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RAT GUARD BJJ
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RAT GUARD BJJ

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In the modern era of grappling The Brazilian art form has grown in leaps, and bounds, moving from one innovation to the next. Initially Brazilian Jiu Jitsu started off as a self defense system that the Gracie clan mastered, and began to dominate in Brazil throughout the nation's competition matches, and vale tudo match ups. Since the inception of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on the global scale, many innovations have taken place. What was once a simple bjj closed guard has now become a multitude of different guard systems like the squid guard, the worm guard, the 50/50 guard, the single leg x guard, the saddle guard, the lasso guard, the bjj inverted guard, and many more.

What this article covers:

Many of these guard systems are becoming extremely popular, and are highly functional in the modern day of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The rat guard is another one of those modern day systems that was created to stifle an opponent in a bjj full guard system. Using the sneaky rat guard system requires no athletic abilities, and can be utilised by athletes of all shapes, sizes, and skill levels. Furthermore the rat guard is not just highly functional for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it is also used and more specifically designed for Mixed Martial Arts, or Combat Jiu Jitsu. This is because the guard was designed to break an opponent's posture down, and trap them in a stifled guard.

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WHAT IS THE RAT GUARD

The rat guard is a highly functional closed guard system that needs no athletic abilities, nor does it take any physical exertion to execute. To secure this guard an athlete must first break down their opponent's posture, and they can do this by securing a necktie, and a tricep grip, as they use their knees to bump their opponent towards their chest.

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rat guard in bjj

Once an athlete has secured the posture of their opponent they will lock down their body with a traditional closed guard with their legs. From here they will swim their arm around their opponent's neck as if they were attempting a guillotine choke. Instead of wrapping their arm around the neck for the choke, the athlete will secure across the back of their opponent's shoulders gripping on the inside of their own hamstring, whilst their legs stay locked. This is the rat guard, as it will keep an opponent postured down with their head stuck firmly underneath the armpit of the athlete. To add further controls, the athlete can also hug their knee with their free arm once they have cleared their opponent's arm, like they would usually do with a bjj rubber guard system, as this will just make the controls even tighter. This can be quite a frustrating control for an opponent, as an athlete will then attempt to set up into sweeping movements, or submission maneuvers.

WHO CREATED THE RAT GUARD

The rat guard was created by Rene Dreifuss as a system that could be utilised in Combat Jiu Jitsu, Submission Grappling, or Mixed Martial Arts. Rene was inspired by Eddie Bravo's rubber guard system, and talks about how the rat guard can complement the rubber guard, and work in collaboration between the two guard systems. Rene is the founder, and head coach of radical MMA in New York City, where he trains many up and coming athletes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Mixed Martial Arts. Rene is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt promoted under Alex Chung from Gracie Barra. Rene has also had the pleasure of training under Rigan Machado, Marcelo Garcia, Lucas Lepri, and the Santos brothers. Rene is also a Judo black belt who studied under the famous Sensei Kanae Hirata, while living in Japan. Rene Is also a karate black belt who has an excellent reputation for coaching, and competing in combat sports.

Unfortunately due to a horrific car accident Rene's time in Japan was cut short, so he moved back to the United States of America where he continued his rehabilitation. Rene still had the passion for combat sports, and  the knowledge to combine all of his combat experience into Mixed Martial Arts practices, and self defense systems. Renee did suffer from many limitations due to his injuries, which is why he developed the rat guard system. This guard gives injured athletes, or athletes that have little flexibility an easier method to protect themselves against a passing opponent. The rat guard has gained significant notoriety through the Mixed Martial Arts platform, where a vast amount of these combat athletes utilise this guard as a way to stifle their opponent, while still being able to access strikes to the body.

EXECUTING SWEEPS FROM THE RAT GUARD

Utilising sweeps from the rat guard is extremely easy, and are commonly done as a reactional transition. Usually an opponent that is stuck in the rat guard will try to free themself from the position, which can lead to easier transitions for an athlete. One of the easiest sweeps to achieve from the rat guard is the hip bump sweep. When an athlete secures the rat guard position they are already in a position to simply reach over, and access a kimura grip, or the hip bump sweep grip, before using their hips to roll their opponent over with ease. This sweep is one of the most fundamental, and basic ones in the repertoire of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and with the accessibility from within the rat guard, this sweep becomes even more easy for beginner athletes, all the way through to the higher level practitioners.

A high level sweeping maneuver that can be achieved from the rat guard involves an athlete to use their butterfly hooks. It can always be a risk using butterfly hooks as a good passing opponent may find it easier to escape from the hooks rather than a closed guard. Once the athlete has secured the butterfly hooks they can use their arm that is holding their leg in the locking mechanism of the guard to thread underneath the shoulder of their opponent. With this control, they should be able to lift their opponent's arm high, and turn it towards the other side of their body, as they use their hook to sweep their opponent to the mat. This movement can turn into a reversed half nelson hold, which can be very unpleasant for an opponent.

