The Side Closed Guard with Xande Ribeiro
We’re really excited at BJJ Fanatics to continue bringing you game changing material from the best practitioners in the world, and today is no different.
We’ve just finished filming an instructional with Xande Ribeiro on the closed guard, following on from his hugely successful Diamond Concept of Defense tutorial.
Xande Ribeiro has competed and won at the highest levels of BJJ for a long time. He won the Worlds seven times and ADCC twice. He has beat a huge roster of the biggest names in the sport and guess what?
Xande hasn’t had his guard passed in fourteen years at the highest level of competition!
Something that many people find incredibly valuable in BJJ is the sense of community, and being on a shared journey where we’re all helping each other grow. It’s great to hear Xande and Bernardo talk about this, and the importance of passing on Jiu-Jitsu to people coming into the art.
One topic of conversation around a lot at the moment is “old school” and “new school” jiu-jitsu, but for Xande there really is only one school, the Efficient School!
If a technique works, and is effortless, it’s efficient. This core concept of Alavanca, or Leverage in Portguese, or Seiryoku Zenyo (maximum efficiency) from Judo is the essence of Jiu-Jitsu, and the framework Xande is using here to assess and evaluate good from bad technique.
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One of the techniques that is being seen more as “old school” jiu-jitsu now is closed guard. It’s also very effective, very safe, and is used by some of the best in the game.
It can be easy to get caught up in collecting techniques when they are shiny, new, and exciting, but this might come at the cost of not drilling down into the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu and developing a rock solid core of effective, reliable techniques that work in any context.
A key mentality for developing one’s game overall and during individual sparring sessions or competitions is patience.
Efficient technique helps with our patience because while our opponent is burning energy away we are staying efficient and gaining a clear advantage over our fatigued opponent.
One of the components to efficiency isn’t only technique itself, but the strategic way the technique is employed. Using the concept of action and reaction Xande is able to dictate the rhythm of an exchange and place his opponent in the unenviable situation of always being a ‘day late and a dollar short’. Using this action and reaction principle Xande is able to set the pace, and maintain efficiency of movement and energy.
So, how does Xande transition from closed guard to side guard? Action/reaction.
Using feints Xande will set up conservative attacks or movements that will provoke his opponent to move to one side or another and this creates an opening for the off-balancing that can be so useful in getting to side guard.
At this stage we’ve looked at two heuristics, or general principles related to side guard; efficiency and using action/reaction to create movement.
The third heuristic that Xande demonstrates really well in this video is flanking, or coming off the center line of your opponent and being able to exert your force against their weakness.
We can see Xande repeatedly not get stuck flat on the floor while deploying closed guard but instead angling against Bernardo and taking him off balance so that he can attack, sweep, or climb the torso into a high side guard, which can be deployed for further control and submissions.
Flanking has been a key military for as long as there’s been combat. Whether it’s knights on horseback flanking an infantry advance, whether it’s Marine’s deploying cover and move tactics in urban warfare, whether it’s Mike Tyson coming off the center line and coming across with a devastating hook - all are deploying the tried and tested concept of flanking.
To further understand flanking let’s see what famous Japanese Sword master Miyamoto Musashi says about flanking:
“Anyway, when it comes to battle, the idea is to chase opponents . . into an obstacle any way you can. When you get opponents to an obstacle, in order to prevent them from observing the situation, press your attack without letup so that they cannot look around.
The same thing about not letting opponents observe the situation also applies indoors, when you are chasing them into doorsills, head jambs, doors, screens, verandas, pillars or other obstacles.”
Miyamoto Musashi was victorious in over 60 life or death duels, so it’s great to see the same principle of combat, flanking, being deployed by Xande in his side guard system. Misdirection followed by pressing or holding the advantage is a powerful concept!
In the video and in the full upcoming course Xande goes into lots of details on the algorithmic element of the side guard, the actual step-by-step techniques on how to get to side guard and what attacks he would make from there. We’re really looking forward to bringing this to you so you can implement it in your own game!
Keep your eyes open for Xande’s full instructional on the closed guard and in the meantime see ‘The Diamond Concept of Defense by Xande Ribeiro’ here!