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Single Leg X-Guard: Basics and Versatility with One of The Most Interesting Guards in BJJ

Single Leg X-Guard: Basics and Versatility with One of The Most Interesting Guards in BJJ


The single leg x position has been making appearances in BJJ for years.

Its evolved considerably into a very dynamic position with its own unique set of attributes that can be used to reverse, transition, set up submissions, and add considerable value to our BJJ arsenals.

Most people nowadays tend to think leg locks when they hear single leg x, and for good reason. Especially at the earliest stages of our leg lock studies, the single leg x is considered to be the jumping off platform to begin learning how to entangle the legs, as it often provides our first experiences with the lower body attack game. As we gain a greater understanding, we begin using the position as an intermediary to transition between the different entanglements, as it can serve as a hub for your leg lock game.

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But the position isn’t all about no gi and attacking the lower half of the body. It’s used in the gi as well, and adding in our favorite grip sets in the gi can make the single leg x that much more difficult to deal with. The position can get rather elaborate when adding the element of the gi, and it offers some excellent ways to deal with your opponents.

Let’s look at a few different ways to use single leg x. We will go over some gi and no gi options to demonstrate the versatility of this amazing position.

We’ll start with the basic SLXG sweep from Lachlan Giles. He’s gives us three different versions of the sweep that correlate to the actions of your partner and how we can react to each unique scenario.

Giles begins by establishing the SLXG and showing us how to properly position our bodies. With a straight ankle style wrap of the entangled leg, Giles makes sure to lift his lower back off of the floor to secure his SLXG above his partner’s knee. From here, if the opposite leg is available for capture, its and easy sweep. Giles simply acquires the opposite foot and then squares himself to the middle. He elevates his hips and pushes his knee in to his partners belly to complete the reversal.

In the event that the foot is not within reach, Giles can still execute the sweep, but hell need a slightly different approach. Instead of focusing his energy toward the middle, Giles will now lift his hips off of the mat and turn sharply in to the SLXG (in this case, to his left). This twisting motion will turn his partner’s knee outward which helps to collapse his partner’s leg and bring him down to the mat.

If his partner chooses to go down on to one knee to avoid the sweep from the feet, Giles makes an adjustment. The sweep becomes much less likely here, as his partner’s center of gravity is low, the base is strong, and much of his weight is resting on the opposite side from the SLXG. Here, Giles scoops under his partner’s leg and places it on his shoulder (I always use the reference of someone holding a bazooka here… silly but you know exactly what I mean right?). From here Giles’s needs to create some space, so he uses his SLXG to push his partner away slightly. Using both of his feet he kicks his partner away, and at the same time comes up to a seated position, much like the beginnings of a technical lift.


  • When attempting this sweep be sure to first begin with trying to acquire that far leg. If you get it, the reversal will be almost 100% full proof. As you attempt to grab that far side leg your partner will adjust their base to keep you from getting it. This results in the spreading out of their base. The more they spread the base, and attempt to keep the foot from your grasp, the more likely the twisting variation of this sweep will be the one that gets job done. Always begin with first trying to secure the far foot.
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  • If the first options are failing us, Giles recommends getting your opponents hands to the floor. To do this, he uses his instep to push up on his partners thigh, causing him to fall forward and put his hands to the mat. Upon his partner recovering, Giles lifts his hips and completes the twisting style sweep. For a little extra power, Giles also recommends pushing off the floor with your free foot and upward with your instep, which will have the same effect. Sometimes this method will simply bring you the far foot, and you can continue back to beginning of this cycle.

This is a great place to start if you’re just getting in to the SLXG. Giles’s has given us a variety of options here to keep your opponent guessing and ultimately complete the sweep.

Let’s move on to a different approach to the basic SLXG sweep. A great time to set up our single leg x guard is during a period where our partner is standing to pass. This provides us with lots of room to get our SLXG established. In this video Charles Harriott is going to show us how to perform a basic sweep from the position when we can’t acquire our partners opposite leg. He’s got some great details that may help you tighten up your SLXG game. Have a look.

From the SLXG Harriott first lets us know that if your partners opposite foot is within your reach, the sweep becomes very easy, as we learned in the last video with Giles. You simply just acquire the foot with your free hand, and then lift and turn your hips in to the entangled leg for the sweep. There’s no way for the top player to catch their balance with both legs secured, and this leads to a guaranteed reversal.

At the higher levels, the balance and overall awareness of the top player becomes much more seasoned and tougher to shake. In this case we will need another method of shaking a strong foundation in order to attain the same style of sweep.

Harriot has a great answer for a top player with a solid base. When he can’t capture the loose leg, Harriott pushes upward toward his partner’s jaw with his heel that’s planted in the hip. This causes his partners foot to begin to rise off of the floor. Harriott then turns his body and guides his partner’s foot under him, creating a scenario where his partner must take the fall or risk a break to ankle. Be sure to continue to bridging upward through this movement to assist you in completing it properly.

I’ve always tried to come up with ways to snag that loose foot to complete this style of sweep, but Harriott is bypassing it completely with this variation. This is a great answer to a passer with an excellent base, that affords us the ability to still complete the reversal while not having control of both legs. Great stuff!

Further exploring the versatility of the position, have a look at this toe hold from Felipe Pena from the single leg x-guard.

Working from the De La Riva guard, Pena makes a simple transition to establish the single leg x. From here, Pena uses his legs to close his knees and cause his partners foot to come up off of the mat, exposing it for the toe hold. Pena scores a toe hold grip and extends his far hook to the underside of his partners far thigh to keep him spread out. For the finish, Pena applies pressure to lock, bending his partners knee and forcing it down to the mat. By bending the leg, Pena keeps his partner from entering in to a roll to defend the submission.

This is a pretty uncommon way to use the single leg x, but if we end up on the other end of an exchange in single leg x with a savvy player, our go to stuff may be tough to implement. This foot lock is a great way to force the action. Even if you don’t secure a tap, you’ll likely get your partner moving and cause them to make a mistake that leads you to transition to the next dominant spot.

There’s a lot of great ideas here. We have lots of alternative methods to get that initial sweep to work, and a technique in the gi that’s sure to surprise your opponents and force some action. The single leg x guard is one of the most versatile guards in BJJ, and you don’t have to look very far to become inundated with hundreds of techniques from this position. Keep it simple at first, and then begin building on and creating your own single leg x arsenal!

John Danaher has changed the leg lock game with his technical leg lock system. Get his DVD "Leg Locks: Enter The System" and learn from one of the best instructors in the game! BJJ Fanatics has it here!



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