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Shin-on-Shin Guard with Michelle Nicolini and Lachlan Giles
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Shin-on-Shin Guard with Michelle Nicolini and Lachlan Giles

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Want to learn the tricks of a master shin-on-shin guard plater? Then check out this breakdown of Michelle Nicolini’s guard game.

Sitting and shin-on-shin guards were popularized by Marcelo Garcia. This guard style was used with butterfly guard, single leg X, X guard, and others to create a game that favored staying close and tight with his opponent and having expert control over their base. 

This type of guard game allowed Garcia, as a smaller person, to successfully sweep and submit larger/stronger people.

More recently, Michelle Nicolini has used her version of shin-on-shin in her impressive competitive career, including no less than 8 World Champion titles, an ADCC win, and a World Pro Cup Champion title.

Michelle Nicolini has done something interesting to set up a seamless guard game that includes the shin-on-shin.

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Nicolini integrates her shin-on-shin guard with spider guard. This gives her the ability to maintain control as her opponent moves between being on their

 knees and standing, as you can see in the video below.


If her opponent starts on their knees, Nicolini will start by setting up her spider guard. Then, she’ll force her opponent to stand, either by threatening a sweep or a triangle.

In the transition to standing, Nicolini has a few options. One is to establish shin control with one leg while maintaining spider control with the other leg.

This creates a hybrid spider/shin-on-shin guard that gives Nicolini a lot of sweeping power, both when her opponent is squatting and when they’re standing.

In this position, the shin control can be used to enhance the sweeping power of the spider hook, giving Nicolini a lot of control.

If the sweep isn’t working from there, though, Nicolini can still transition to full-on shin-on-shin guard.

As her opponent stands, Nicolini can follow them up, wrapping her arm behind their leg and weaving their belt of opposite sleeve through to the wrapping arm in the traditional setup.

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From there, if she can’t get immediate shin-on-shin control, she can fall to her side and weave her shin in between her and her opponent, without ever giving enough space to give up control.

Now, all of the options and control a standard shin-on-shin guard provides are available to her.

All of this makes Nicolini’s spider/shin-on-shin guard is a versatile game that allows provides a lot of control in any position her opponent may be in.

The shin-on-shin guard is also a good game to use against knee-slicers, since the shin control allows you to elevate your opponent’s slicing leg, right into a sweep.

For a breakdown of how to finish the shin-on-shin sweep once you’ve set up the position, Lachlan Giles has a good one, shown below.


Giles shows the transition from shin-on-shin to X-guard and the sweep from there, and the transition to a double leg type takedown from shin-on-shin.

Giles also shows what to do if you get stuck in shin-on-shin. This can be useful for a shin-on-shin guarder to know, so you know how your opponent should escape to prevent them from doing so.

The main concept of the shin-on-shin defense is to keep the person from rocking you to the side and using their hook. That means staying heavy to the opposite side, so your opponent has as little leverage as possible.

On the flip side, to get a good sweep from shin-on-shin, you want your opponent to be off-balance, and to keep them going toward the side where your hook is most effective.

With these shin-on-shin guard-specific details, plus Nicolini’s stellar entry, a strong guard game can be constructed that continually keeps your opponent tied up and on the defensive.

Want more from Lachlan Giles? Check out his DVD  "The Half Guard Anthology", and get to work on improving your half guard! BJJ Fanatics has it! Check it out here!

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