SPIDER GUARD BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is fast becoming one of the most popular combative systems in the world. Many military, and law enforcement agencies are now starting to use BJJ techniques purely for the high level street application it possesses. The Brazilian art has a rich history of self defense, and Vale Tudo competition, and since the art first was taught by the Gracie clan, the evolution of the grappling systems have become unlimited. Nowadays athletes have an extremely versatile platform like bjjfanatics.com, and YouTube, to access any type of technical movements. Researching different types of guards like the 50/50 guard, the worm guard, and the bjj inverted guard are now looking like becoming mainstays in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu arsenal.
What this article covers:
- What Is the Spider Guard
- The Origin of The Spider Guard
- The Best Setup for The Spider Guard
- How to Defend the Spider Guard
There is an extensive range of extremely technical guards in the modern game of BJJ. There are guards that range from the traditional bjj full guard, to the more outlandish style of the lasso guard. All guards in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu will allow an athlete to gain a significant control, while disrupting their opponents balance, and either sweeping them, or setting up a variety of different submission maneuvers. One of the best guards to utilise in Jiu Jitsu is the spider guard, and this is because of its versatility in organising sweeps, submissions, or transitions to various other control positions. Many world class level grapplers like Romulo Barral, Rubens Charles, Rafael Lovato Jr, Michael Langhi, and Renzo Gracie have all utilised the spider guard in IBJJF competition matches, and with a great deal of success.
WHAT IS THE SPIDER GUARD
The guard position is the most iconic in the business, and guard players can access a high range of positions like the x-guard, the de la riva guard, and the bjj butterfly guard. One of the most iconic guards in BJJ is the spider guard, and this is a guard that can be utilised in the Gi, and the No Gi disciplines.
To execute this guard an athlete will secure grips on both sleeves of an opponent, before placing one, or both of their feet on the inside of their opponent’s biceps. This control with their feet will block the upper body off the opponent, while the grip on the sleeve will help to control their posture. The difference with this position in No Gi is instead of using grips on the sleeve, the athlete will simply utilise wrist grips. The spider guard is an extremely good controlling position for an athlete to launch into sweep maneuvers, submission attacks, and various other transitional movements, which will help to control positions like the back.
THE ORIGIN OF THE SPIDER GUARD
The spider guard was developed mainly to be a defensive weapon against the bigger and stronger opponents. This position was fundamentally created by Helio, and Carlos Gracie back in the early days of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. This is where they would commonly step on their opponent's hip, and place one of their feet into the bicep to attempt submissions like the triangle. This guard was also used in the early 1940's in many Judo practitioners' game styles, as they would commonly use this technique to take an opponent down in an attempt to set up arm bars. In the 1980's the spider guard became a natural development by many athletes that were training extensively in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Renzo Gracie was one of the first to be seen utilising these guard techniques in competition, against heavy opponents in the open weight division.
Mauricio Tinguinha Mariano was credited with many early developments within the spider guard system. Mauricio believed when he was younger that he was the only practitioner using the spider guard position, until he saw Roberto Travern using the same position in BJJ competitions. He then went on to believe that this position was just the natural evolution in transitioning in, and out of a closed guard. Mauricio first discovered this position while training against heavier opponents in his academy. Spending multiple times laying on his back trying to set up guards on his opponent led to a natural development of the spider guard position. Mauricio firmly believes that the spider guard is more than just a position, as it is more of a system that all athletes need to learn comprehensively if they want to be successful.
THE BEST SETUP FOR THE SPIDER GUARD
One of the most basic setups for the spider guard will happen from the bjj closed guard. All the student needs to do is secure two wrist grips in No Gi, or two sleeve grips if the technique is being practised in the Gi. From this position the athlete will open up their guard, sliding both of their knees to the inside of their opponents elbows. It is important to note that once the student has secured sleeve grips, and has their knees in position, they should flare their knees outward creating tension, which will start to compromise the balance of their opponent, and make it hard for them to gain space. The student will then pick a side they want to go to, and proceed to place one of their feet into the bicep of their opponent. As the student begins to extend their leg into the bicep, the angle of their body will naturally shift toward one side, and this is important to keep tension in the leg so that the opponent does not secure a guard pass. The goal in extending into an opponent's bicep is to keep their arm isolated from the rest of their body, and this will help to compromise their balance. Both legs can be placed into both biceps, but it is more common to keep only one in place, so that a student can attack their unbalanced opponent quickly with triangles, omoplatas, or arm bars. Switching from side to side, and swapping which foot is placed in the bicep, can be a good way to negate a pass attempt from their opponent. This is also a good drill to practise for students, so they can become accustomed in how to successfully set up a spider guard position.
SWEEPS FROM THE SPIDER GUARD
The spider guard position is a comprehensive system that can allow an athlete to execute a variety of different kinds of sweep maneuvers. One of the most basic sweeps from the spider guard position can be executed by extending their leg into the bicep of their opponent. This control position will already be compromising the balance of an opponent, and if the student then underhooks their opponent's opposite leg, or simply secures a grip on their Gi pants, then they can use this leverage to push their opponent in the same direction as their extended leg. As they push their opponent down towards the mat they will utilise the grip on the leg, lifting it up, and circling it down, forcing their opponent's back onto the mat. The student should then transition into some type of control position like side control.
