PULLING GUARD BJJ
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there are two main dynamics when it comes to a competitive match. The first is the top game element, where athletes will execute takedown maneuvers, before using pressure to pass the guard, and dominate their opponent with positional control. The second dynamic is the guard, as an athlete can choose a variety of different ways to pull guard on their opponents. The more traditional athlete will use a comprehensive bjj closed guard, where they will use more definitive ways to stifle a guard passer from achieving their objective. The modern day grappler will use a range of more intricate guard systems like the de la riva guard, the single leg x guard, the saddle guard, and the lapel guard bjj system.
What this article covers:
- How to Pull Guard
- Is It Better to Be a Guard Puller or a Top Game Player
- Sweeps from The Guard Pull
- Submissions from The Guard Pull
- How to Stifle a Guard Pull
There are many different ways to pull guard, and an athlete will need to tread carefully so they don't wind up losing control, or losing takedown points. Some athletes will choose to make contact and then just lower themselves into a seated guard, and this is so they can access the leg entanglement bjj game. Other athletes will try inversion techniques to sneak into intricate guard positions, while the more traditional athletes will utilise a bjj half guard, or a full guard by either setting up a technical guard pull, or jumping guard. There is an art form to pulling guard, as an athlete will need to act cautiously so they do not land in a position where their opponent can easily gain control, and pass their guard.
HOW TO PULL GUARD
There are many different ways to pull guard on an opponent, with the modern athlete choosing more often to sit straight into a seated guard. In order for this guard pull to be legal they must make some form of contact with their opponent, as they play the seated guard. Using this type of guard has proven to be highly successful in the No Gi professional grappling circuit. Athletes of today will access technical guards like the 50/50 guard, the worm guard, and the bjj inverted guard. These types of highly efficient guard systems are extremely beneficial to an athlete, as they can look to execute many leg lock techniques like the heel hook, the toe hold, the knee bar, the ankle lock, and the calf slicer. Nowadays many world class athletes like Felipe Pena, Gordon Ryan, Craig Jones, and Kaynan Duarte are using devastating leg lock submissions to win their matches in record times.
One of the most traditional guard pulls in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is when an athlete will set up the movement by securing three points of contact. Quite often what can happen is an athlete will utilise a sleeve, and collar grip, and commonly push the wrong foot into the hip making it easy for their opponent to stifle the guard pull, score takedown points, or even pass the guard. The correct grip is to take a sleeve grip under the elbow, and a collar grip with the other hand. The most important part of this technique is for an athlete to push their foot into the hip on the same side that they are holding the elbow grip. This is because it becomes much harder for their opponent to grab hold of the leg, in order to affect any type of guard pass. Effectively what an athlete is doing is pulling the bjj open guard, as they secure the three points of contact, before sitting back into a seated guard position with one foot in the hip. From here they are free to either close their guard fully, or begin their attacking systems they know within the open guard parameters.
There are other ways to access the guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu like the jumping guard pull. This can be an extremely dangerous technique for both the attacker, and the defender. The attacker can end up landing heavily on their back, or their neck, which can cause significant injury. The defender is probably in more danger, as an athlete that jumps guard can wind up hyperextending their opponent's knees if they use too much forward momentum. In some competitions jumping guard is illegal, but for the ones that do allow this technique it can look quite smooth when it is done properly. Again this technique is basically using the three points of contact rule, as the athlete will set up a sleeve, and collar grip, with the third point of contact being the jump into the abdomen of their opponent. It is important to jump, and pull backwards landing in the seated position, and commonly scooping for a leg straight away is a good way to stop an opponent from keeping their standing position, and affecting an easy pass.
IS IT BETTER TO BE A GUARD PULLER OR A TOP GAME PLAYER
There is no right answer to this question, as an athlete will need to write their own destiny in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Firstly an athlete should weigh up a few different variables, and the number one is which aspect of the game suits their game style. Some athletes have a greater ability to utilise guard systems like the lasso guard, or the bjj spider guard. While other athletes will have a game style that is more suited to passing the guard, and applying heavy pressure onto their opponent. Although having one specific component that suits the athlete may be well and good, it is highly important to be an all rounder, meaning that both aspects of Jiu Jitsu are just as important as each other. BJJ is a transitional combat sport, and athletes will need skill sets in both passing the guard, and utilising guard systems. All athletes will learn these fundamentals, including all of the control positions, so it pays to become systematic with all technical components of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
There are pros and cons to each aspect of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and athletes will need to make sure that they have no weaknesses. It is all good to have considerable strengths, but during a competitive match an opponent will undoubtedly expose any weakness. Becoming predominantly a guard player can have an adverse effect on an athlete, because when they are faced with heavier, and stronger opponents it will become significantly harder to break their posture, move their base, stop their pass, or even finish a submission. Even guard players need to have top game skill sets, so they can use their own pressure to wear down their opponent, and have some recuperation from overloading their joints, and tendons. The same goes for a top game player, because if they have no skills in the guard, then if they get swept from the top position they will be unable to gain back any positional advantage, which will ultimately lead to losing the fight. All athletes need to be technically proficient in all aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, especially if they want to achieve success, and stay away from unwanted injuries.
