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The Sneaky Spider Guard
The bane of fingers, spider guard is one of the most versatile guards in jiu jitsu. Because it readily lends itself to transitions to other guards, and because of its potential to offer guard players entries to sweeps and submissions, developing a sound spider guard can be time well invested for any jiu jitsu practitioner interested in competition.
Of course, devoting significant time to spider guard is useless for MMA fighters, and is of limited value to the ever exclusive “street self defense” jiu jitsu practitioners, but strictly for sportive activities and to learn how to use an opponent’s sleeves as a weapon; spider guard is a superior tool.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this guard that makes it so effective is that it is one of the few open guards that really offer the guard player significant and substantial control over their opponent. The tension and counterbalance caused by pulling the sleeve while pressing upwards or outwards with the foot provides for tremendous control and dominance even though the opponent’s hips are not under control like many other guards.
Another aspect of spider guard that makes it so superior is the option of the leg lasso. A leg lasso is when the guard player wraps their leg under and then over the opponent’s arm hooking behind the opponent’s elbow for control. Many world champions have built their careers around their ability to use the leg lasso.
If you are interested in learning a bit more about the leg lasso check out this video put together by Mikal Abdullah
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the spider guard is that it’s open. It is the “broadest” guard in that sense. When an opponent goes to pass, the guard player can follow that opponent with their feet because of the fact that their feet are not limited in their position as they would be in other guards. This may not seem like a crucial point but it is, and it allows the guard player a far greater degree of mobility.
Similarly, unlike other guards, the spider guard relies on the soles of the feet as a point of contact. Physics teaches that the longer the lever the more potential force can be generated. When a jiu jitsu practitioner learns spider guard they should remember that their feet are now the end of the lever. Other guards place opponents past the knee, spider places them at the farthest extremity.
Because of spider’s openness the guard player can readily transition to De La Riva or full guard, or even butterfly, X and Deep Half guard as desired. The opponent’s attempts at regaining their balance will ultimately dictate which guard is appropriate for transition, but the transitions are always plentiful from spider guard.
Also, the opponent’s movements will be predictable, there are only certain things that can be done to intelligently address spider guard, and therefore the guard player can learn to predict where the other person is going to go and what they’re going to do because of the connection at the arms. Simply put having one’s feet on the crooks of an opponent’s arms provides a guard player a heightened degree of sensitivity and understanding of that person’s intentions and potential movement.
Yet another detail about spider guard that makes it so effective is that it allows smaller practitioners to use their quickness and it allows larger practitioners to better utilize their weight. Most guards encumber a smaller practitioner because they allow the opponent to have their weight in contact the guard player’s chest/hips, spider guard however allows the guard player to maintain and control the distance. This is important because in order for one’s jiu jitsu to be effective there must be options for opponents of every size and shape.
Learning spider guard can be daunting, but Romulo Barral has built his game around the powerful set of techniques he developed for his spider guard. His leg lasso is legendary and he has beaten many opponents with submissions that he sets up from his spider guard. Check out his DVD series on the subject