form of grip on the sleeves of their opponent. The open guard is almost a countermeasure to a passing opponent, as the guard player will often use anticipation, and attacking movements to switch in and out of different guard positions. The open guard is usually executed by higher level students, which usually range from the blue belt, and above. Most novice students are still learning the ropes, which is why they will stick to more defensive guards, or risk having their open guards passed by more experienced practitioners.
HOW TO USE THE OPEN GUARD
There are many different ways to use an open guard successfully in training, or competition matches. It is always a good idea to feel out an opponent, and place their limbs in good spots just to see how their opponent will attack. Using a good open guard will mean that students have to be smart, and anticipate how their opponent is intending to pass their guard. If the guard player is too slow they may wind up getting passed really quickly, and struggling to escape from control positions. It is always a good idea to have contact with a passing opponent, like having some form of their shin across the body of their opponent, or a foot in their hip. This can even be a foot on the mat that is in contact with their knee, while their other knee is across the hip of their opponent, while maintaining grips on the collar, and/or the sleeve. There are many different combinations that a student can utilise to attack their opponent from the open guard, but above all else they need to make sure that they will not have their guard passed.
Using a good open guard means the guard player is ready for anything that comes their way. This means that they should be ready to switch into different attacking positions, as they discover what their opponent intends to use to pass their guard. A guard passer may use methods like knee cutting, or knee slicing, backstepping, or cartwheeling, or some of them may even just use flat out pressure to grind their way through a guard. Students need to be aware of all of these types of aspects, and have contingency plans in place so they can match the ferocity of their opponent. Depending on the skill level, size, and strength of their opponent, the student should be able to use the right components to keep their opponent unbalanced enough to sweep, or submit. A guard player can use lapel wraps, and lasso guards in the Gi, or in the No Gi divisions they can switch into positions like the 50/50 guard, the single leg x guard, or the bjj z guard. Many of these guards can offer a student a comprehensive attack plan, which can ultimately secure them the tap.
TRANSITIONS FROM THE OPEN GUARD
There are many ways to transition from an open guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In the more traditional version of Jiu Jitsu, an open guard would give an athlete a pathway towards simple arm bar, or kimura attacks, and even in the modern day of grappling these are still formidable weapons for an athlete. Nowadays transitioning out of an open guard can involve a much more detailed series of movements. Athletes will use bjj inverting to access different attacks like taking the back, latching onto arm bars from awkward positions, and especially for diving into the leg entanglement bjj game. For a guard player to use a closed guard, and then try to access certain transitions, this can be extremely difficult, as they are often forced to open their guard in order to attack. This is why using an open guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the best tools an athlete can use, so they can easily apply technical movements. This is how a guard player can out think, and out move their opponents.
SWEEPS FROM THE OPEN GUARD
Setting up sweeps from the open guard has an extremely high success rate. Students are not restrained by any locking mechanism of a guard, as they are free to execute any of their techniques they have in their arsenal. A good sweep to execute from the open guard that works for beginners, and advanced students, is the scissor sweep, and this is an easily utilised movement in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. From the open guard position a student needs to grab a collar, and a sleeve grip, or in No Gi a necktie, and a wrist grip, as they bring their knee that is on the same side as their head grip, up into the sternum of their opponent. From here they will drop their other leg to the mat, and lift their opponents weight up over their abdomen. Finally they will use their leg on the mat to trap, and kick inwards, as their knee uses a scissor action kicking their opponent over onto their back. From this position it is a smart move to follow the movement, and either secure the mount position, or a side control position.
The open guard has many different sweep variations, and another good sweep from the open guard is a basic hook sweep. This sweep can be utilised when a student secures the bjj butterfly guard. This involves students putting both of their feet on the inside of their opponents groin, using their feet as hooks. From here the student will either secure an over hook on one arm, and the under hook on the other, or two over hooks, or two under hooks. The student can also secure simple collar grips, or grab any part of the Gi like the back of the belt, in order to manipulate their opponent's weight, and begin to move to execute the sweep. However it is important to at least secure one over hook so that the opponent cannot post on that hand. Then the student can use their hook to sweep their opponent in that same direction. A great aspect about this sweep is that if it is done fast, and correct, the student can access a range of leg lock submissions.
SUBMISSIONS FROM THE OPEN GUARD
Setting up submissions from the open guard gives a student a lot of freedom for them to access a diverse range of joint locks, and choke holds. One of the most iconic submissions to use in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the arm bar, and from the open guard position there are a multitude of different ways to attack this submission. A common attack pattern is for a student to use sneaky traps in order to trick their opponent into putting their arm into a vulnerable position. This will commonly happen as an opponent pushes their arm down into the chest of a student, where it is met with a transition into the arm bar. Arm bars can be secured in both the Gi, and the No Gi disciplines, and they can also be accessed before, and after many other submission attacks. The arm bar will go part and parcel with the triangle, as it will commonly be secured when the student has their opponent locked into a triangle. The triangle, and the arm bar are extremely versatile submissions that can be accessed from the open guard, as many world class athletes use these two submissions for an extremely high success rate.
Using an open guard is the perfect way to have enough freedom to switch into more trickier guards like the worm guard, the 50/50 guard, or the bjj donkey guard. Showcasing a good open guard is the platform for more advanced movements like the berimbolo. Utilising these new age innovative methods of attack enhances a student's ability to access the leg lock game. Students can access a range of different submissions like the knee bar, the toe hold, the ankle lock, the heel hook, and the calf slicer. Using leg locks has become an extremely popular weapon of choice by many athletes in the modern game of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The intricate positions of the leg entanglement game has gone from strength to strength, as many world class athletes have added significant developments into the attack, and the defense of this position. Utilising leg lock submissions against a guard passer has become like kryptonite to a kryptonian, as these high level submissions are easily accessed from the open guard.
HOW TO PASS AN OPEN GUARD
There are many different ways to pass an open guard. The biggest aspect to remember is to identify what controls the guard player is trying to use. Sometimes a guard player will just casually sit without using any definitive control, which can be great for an athlete attempting to pass the guard. A good open guard player will have strong, and flexible legs that are able to frame away from their opponent, or invert and easily scramble back into the guard position. Trying to pass an open guard expert is one of the hardest aspects in passing the guard. A student should look to control the legs of their opponent if they have a chance at getting past the guard. Using smash passes, weave passes, or toreando passes are all successful ways of getting past the open guard. To become successful and get past an open guard a student must take the power out of their opponents legs.
There are many different ways to take away an opponent's strength in their legs like weaving the legs together, and applying pressure to their thighs, which will inhibit a guard player from accessing these positions. Students can look to latch onto an ankle, as if they were attempting for an ankle lock, before directing the other foot in behind the secured ankle, and looking to use an origami pass. This will allow the student to use their hips to slide right past the knee, using pressure to control their opponent. Students need to have a good squatting position so they can be hard to sweep, and this will help them to instigate a knee slice, or a knee cutting guard pass. Having a strong tactical base will give a student the ability to cut down the centre line of their opponent, which should in theory dissect the open guard. Another good method is to grab hold of the ankles, and be dynamic by using stacking pressure to try and upset the balance of the guard player. This may not always work, as a good guard player is great at inversion, but all this means is that the passing student needs to be fast, and to stay ahead of them in the transition. Either way there are a multitude of different ways to pass an open guard, and the bottom line is identifying which methods to use at the right time.
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