OPEN GUARD VS CLOSED GUARD BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly dynamic form of combat, which uses elements of strategy, and technical efficiency to win a competitive match. The art has always been compared to the revolutionary game of chess, as each competitor will need to make strategic maneuvers in order to bait, and trap their opponents into making the wrong move. Strength and athleticism will not necessarily win an athlete a competition match in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, instead they will need speed, and technique, as well as many other attributes like strength, agility, flexibility, and intelligence. A huge factor in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the decision making process, and this means that an athlete has to make the right choice in the right moment, and this can be a lot of pressure on an athlete, because there are many moments that will come and go in the blink of an eye.
What this article covers:
- What Is an Open Guard
- What Is a Closed Guard
- The Pros and Cons of The Closed Guard
- The Pros and Cons of The Open Guard
Choosing what game style to play is not as simple as picking the guard, or choosing to be a guard passer. There are many factors that go into these kinds of decisions, like who an athlete is fighting, what type of match they are fighting, whether they are fighting in the Gi or fighting in the No Gi division, and how they actually feel on the day. All of these factors must be considered if an athlete is going to be successful on the mats.
There are many different guards that an athlete can choose from, with the likes of the bjj spider guard, the x guard, the de la riva guard, the lasso guard, the 50/50 guard, and the coyote guard bjj system. Playing different guards at different times is what can make, and break an athlete. They can choose to be really open and attacking, or they can choose to be extremely defensive, either way making the best decisions will come with a greater range of knowledge.
WHAT IS AN OPEN GUARD
The bjj open guard is an extremely attacking form of guard, which will allow an athlete to have significant freedom in how they attack their opponents. Being open means that an athlete will simply be waiting for their opponent to engage in the pass, as they are commonly sitting there with their legs out in a checking kind of position, while their hands are managing the distance in between them and their opponent. An open guard may have some form of connection like the feet in the hips, or a simple collar or a wrist grip. The open guard is one of the main choices that an athlete will use, and this is due to a broader range of technical movements. The definition of an open guard means that an athlete will have no part of their opponent trapped into a definitive locking mechanism. Using an open guard is all about action, and reaction, as the athlete will strike first, or use their defensive countermeasures.
WHAT IS A CLOSED GUARD
The bjj closed guard is the most traditional of the guards, apart from the bjj half guard. For a long time the Brazilian art has utilised the structures of the closed guard. This system can be a defensive one, or it can be an offensive one, as both aspects are extremely important. To secure a closed guard an athlete will use their legs as a control around the abdomen of their opponent.
A guard can be seated, or it can be secured from a standing position. It is important for an athlete to break down the posture of their opponent, or at least have some form of definitive grips like a collar and a sleeve grip, or a necktie and a wrist grip. The closed guard offers athletes a functional way of attacking their opponents, while still being able to stay defensive enough to protect themselves from opponents who can apply significant amounts of pressure.
THE PROS AND CONS OF THE CLOSED GUARD
The closed guard is a highly functional form of guard that has a multitude of sweeping, and submission mechanisms. From the closed guard an athlete has a much safer position to attack from, while still maintaining a definitive blocking system. Connection is fundamentally important in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and the closed guard will give an athlete a much easier method of staying in touch with a ferocious top game player. From the closed guard an athlete has a greater ability to reach many different sweeps, and submissions without ever opening their guard, submissions like the kimura, the guillotine, the head and arm choke, the ezekiel, the cross collar choke, the bicep slicer, the calf slicer and many many more. It is a lot easier to break an opponent's posture down while utilising a closed guard, and it is proven that trying to break open a closed guard is one of the toughest assignments in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
There are some disadvantages to utilising a closed guard like a top game player can use pressure, and trap the guard player in a bad position. Getting heavily stacked by an opponent can be brutal on the neck, and this can be a definitive factor while playing the closed guard position. Playing closed guard can also leave an athlete in some deep trouble if it was during a self defense application. On the streets during a real life altercation, athletes are susceptible to weapon attacks, as well as being picked up and slammed into the concrete, or into an object. The bjj full guard can also be troublesome in Mixed Martial Arts, as an opponent will be able to apply significant pressure, and throw punches and elbows at an athlete's head. Guard players also run the risk of putting out a boring fight if their opponent is stifled in the guard, and there is no real exciting action.