SWEEPS FROM THE GUARD PULL
A good technique to use from the standing position is a guard pull to tripod sweep. The first step is to set up the guard pull by grabbing the same side lapel, flicking it open, and reaching in for a cross collar grip. Their same side arm will now grab hold of the sleeve, as the same side foot pushes into the hip of their opponent, creating tension in between the attacker, and the defender. From here the athlete should be active on their other foot, and may even need to hop a few times before bending at the knee, and sitting onto their hip. As the athlete sits they will create a rotational style of tension within the guard pull. The next step is to thread their other foot straight into a butterfly hook behind the knee, before switching the wrist grip to their other hand. The athlete would then continue to push on their opponent's hip, while pulling in with their other foot behind the back of their knee, and this will force their opponent to the mat. To move into a control position the athlete will continue to pressure their foot into the hip, while planting their other foot off of the mat, as they begin to lift their hip up into the air. Finally they can release their foot from the hip shooting it all the way backwards just like a technical stand up, before charging back in, and looking at knee slicing straight through their opponents bottom leg, and into a dominant side control position.
Another effective sweep from a guard pull is the pendulum sweep, right off the back of a jumping guard pull. To execute this technique an athlete needs to set up the jumping guard in a correct way to execute the pendulum. What they can do is take hold of a collar grip, or a necktie position, and look to secure an over hook on one of their arms. From this position they will jump into the guard, letting go of the neck or the collar grip, and as they land on the mats dive their arm underneath the thigh of their opponent. As the athlete lands with an over hook and an under hook on the leg, they will use the momentum of the guard pull to roll straight over, sucking the over hook in, and pushing the leg up. This will create the pendulum sweep, where the athlete will roll straight into a full mount position. Not only is this a highly dynamic movement, it will also score well in IBJJF competition.
SUBMISSIONS FROM THE GUARD PULL
Setting up guard pulls can be an extremely advantageous way to achieve submission finishes. One of the most common submissions executed off of the traditional guard pull is the arm bar. As the athlete will secure three points of contact, they will then use the tension in their leg to sit on their hip in a rotational angle. As the athlete lands on the mat they will look to switch their grips to the opposite arm, as they spin and thread their other leg in front of the face, exposing the arm. From here it is a matter of extending their hips, and hyperextending the elbow joint. This can be an extremely successful submission, and will most often catch an opponent off guard. Utilising arm bars is one of the most successful submission maneuvers in BJJ, and is in the top three most successful finishes at the world class level.
Using guard pulling techniques can be beneficial to an athlete, as quite often a competitive match can be wasteful on the feet. Two competitors will often battle for grips to no avail, as the fight can force a referee to give out penalty points for stalling. Using a guard pull is a good way of getting the fight to the mats without depleting too much energy. Once an athlete decides to execute a guard pull they have a wide variety of submissions they can go for. There are many submissions that roll on straight out of a guard pull like triangles, kimuras, guillotines, omoplatas, and various forms of armbars. There are also many Gi chokes that can be utilised, as opponents will commonly pull guard, and switch into other attacking guards like the x guard, the reverse de la riva guard, and the lasso guard, as this may be a successful way to achieve submission finishes.
HOW TO STIFLE A GUARD PULL
There are many subtle hints that can give away whether an opponent wants to pull guard or not. Commonly if an opponent is lowered toward the mat with their but sticking out, it is probably because they are guarding the take down, and are thinking about dropping in for a guard pull. Most guard pullers won't just drop into a seated position, without first making some form of contact with their opponent. One of the first defenses in stifling a guard pull is as soon as an opponent attempts to secure grips, the athlete should fight these grips and dominate their own grips. If an opponent cannot secure a grip, then it becomes extremely hard for them to pull any sort of effective guard. The second defense mechanism for athletes is to block the leg, because a student will know that if their opponent manages to secure a wrist, and a collar grip then obviously a third point of contact is needed. This means the athlete should be well aware, and ready for the foot coming inwards. Blocking the knee is vital, and can dictate how the guard pull will eventuate. As the opponent sets into the guard, the athlete will have already blocked the knee, and can use this as a way to pass their guard.
Athletes should be honing their skills in footwork from the standing position, as this is the only way to outmaneuver their opponent. Obviously grip fighting is the key to stifling the guard pull, but in the case where the athlete loses the grip battle, as long as they keep their base staggered it can be extremely hard to effectively pull guard. Utilising a combat base from inside an opponent's attempted guard, will make life extremely difficult for a guard puller. The same concepts are applied to an athlete that tries to jump guard. Commonly they will set up grips, and attempt to jump, wrapping their legs around their opponents abdomen. It is important for the athlete to take a collar grip, and a grip in the hips, which can also be a belt grip. As the opponent jumps guard, the athlete can use these frames to push their opponent into the mat, creating enough space so they can begin the process of passing the guard. Learning how to stifle a guard puller can be a crucial element in achieving a successful guard pass, and is commonly one of the most important aspects in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
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