EFFECTIVE SUBMISSIONS FROM THE RAT GUARD 

There is a vast range of effective submissions that can be accessed from the rat guard. Many of these submissions are highly reactional to what an opponent is doing. Because the rat guard has a similar functionality to the rubber guard, many of its transitions can move from one flow to the next. This is found by utilising a sweep function, before transitioning into a submission maneuver. From the rat guard the kimura submission is highly achievable, and all an athlete needs to do is secure a wrist grip, lock the up kimura grip, and extend their opponent's arm over their back, as they raise their leg to control their opponent's posture. If the opponent defends the kimura they can sit down, and wrap their arms straight around the neck into a guillotine choke, which will keep their opponent always guessing. Another transition from the kimura is when an opponent straightens their arm, and all an athlete needs to do is feed the wrist behind their neck, and slip straight into a back take, secure the seat belt control, and lock in a rear naked choke.

There are other submissions that can be achieved from the rat guard like an easy omoplata. Just like the kimura, the opponent’s head is trapped in the rat guard, and it is quite easy to change the angle of the athlete's hips, and swing their leg in front of their opponent's neck into an omoplata submission. Another good submission is a head and arm choke, and this is secured when the opponent swims their arm back in, as all the athlete has to do is move their arm over to the other side of their opponent's head, and lock in a head and arm choke. They can also switch to a bjj butterfly guard by securing at least one hook, and sweeping their opponent over to finish the head and arm choke. The rat guard system is highly effective, and is great for trapping an opponent into a series of submissions, but at the same time can also be important for striking an opponent in Mixed Martial Arts.

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TRANSITIONING FROM THE RAT TO OTHER GUARDS

The rat guard has a clever system of movements that can be troublesome to an opponent. What makes this system so dangerous is not the calibre of submissions maneuvers that can be achieved, it is the versatility of how easily an athlete can switch into other attacking guard systems. The rubber guard is always an option to switch to if the rat system begins to break down. Other guards like the williams guard, and the butterfly guard can also compliment the rat guard system. One of the best guards to switch to is the kimura control guard, and this is because of how easily an athlete can isolate an opponent's arm. Setting up for a kimura is a high percentage movement, and is highly attainable from the rat guard. Sometimes the rat guard can act as a stifling guard, as opposed to an attacking one, and this is especially true if an athlete's opponent is stronger, or heavier.

HOW TO PASS THE RAT GUARD

The rat guard system is an effective way to keep an opponent broken down. Trying to escape this position is not as easy as just sitting up, as the guard is reinforced, just like a rubber guard control. The one bonus about trying to defend the rat guard position is that an athlete's arms can link together, and build a frame in the abdomen of their opponent. To try and break this guard position the athlete can use pressure, and posture, by stepping up onto their toes, and applying pressure to their opponent's sternum. If they can use their arms as a frame at the same time, then they have a chance of popping open the closed guard, where they can back up to apply pressure to the leg pinning it to the mat. By this stage the opponent has most likely given up on the rat guard, as they attempt to stop the athlete's guard pass.

Another way to effectively pass the rat guard is when the opponent traps an athlete into the guard, they will use stacking pressure. What an athlete can do is use their free arm to secure a cross face on the opponent. This might take some creativity from an athlete, because an opponent with a solid rat guard will either have a wrist control, or they will have the arm cleared away from the danger of a cross face. The athlete will need to circle their hand out of the wrist grip, or sneak their arm over the shoulder of their opponent to secure the cross face. Once the athlete has a tight cross face they will need to move up onto their toes, and begin to stack their opponent onto their neck. With enough driving pressure into the mats an athlete can force their opponent to let go of the guard, before they end up with an injury to their neck.

THE INNOVATION OF NEW AGED GUARD POSITIONS

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a mainstream Martial Art, with the popularity of the sport reaching new heights. Since the Brazilian art first started the growth of all divisions have begun to skyrocket, as the rise in the number of black belt athletes is huge. This factor is a big reason why so many new aged guard systems are being created. Back in the early days Royce Gracie showcased his open guard, and his closed guard, and this was pivotal for the world, as many athletes all discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nowadays the collaborative minds that have all added innovation, and development into many technical components within the art, are astounding. The modern trend has seen athletes train extensively in the leg entanglement bjj game style. This modern series of leg locking submissions are now leading the way in the No Gi divisions throughout the professional competitive circuit of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

Tom DeBlass is one of the most respected grapplers and instructors on the planet!  Learn his CLOSED GUARD DOMINATION secrets and take your game to the next level!

rat guard jiu jitsu

There are a multitude of different guards from all concepts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The lapel guard in the Gi division has seen a significant rise in high level guard systems. Athletes like Keenan Cornelius have created a plethora of highly exceptional guards that all use lapel grips as their core functionality. Guards like the worm guard, the gubber guard, the de la worm guard are just a few examples of how intricate these guard systems in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have become. Other guards that are more heavily controlling like the rubber guard, the rat guard, and the side guard are all excellent guards that have highly unique components. The last one hundred years of evolution have seen some of the world's best athletes improve the art considerably. It is an exciting thought to know what will happen in the years to come, as innovation, and the development of this Brazilian art is never ending.

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