The Closed Guard, The Foundation of Guard
If you train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then are probably familiar with the closed guard. The closed guard is perhaps the most popular guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and it is considered by man, “the foundation” of the guard. Closed guard is the guard that many people are introduced to when they first try a bjj class, it is the position that many mainstream people associate with bjj due to its prevalence in the UFC.
The closed guard is one of the best positions for self-defense, mma, gi, and no gi grappling. Why is the closed guard so vital to Jiu Jitsu? The closed guard is a fundamental guard because it contains all the components necessary to develop a strong bjj game. When learning the closed guard, you will learn to use your hips, create angles, you will learn all the fundamental bjj submissions, you will learn sweeps, and control.
Jiu Jitsu is infamous for developing the guard, although there was newaza work in Judo, the guard was revolutionized by bjj and it was enhanced greatly. When people say guard, many people immediately associate this with the closed guard. This is the most popular guard in the UFC, and it has been executed successfully at the highest levels of Jiu Jitsu competition. Let’s delve deeper into the closed guard and look at why it is so effective in mma and self-defense, why it works so well in gi and no gi, and how it is great for learning the fundamentals and sets up your foundation.
Why Closed Guard Helps Fundamentals
The closed guard is one of the best positions to learn first and it is widely regarded as a fundamental guard. This is because learning the movement and intricacies of the closed guard will help you learn other positions and movements as your progress. For instance, there are so many popular submissions that can be introduced from the closed guard and they can later be taught from other positions as well. Let’s take a look at some of these.
We have the arm bar, the guillotine, the kimura, the triangle, the omoplata, and when using the gi we have the cross choke, loop choke, Ezekiel, and many others. The variety of attacks that can be utilized from the closed guard is what makes it such an excellent position to use as an introduction to the guard. If you familiarize bjj students with the closed guard and teach them various attacks from here it will be much easier to show them these positions from somewhere else.
For example, let’s say you teach the triangle and the arm lock from the closed guard, when you introduce a more complex guard like the spider guard, the students will understand the submissions that they are looking for. Closed guard does not only have many submissions, but it also provides a safe and defensive place which is imperative for beginners. Theoretically, it is impossible to get submitted when someone is in your closed guard. This is because you can use leverage. Now this is not full proof and we all have those strong guys that will do can openers, and Americana’s from inside your closed guard, but at higher levels this should not work.
So closed guard can teach you submissions, help you be defensive, and there are so many entrances to other guards from the closed guard. Closed guard is a great place to search for other more advanced guards like the spider, lasso, butterfly, and de la riva. It is an excellent foundation to go from point A to B. Last but not least, the closed guard teaches you hip movement, chain attacks, and sweeps. These are all vital parts of bjj and learning the closed guard, once again, will provide you with a foundation for how to play guard. Check out this sweep below with Luis Heredia’s black belt, Joel below.
Closed Guard for MMA and Self-Defense
Another reason that many people consider the closed guard the foundation of the guard is because of the prevalence of this position in MMA. Closed guard has long been the most popular guard for MMA. Why? Well it presents it self often, it is an extremely safe position, and it can allow you to be offensive from bottom. The closed guard is the MOST important guard to learn for self-defense and MMA.
The closed guard is the guard that will save your life, it is functional and aggressive. If for some reason you find yourself in a self-defense altercation and someone is able to get you to the ground, the closed guard can save your life. This is because when you put someone in closed guard you neutralize much of their attacks, you can mitigate the potential damage and you can be defensive. You can also strike, sweep, and submit. Closed guard is the best place to control the distance, avoid getting hit and attack.
We see so many other guards that have become popular for sport bjj like De La Riva, spider, and X guard. These are all excellent positions and we have noting against them, the difficulty and criticism with positions like this lies in the fact that they will be hard to use for self-defense or MMA. We are not going to discourage anyone from using them but to be able to use DLR in a street fight is just not realistic, the best bet would be a fundamental closed guard. Take a look below at another sweep with Joel Bouey who is a super legit black belt, he has a system from closed guard that works extremely well in both gi and no gi.
Closed Guard Versatility
Developing a versatile bjj game is imperative. You want your bjj style to work in both gi and no gi and in MMA and self-defense. Even if you don’t train MMA it is still wise to have an A or B level game that you could implement in a self-defense situation. The closed guard is a great place to develop a game that works easily everywhere. This is one of the biggest benefits of the closed guard and yet another reason people consider this the foundation of guard.
You can use closed guard with great success anywhere, yes there are choke and positions that use the gi like the cross choke from closed guard but many closed guard submissions and sweeps work in gi or no gi. Let’s take a look at some, the triangle choke, the guillotine, the arm bar, and the kimura. These are some of the most fundamental submissions and there are hundreds of amazing ways to set them up from the closed guard. Developing a dangerous closed guard game that has submissions like these is always a great idea.
Let’s take a submission like the triangle and make this even more specific. If you are able to develop a good triangle from the closed guard, you will be dangerous everywhere. It’s that simple. You can use the triangle from the closed guard in self-defense or MMA, we have seen dozens of triangle chokes in the UFC at the highest levels. A triangle from closed guard works in the gi, and in no gi at the highest levels of competition. We have seen black belt world championship matches won with a simple triangle from closed guard. It is always wise to have fundamental moves like this down. Take a look at this article on the triangle to accelerate your triangle choke.
Closed Guard To Establish a Game
The closed guard is also one of the stepping stones to establish a game. Establishing a game in Jiu Jitsu is imperative. You want to have moves that you make your own. Developing a game that you are able to make your own, brand, and use against anyone is so vital to progression and the closed guard can aide you in doing this. The reason the closed guard can help you to establish a game is because it is a gateway to the other positions of bjj. As you accelerate your growth in bjj you will learn that you can use the closed guard to get to virtually any position.
For example, you can go from the closed guard to the spider guard, the closed guard to lasso, closed guard to De La Riva and so on and so forth. So, with that said, this position is vital to your progression and development of a game. When we are first starting out bjj we need to create a game and many of us do so from the closed guard. Since it is the foundation of the guard we will start with this position and it will be one of the positions that we familiarize ourselves with first. This is because it is taught as a fundamental so frequently. The closed guard is where we will build our next steps.
So many variables contribute to how we build our game and what we like to do. Our training partners passing methods, our teachers instruction, and other things influence the moves you learn when you are developing and these things come together to create a game. Some people may go to spider from closed while other try and sit to butterfly, the thing in common is the fact that people will use the closed guard as a gateway to other positions.
Not only does the closed guard allow us to develop our guard games but we are also able to develop our submissions so well from here. You can do almost any submission from the closed guard as we spoke about above, so which submissions will we develop from the closed guard? Some people will learn the arm bar well from the closed guard and then later down the road they will notice that they are now very good at the arm bar from several positions. Some people will learn the guillotine from here and then as they progress they will start to use the guillotine from so many other places. The closed guard is not only the foundation of the guard, for many of us, it can be the foundation of our entire game. To learn more about guillotine, check our course The American Jiu Jitsu Guillotine System.
So now you want to work on your closed guard? Well lucky for you we have an excellent DVD also available as a digital download that will help you develop a closed guard game suitable for gi, no gi and MMA. This DVD is with Joel Bouhey. Joel is part of a Rickson Gracie lineage and he has developed an amazing system from closed guard called the Falcon Guard. This is one of the best systems around for developing a versatile closed guard. Check it out below.
Want more about closed gurad? Check then Tiny Woman's Guide To The Guard by Ann Kneib.