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The Most Powerful Guards For Smaller Grapplers
2 Powerful Guards for The Smaller Guys
If you are a smaller grappler with any experience in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you will probably have some sense of understanding that weight and strength play a big advantage in competition or a live roll. Often times you will be focused primarily on sweeps and escapes, having spent a lot of time getting smashed or pinned under a bigger, heavier guy. But that does not mean that you are at a disadvantaged. Jiu jitsu is the great equalizer of all men and women no matter what your body type might be. Being small has its advantages too. Typically a smaller grappler is quicker, more agile, and more flexible. Having these attributes opens up realms of grappling that a bigger guy may never have access too. Ultimately, if you are a smaller grappler you will benefit from precision technique over strength and smashing to dominate your opponent.
Smaller grapplers are constantly going to have to face bigger and stronger grapplers. Having a dynamic guard that can stop these monsters in their tracks is paramount to the survival of the little guy in Jiu Jitsu.
Part of have precision technique as a small grappler is all about your guard game. If you have a good guard it will be a lot more difficult for a larger training partner to smash and pass you. By keeping an opponent outside and away from your body you eliminate their ability to control and dominate. Your goal is to prevent them from using weight distribution in their favor. So what guards work well for this type of tactic? Today we will explore two guards that can be extremely powerful for the smaller guys.
#1: Powerful Guard for Small Grapplers: Spider Guard
The spider guard is perhaps the best guard for small BJJ players. Why is this? Well, the spider guard is used primarily to manage the distance of your opponent. By using your legs and grips to control your opponent in some primary body you prevent him or her from easily smash passing. The spider guard also allows you to be aggressive and dynamic in your movement. As such, this can also be a great guard for launching into a submission. Arm bars, triangles, and omoplatas are all available as submissions from the spider guard. Or, if you are having troubling finishing from here you can set up effective sweeps.
There are many examples of spider guard used in high level BJJ competition. Today we are going to take a look at a video from a spider guard master class with Elliott Bayev and Stephan Kesting. They will show us the key to dominating your opponent from spider guard using pressure. Check out the video below.
Take note of the pushing and pulling mechanisms that create immense pressure for your opponent in spider guard. Your legs are the most powerful “pushers” of your body. By combining the pushing mechanism of the foot and pulling on the gi sleeve you decide what distance you keep your opponent at. Also take note of how dynamic the spider guard can be. There are a variety of grips and movements you can use to stretch your training partner out, controlling their upper body and moving their weight off balance to break down their posture and base.
Still struggling to master the spider guard? Check out these spider guard drills from Rehan Muttalib and Bernardo Faria.
#2: Power Guard for Small Grapplers: De La Riva Guard
The second most powerful guard for small grapplers is the De La Riva guard. What is so great about this guard is that is does not allow your opponent to put all their weight on you. The De La Riva is easy to set up, and provides you with a plethora of sweeping and submission opportunities. It also allows you to control the distance of your opponent – another primary way for a smaller grappler to gain an advantage on a bigger guy. Once you set your hook and your grips you control their entire body. It can be a very playful position, allowing you to control distance relatively safely until you are ready to mount an attack.
Let us take a look at a back take from De La Riva by Felipe Preguica Pena. Check out the video below
Ultimately, there are a lot of other guards that can be very effective for a smaller grappler. How you develop your gain depends very much on your body type, your athleticism and what you find “works” for you. Do not be afraid to explore new guards, even if you try them and you fail, you are still learning something. BJJ is all about figuring out which techniques work for your game and then mastering them. So if you are a smaller grappler, explore the spider guard and the de la riva, but do not be afraid to look at other guards!