The Always Applicable Spider Guard!
In the world of gi Jiu Jitsu, there is one guard that works for a variety of different situations. That guard happens to be guarda aranha, known in English as spider guard. The always applicable spider guard works as both an offensive and defensive guard, and also works as a sweeping or submitting guard. This guard is popular with a lot of the top competitors in international Jiu Jitsu and can be added to anyone’s game. Treating spider guard as a system rather than just as a series of techniques is how you can become effective with this guard.
First, to begin the process of getting good at spider guard, you need to make sure you have three key elements down. Those three elements are grip strength, leg strength and leg flexibility. There are exercises to improve strength and flexibility, so you have your pick. I like to use a gripper, which is a common small piece of exercise equipment for grip training, and use stretches for my legs and hips for flexibility. If you are going to be playing this guard a lot, athletic tape for your fingers is a fantastic investment. When you play spider guard, you’ll end up skinning your fingers due to keeping strong grips on an opponent’s sleeves. Skinning the top of your fingers is very common and tape will prevent that.
The beautiful aspect of spider guard is the control you have on your opponent. Usually for effective use of Jiu Jitsu techniques, you need three points of contact. With spider guard, you have four points of contact. Those contacts will give you a strong control, and exercise it in an offensive or defensive nature. The contacts you have can vary as well. With spider guard, the contact variations an include but are not limited to; both feet on the biceps, two sleeve grips/foot on the bicep, foot on the hip, two sleeve grips/foot on the bicep, foot on the hip, sleeve grip, collar grip, and more. You can also use spider guard in conjunction with other guards such as de la riva or single leg x. As you can see, there is a good amount of versatility when it comes to spider guard. Check out spider guard master, Michael Langhi use it in competition below.
Spider guard is also great for those who like to play top game, but aren’t exactly great at takedowns. With spider guard, there is a whole arsenal of sweeps that will get you off of your back and on top of your opponent. There are sweeps from this guard against people who play low or play standing. Due to the fact that you are controlling an opponent’s upper body via their sleeve and bicep, you can manipulate them and make openings for sweeps. Down below, you’ll see a video with black belt Kris Kim who shows a couple of sweep options.
While the sweeps are a huge part of spider guard, there are submission options as well. Because of the arm and shoulder manipulations from the guard, armbars, omoplatas and triangle chokes become readily available. The off-balancing is what makes these techniques available. Once you off balance and manipulate your opponent, your attacks will work. Check out Ricardo Cavalcanti showing some submission possibilities from spider guard.
As you can see, spider guard can be used to a great degree in sport Jiu Jitsu competition. It gives you the everything you need to be able to control and defeat an opponent. No matter what pressure that an opponent can give you from top control, your spider guard, if trained correctly can neutralize it and then take advantage of that pressure. Train hard, and train smart!