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Shawn Williams and the “Williams Guard” Will Breath New Life into Your Guard Game
Over the past several years new ways of approaching the guard have been continually emerging.
BJJ players all over the world have taken the guard and made it their own, developing new ways to trap, control, and position themselves in ways that make life difficult for the opposing party.
These guards are many times born out of different preferences, body types, and sometimes perhaps on accident. Regardless of how these new ideas came to be, they’ve ascended from their creators in to the BJJ world, adding value to the games of those that choose to jump on board with the concepts. There’s a lid for every pot, and these alternative guards have found homes with many that enjoy them.
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I remember seeing some content on the Williams guard several years ago. It looked very cool, and appeared to be applicable. With a bit of study, I managed to have some small amount of success with the position, and every so often it made an appearance in my training. I appreciated the technical aspects of the position and its control, as I am a smaller BJJ player, and always looking for efficiency.
Shawn Williams, the innovator of the Williams guard has created an entire system out of the position, and we’re getting some bits and pieces of it leading up to and following his newest release with BJJ Fanatics.
Check out this quick video on the history of the guard, how it came to be, and how it transformed in to what we know it as today.
It’s interesting to hear a little bit about the history of the Williams guard, and how the guard was battle tested, causing it to morph and change into something more solid and effective. Williams came up with one of the most respected crews in BJJ history, so there’s no doubt his guard has been pressure tested over and over again. Through this process something very unique and special has emerged, and we’re going to learn a lot more about it.
Let’s see what Williams has been up to. Today we’ll take a look at a few excerpts from his instructional series, and break them down. I’ve been looking forward to delving in to this material since I heard it was going to be available.
This first bit of instruction deals with an arm bar, but we can also get a good feel for the Williams guard and what it looks like. Enjoy!
Positioned on his left side with a strong angle, Williams sets up the guard. Notice how Williams has created a good angle and is positioned on his left side. His top leg rides across his partners shoulder line, and his top arm is threaded under that top leg. He’s secured a gable grip and his bottom arm acts as a frame, resting against his partners head and neck area. You can see there are many possibilities here, and the position offers an incredible level of control.
Here Williams warn us of his partner using the inside track and also the necessity of clearing the top arm. As his partner drives forward to position his head over Williams’s, this creates a pocket of opportunity for Williams to place his foot on his partner’s and begin to bridge. As his partner begins to drive forward, his arm becomes pinned under the backside of Williams’s body. Williams can then pass his leg over his partners head and begin to attack the arm with little possibility of defense from his partner. If the arm happens to come free the trap triangle is right within his reach.
Speaking of the trap triangle, this next video deals with securing the position. Here, Williams begins by using the Williams guard as his home base for the set up. Take a look.
In this particular scenario his partner has chosen to post his hand and begin driving Williams back flat. With the posted hand on the ground, there is nothing stopping Williams from immediately bringing his leg to the inside and securing a triangle trap. Williams prefers to pull the leg back through the space rather than swiveling it to attain the position, as this requires less hip flexibility, and will usually be the most unobstructed path. Simple, applicable, and effective. Great stuff!
Let’s move on to a very simple concept. Breaking your partner down in closed guard, specifically in no gi. Without fail, especially as a beginner, you will have many stents inside the closed guard. Everyone that trains BJJ needs to know how to close the distance between themselves and another player. We need ways to control them, keep them close, and methods of attack, if we hope to achieve a level of success in closed guard scenarios. Take a look at this.
Williams first touches on a very important detail, which I’ll say more than likely gets overlooked quite often. That is the position of the legs in the closed guard that allows us to use them in an effective manner.
He warns against letting the knees rest on the ribcage. This sort of lazy guard is only kept sturdy by the lock of the feet. Which as you know is not easily maintained in a live setting. Williams positions his hips on top of his partners, this puts his quads under the ribs instead of the knees, which provides a tremendous amount of power when pulling his partner forward.
Have you ever had the new guy drive his elbows downward into to your thighs to try and open your guard? Of course, you have. You’ve probably done it yourself at some point. Don’t get mad. What do you expect from someone that’s never been stuck inside of your legs before, and has no clue how you get out?
Williams has a great remedy for this. As his partner drives his elbows down in to his thighs, Williams cups the elbows and begins to shake his legs. This activates the stabilizer muscles in the top players arms, making it very difficult to remain in this position. As the passer becomes more unstable, Williams uses his leg to pull them forward, closing the gap between them.
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As the distance is closed, Williams pommels his hands to the inside, creates an angle, and begins to implement a guard of his choice. The possibilities are endless at this juncture, but the initial steps are critical to getting here.
This is a fantastic entry level concept. Quite honestly, I wish I’d seen this video 12 years ago. I would have put it to use on multiple occasions. Keep this in mind and share it with your beginner BJJ pals. Just the simple detail of resting your hips on top of your partners could be game changing.
This next video is on a favorite subject of mine. Finishing the back take. Partly because I’m not good at it, and secondly because I feel that taking the back is one of the most important skill sets in BJJ. To me, the back is unrivaled where control and having the ability to threaten your partner with the finish. With all of your partners defenses out front, it makes the back a more than favorable position to not only attain, but to constantly study and improve upon. Have a look!
This technique is launched from the closed guard. In whatever manner you’re able to drag your partner's arm across your own body, this leaves them very vulnerable. Any time the passer is found with both of his/her arms on the other side of your body, a pathway to the back has surely revealed itself. The video begins in this scenario.
With his arm draped over his partners back, and his chest very tight to his partner, Williams can alleviate the possibility of losing his opportunity to steal the back. By inverting his knee, Williams can make a smooth transition to the top, where he is now on the back, and poised to make his next move.
Williams opts for something unique here. He looks for the posted hand of his partner, and secures it. He then moves his partners hand to a position where he can no longer hold a solid base, and then drops his weight to the far side. Williams gives us some good advice here. He instructs us to think about putting our knee to the mat, and our hips will do the rest of the work. As long as the belt line hook is in place, and we keep this in mind, our bodies will know what to do.
This lands Williams squarely on the back or in a sideways mount type position. Both are favorable and incredibly dominant platforms from which to begin launching our attacks.
There are some great concepts at play here from a legendary figure in the BJJ community. If you haven’t experimented much with the Williams guard, maybe now is a good time to start. You never know what new doors it may open for you!
If you're ready to learn directly from the source, then you have to check out "The Complete Williams Guard". This DVD will give your guard game a new edge, and keep you a step ahead of everyone! Check it out here!