Another common sweep that can be set up from the spider guard position will happen out of pure instincts. After securing the spider guard the athlete should wait for their opponent's reaction, and sometimes this can be placing both of their feet towards the hips of the student, as they are trying to shake off the control that the student has over their arms. Once an opponent steps too close towards the student who is in the guard position, all the student has to do is simultaneously let go of the wrist controls, switching their hands, and cupping the back of both of their opponents ankles. As they make this transition they will then switch their foot from out of the bicep, pushing both feet into the hips of their opponent, as they lift their ankles upwards, and this will force the opponent to fall flat onto their back. From here it is important for the student not to let go of the ankles, because they will be creating a 50/50 scramble situation, instead they need to keep hold of the ankles, and direct their opponent's feet away from their body, as they simultaneously maneuver themself into a control position.
Another good sweep that can be executed from the spider guard, usually happens after the opponent begins to use the spider system to unbalance their opponent. This can sometimes force the opponent to lean too far over the abdomen of the student, giving the student an opportunity to slip both of their feet into the hips of their opponent. Simultaneously the student will pull their wrists backwards, and extend their feet straight up into the air, which will in turn lift their opponent off of the mat entirely. From here there is a range of different options to get their opponent to the mat, one is simply kicking them to the side, and jumping up into side control. Another good option is to lift their opponent high, rolling over their shoulder and kicking them over their own head, this is a good sweep because if it is done right the student can follow the trajectory of the sweep, and roll all the way over landing into the mount position.
SUBMISSIONS FROM THE SPIDER GUARD
There are many different submissions that can be utilised from the spider guard position. Like an armbar, or a leg entanglement bjj position, but one of the more popular ones is the triangle choke, which is another submission that has multiple variations. The First step is to flare out an opponent's elbow with their spider control, while simultaneously stepping on the hip with their other leg. From this position the student will use their spider control leg to shoot over the neck of their opponent, securing the triangle. It is important to utilise the foot that is on their opponent's hip to lift up the students own hips before they shoot for the triangle, as this will give them a much better clearance rate in order to trap their opponent into this locking mechanism. It can be extremely important to bait opponents by attempting a sweep first, and then waiting until they post with their feet, or their hands, and then shoot in for the triangle submission.
Setting up the omoplata from the spider guard can be one of the most simple attacks, and the most effective. Considering an omoplata can be a sweep, or a submission this maneuver can be one of the most successful. The most simplest way of setting up this submission attempt is when an opponent is in the standing position. The first thing a student needs to do is place one foot on their opponents hip, and use their other leg that has the spider control to extend their opponent's arm away, and this will help create an opportunity to then slide the leg that is in the opponent's hip up behind the arm, and over the front of the shoulder, before catching the omoplata position. Another variation of the omoplata submission starts with a spider control on one bicep, and a lasso grip with the other leg. The next step is to flare out the opponent's elbow using the spider control, and releasing the hand from the sleeve of the spider control, and regripping to the opposite side collar, which has the lasso control. It is important to still apply pressure into the spider control with the student's foot, as they kick the lasso leg through and enter into an omoplata position.
TRANSITIONS FROM THE SPIDER GUARD
There are multiple transitions that can be utilised from the spider guard. Setting up a control position like a spider control can force an opponent to make hasty decisions when they are attempting to escape the clutches of the student. This can lead to a student setting up a dominant position like the back control. Once a student has control over the bicep of their opponent they may look to switch their grips, using a cross grip on the wrist. This can lead to an opening towards the back control, where the student can use their hook around the outside of the hip to find themself a nice little entry into a back take. There are many different variations in how to access back control from the spider guard, as other positions like the berimbolo, and crab rides can be utilised to secure this control position.
There are other positions that can be secured from having a spider control, and these can range through a variety of different guard positions. The lasso guard is one that can be utilised quite easily out of the spider guard, as well as various other guards like the x-guard, and the de la riva guard. Using spider control to bait an opponent into taking an incorrect step can often lead to a nice switch into a different control position. Using this kind of strategy helps a student secure a higher variety of entries into many different types of submission attacks. These kinds of concepts can also lead into making it extremely hard for an opponent to defend, or escape from a student's controls. Many of these transitions can be utilised in the Gi, and the No Gi disciplines, as the high calibre of the spider game has become exponential in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
HOW TO DEFEND THE SPIDER GUARD
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can be known as an extremely frustrating, and stifling form of Martial Arts. And one of the most annoying guards that will frustrate an opponent is the spider guard. There are however ways of defending this position, and using the spider control as an advantage for an opponent.
One of the most fundamental concepts of passing a spider guard is to utilise great posture, this means that a student should not stand upright, instead lowering their body into more of a squatting position where they can use a strong base to upset the control positions of the spider. The next step is to upset the leverage of the feet in the biceps, and this can be done by retracting a student's elbows back into their own body, which will inhibit the opponent from accessing a spider control. From here students should be stepping backwards, and this is because stepping forwards will only help an opponent apply sweeps, or submissions from that control. By stepping backwards this will force the spider controller to have to reach more in order to access their range of maneuvers. Another important tip is not to lower onto a student's knees as this will become even easier for the opponent to sweep. The next step of the process is to break the grip of the opponent over the wrist, and the student must first let go of their own grips on their opponent's pants. From here they should be circling their arm underneath the leg on the outside, and pushing through onto the inside of the leg, and this will create leverage, and will force the grip to break with ease.
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