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The Art of the Closed Guard

The Art of the Closed Guard


The closed guard is one of the most difficult positions to get good at.  It is one of the most popular guards in bjj and MMA, and it is one of the first guards that everybody learns.  The closed guard can be utilized at the beginner levels of bjj and highest levels of bjj.  It can also be utilized at the highest and lowest levels of MMA depending on the complexity and your understanding of the position.

Why is the closed guard so good?  There are so many submissions, sweeps, transitional set ups, and attacks from the closed guard.  The possibility of attacks is almost endless.  Today, we are not discussing any specific attacks but we will talk about some key details to having a good closed guard.  It is important to have good hip movement and control your opponent’s posture in the closed guard.

Hip Mobility and Closed Guard

Having good hip mobility in closed guard is imperative.  You need to be able to move your hips so that you can stop your opponent from opening your guard, you can set up a string of attacks, and you can create angles that allow you to generate leverage for attacks. Hip mobility goes a long way in the closed guard.  Having fast hips will also allow you to finish submissions and sweeps from the closed guard and get off the center line.

Getting off the center line in closed guard mean not being directly in front of your opponent and creating angles.  This is a concept that will allow you to go from one attack to another.  For instance, when attacking an arm bar, you cannot be on the center line, when attacking a good kimura or omoplata, you should be off the center line.  The same goes for sweeps.  Check out our article “The Triangle From Closed Guard” where we discuss the triangle in depth and you gain more insight to the center line concept.  Also, check out one of grapplings masterminds, Neil Melanson discussing the center line in a video below.

Posture Control in Closed Guard

Controlling your opponent’s posture may be one of the most important things you can do in closed guard.  If your opponent has good posture it is next to impossible to sweep or submit them from the closed guard.  There are several ways to breakdown your opponent’s posture in the closed guard.  You must understand body mechanics and be able to create the leverage necessary to break down your opponent’s posture.

Knowing how to use every inch of your bodies muscles is very important.  In closed guard, theoretically, you should be able to break almost anyone’s posture.  You can use your legs, hips, grips, back, and core to break down your opponent’s posture.  This means that you should be engaging all your strongest muscle groups just to break them down. 

Once you have learned how to break down your opponent’s posture well and combine that with good hip mobility you will begin to see yourself destroying people in closed guard. Check out our article “Top Submissions from Closed Guard” to see some attacks and notice how they all require posture to be broken.  Also, check out this video of closed guard master, Neil Melanson, showing some attacks from closed guard.

If you would like to take your Closed Guard to the next level, get your hands-on Neil Melansons 4 DVD set, “The Ground Marshall Guard.”  Neil has long been infamous for having one of the best closed guards in the world. Although he is a big guy, he has a world-famous guard and has trained with many of the top UFC and ADCC competitors.


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