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Opening the Closed Guard Without The Gi
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Opening the Closed Guard Without The Gi

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Of all the differences seen between gi Jiu Jitsu and no-gi Jiu Jitsu, it think you’ll notice they are most different from the closed guard. Defending against the closed guard in the gi is easier because you can use grips to your advantage and the grips will help you break the opponent’s lock around your body. Without the gi, there are no grips, and opening the closed guard is no easy task.

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When you are a white belt, your usually taught to open the closed guard by pushing the knee down from a seated position. As you proceed through the ranks, though, you’ll realize that opening the closed guard while on your knees is impossible against skilled opponents. The reason this is so is because the guard player can more effectively use their legs against you.

 In the last few years I’ve been training, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to open the closed guard when training no-gi is by standing up. Easier said than done, though. I think the most difficult part of standing guard breaks is actually standing up. Fortunately, I have learned a full-proof way to make standing easy. All you have to do is block the arms of the guard player, bring your head over theirs, and jump up to your feet.

There are other methods of standing guard breaks which can be used, some which are more secure, yet difficult, others being easy and risky. I would say that just jumping up as I mentioned above is risky because if you don’t know how to defend the double ankle sweep or hook sweep, it will fail and you will end up on the bottom.

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A safer form of standing guard breaks is a technique called the logsplitter. Although you may not realize from the name, the logsplitter guard break is a rough but effective way for forcing your opponents to open their guard. In the following video, Australian Jiu Jitsu black belt and Absolute MMA instructor Lachlan Giles shows us how to use the logsplitter to open the closed guard and end up in a position to pass from.

If you notice what the first part of this technique, Lachlan explains something I mentioned above, which is blocking the arms. This is important to do because the guard player needs their hands to break down your posture and/or attack you with sweeps and submissions.

Blocking the arms can be done in multiple ways. My personal favorite is using V-grips with the thumbs up and placing them in the armpits. Another way others like to do is just cupping the biceps. I think using the V-grips in the armpits works better because it is better at keeping the defender’s back glued to the ground.

When doing this technique, Lachlan talks about trying to get the guard player to lock their guard closer towards his shoulders. This may seem counterintuitive because a higher guard makes attacks like triangle chokes, arm bars, and omoplatas easier to attack. However, this is mitigated by two things, blocking the arms, and keeping the elbows placed on the hips and pointing outwards.

The reason Lachlan does this is because he needs to create distance between his hips and the guard player’s hips, which again, may seem counterintuitive. If you don’t do this, though, the it will be difficult to fit your knees in the small space between their legs.

In the next video, Lachlan shows a different method to break the closed guard by standing. This is different than the rest in the sense that you don’t have to come back to the ground to break the lock. See below:

This is probably one of the more commonly used standing guard breaks I have seen. There is two things you need to worry about when doing this guard break. The first is not getting caught in a triangle choke, and this is easy to avoid but also easy to get caught in.

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The way to prevent this is absolutely never put the hand pushing the knee under the guard player’s. You also have to worry about being swept by a number of different methods, and again, this is easily mitigated by ensuring that your far leg does not get hooked by the foot or hand.

I hope you enjoyed these super effective guard breaks by Lachlan Giles, who is a great instructor that doesn’t teach techniques that don’t work. Also, I wanted to leave you with a tip I tell all new students. Don’t think of the closed guard as a position you pass from, but a position you have to defend and escape.


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