THE PROS AND CONS OF THE OPEN GUARD
There are many benefits to playing the open guard position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The open guard will force an athlete to use a much more creative brand of submission grappling, and will keep their guard passing defense extremely sharp. Using an open guard will allow an athlete to explore many concepts, which can help them to ultimately create innovative new techniques. The open guard is extremely beneficial to an athlete, because it allows an athlete to use transitional components, and also switch between a multitude of different guards like the bjj z guard, the de la riva guard, the x guard, the reverse de la riva guard, the worm guard, and the bjj inverted guard. Utilising the open guard is extremely good for keeping distance away from an opponent that may be attempting to use strikes. It is also beneficial for other types of submissions like the arm bar, the omoplata, the triangle, and many different leg lock submissions like the heel hook, the knee bar, the ankle lock, and the toe hold.
There are some unfortunate cons about using a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu open guard. When it comes to passing the guard, the open guard is one of the easiest to pass. This is only because there are no definitive control measures in place, so an opponent is free to move their hips, and their knees without fear of having themselves being restrained. Because the open guard lacks connection it is extremely hard to feel what their opponent is trying to do, and this means that an athlete may be unable to stop a transition, or a positional control. The open guard means that their opponent might be able to launch a series of submission attacks, which from the bottom position may be extremely daunting.
OPEN GUARD SUBMISSIONS
Achieving submissions from the open guard has a lot more creativity involved, as an athlete is free to apply any type of choke hold, or joint lock that they can create. The arm bar is one of the most fundamental submissions in the whole Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game style. Athletes are free to set traps from their open guard, as they have a higher range of motion to effectively access the arm lock. The heel hook has become one of the fiercest submissions in the game, as there are multiple entries from multiple angles with the open guard. Athletes can utilise inversion techniques, as a way of accessing, and isolating limbs that are sometimes hard to reach. There are other leg locks like the knee bar, the toe hold, and the ankle lock that all have merit when it comes from the open guard.
There is also an extensive range of Gi chokes available from the open guard. Utilising this guard will allow athletes to execute moving submissions like the flying arm bar, the flying triangle, the rolling knee bar, and the diving kimura. Having the freedom to attack submissions from the open guard will also allow the athlete to switch over into any guards that can complement an athlete's game plan. This may mean using an open guard to initiate a butterfly sweep, before switching into an x guard, and sweeping the opponent into a submission like a triangle choke. There is a lot of upside with the open guard, as it can be extremely beneficial to an attacking athlete.
CLOSED GUARD SUBMISSIONS
The closed guard is the most traditional, and systematic process in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game style. There are multiple choke holds, and joint locks that can be achieved from the full guard. Submissions like kimuras, arm bars, triangles, calf slicers, guillotines, cross collar chokes, and omoplatas are all easily accessible from the confines of the closed guard. Using this defensive guard can be extremely effective because an athlete can protect themself, and still be on the hunt for submissions. It is a classic example of defense breeds offense, and the closed guard has it all covered. Taking the back is also accessible from the full guard, which can lead to a range of different chokes like the rear naked choke, the military choke, and the bow and arrow.
The closed guard has other systems that are extremely comprehensive like the bjj rubber guard, which is an intricate system of tricks, traps, controls, and submissions. Eddie Bravo's outlandish guard systems have become iconic in the world of combat sports, as many submission maneuvers are available from this guard. The rubber guard uses some seriously good transitions which lead to modified versions of the guillotine, the triangle, the arm bar, the omoplata, and even the gogoplata. Even though closed guard systems are defensive in their nature, they are still extremely offensive.
WHICH GUARD IS BETTER
It is extremely hard to gauge which guard is better than the other. As seen above there are many different pros and cons with each style of guard. The closed guard has an extremely substantial control system, which can leave an athlete feeling safe and out of danger of submissions, or sweeps. The closed guard also has an extensive range of submission maneuvers, and can easily transition into a back control with a simple under hook. The open guard may have a larger range of accessible techniques, but has the added disadvantage of being susceptible to a skilful pressure passer. Although the open guard has more variations of the guard that can be accessed like the whole range of leg locking positions like the ashi garami, the inside sankaku, and the leg knot.
There is no clear standout winner between the closed guard, and the open guard, as they both have extremely great aspects, as well as problems. The closed guard would have to just edge out the open guard, and this is because there seems to be just as much offense as the open guard, only the closed guard has more safety measures in place. This will ultimately lead to being submitted less using the closed guard, as opposed to being submitted more using the open guard. Both systems of guards are extremely important, and all students of the art need to become comprehensively good at open, and closed guard systems.
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