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Stop Losing to Single Leg X Guard

Stop Losing to Single Leg X Guard

The rise of leg locks in recent years increased the popularity of a guard that most grapplers know today, or at least should know. Ashi garami, often called single leg X guard is a modification of another popular guard, X-guard.

Ashi garami was initially seen as an obscure position that is only useful for leg locks. These days, the position is used for a wide variety of attacks, transitions, and sweeps that few people anticipated.

Furthermore, grappling against a good Ashi garami can be difficult because most defenses gives rise to other opponents or sweeps, leaving the defender limited to only a few ways to defend and pass.

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One of my personal favorite transitions from ashi garami when someone is attempting to defend is switching to X guard by moving the foot on the near side hip to the other side. X guard can be a very tricky position to escape.

As I previously eluded, there are few ways of defending single leg X and they all require significant practice and balance. A small mistake in movement or positioning can open up all sorts of sweeps and leg attacks.

The primary goal when trapped in single leg X is making sure the guard player can’t move their hips. This is done primarily by pushing the knee down on the chest while keeping the back foot far and active. The following video by Lucas Lepri illustrates defenses to the single leg X utilizing this concept. See below:

One thing that always has to stay on your mind when defending single leg X is the transition to X-guard. In order to defend this, face your opponent nearly directly while staying lay, and when you take their foot off your hip, keep holding it until you are sure you are safe.

Although heel hooks aren’t legal in the gi, they are no-gi. This means you have to remain wary of that while rotating your leg. A trick I learned to help with this is before rotating the leg, slide your foot back as much as possible. This will make the foot too far to capture and prevents heel hooks and ankle locks.

Professor Lepri’s video instructional “The Science of Guard Passing” breaks down in detail how he has managed to compete at Worlds and not lose a match in 6 years, many times having zero points scored on him.  In an area that we all have an opportunity, adding to our ever changing guard passing game, this video instructional is sure to provide details that will put you on the next level.

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