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The Two Best Submissions To Learn From Closed Guard

The Two Best Submissions To Learn From Closed Guard


The closed guard has long been considered the foundation of the guard, there are several reasons that people perceive the closed guard as the foundation.  The closed guard is one of the most versatile positions, you can have success with it in both gi and no gi, you can use it in MMA, self-defense, and grappling competitions.  The closed guard also allows the bjj practitioner to have a solid foundation of core movements in bjj, and an understanding of various submission in bjj.

What we mean by this is that you can do so many submissions in closed guard and gain a basic understanding of how they work.  For example, you can do the arm bar, the guillotine, the kimura, the triangle, the wrist lock, and many others.  When you learn these from closed guard you will learn what it takes to finish these submissions and you will see how they work.  With all of these submissions that you can learn from closed guard, what are the best?

Well, we believe that the best submissions to learn depend on what you are good at, but if you don’t know any and are just starting to develop your game, the best two submissions to learn from closed guard are the triangle choke and the arm bar.  Why these? Well, we are going to discuss a multitude of reasons as to why it is most beneficial to learn these.  If you are just starting to learn the closed guard, check out our article “Closed Guard, The Foundation of The Guard.”

The Triangle Choke From Closed Guard

The triangle choke from closed guard may be one of the best submissions period.  This is because of its effectiveness, its versatility, the ability to chain other submissions to it, and the endless entries.  Let’s start with the simple fact that the triangle choke is an extremely effective submission. We have seen the triangle executed at the highest levels of bjj competition, and MMA, we have also seen this executed in self-defense scenarios.  There have been dozens of triangle choke finishes in the UFC and the Black Belt World Championships, so we know it works. 

The triangle is also very versatile.  What we are referring to when we use the term versatility is the fact that you can use the triangle in gi, no gi, MMA, and self-defense.  It does not matter the rule set, the tournament, or the environment, the triangle will work.  This is what gives this position excellent versatility.  Going beyond the use of the triangle from closed guard you can also use the triangle from several other guards, while passing, while passes, and even while standing. If the only move that you have in your arsenal is the triangle choke from closed guard but you are the best at it, it will take you very far.

The triangle from the closed guard is also an excellent position to chain other submissions to.  The first chain of attacks that many people learn is either arm bar to triangle or triangle to arm bar.  When you have someone in a triangle you can transition effortlessly to other submissions.  You can go from a triangle to an arm bar, to a wrist lock, kimura, shoulder lock, baratoplata, omoplata, and many other submissions.  This is one of the biggest benefits to mastering the triangle from closed guard and one of the many reasons we chose this as one of our best submissions from closed guard.

Our last reason for choosing this submission is the fact that the entries are easy and endless.  What do we mean by this?  Well, many times the hardest part of doing a submission is getting into the position.  The triangle from closed guard has so many different entries.  There are literally hundreds of ways to get into the triangle from the closed guard alone, and not only are there endless entries, your opponent may present the triangle to you.  Many people get caught in triangle choke when trying to pass the guard, they often give you the triangle.  If you’re having problems finishing the triangle choke, check out this great breakdown of different finishes with Neil Melanson below.

The Arm Bar From Closed Guard

The arm bar from closed guard may also be one of the best submissions period.  For almost all the same reason as the triangle the arm bar from closed guard is one of the best closed guard submissions because of its versatility, effectiveness, ability to chain attacks and the endless entries.  When considering what submissions to mater it may be wise to think about how many positions this submission can be used from, whether you can use it gi/no gi and whether it is effective for self-defense and MMA.  The arm bar is a submission that fall into all of those categories.  Let’s start by discussing the effectiveness.

The arm bar has long been one of the most popular submissions at the highest levels of both gi and no gi grappling.  We have seen arm bars executed successfully at the black belt world championships on multiple occasions and we have seen it executed at the ADCC so many times.  Not only have we seen the arm bar from closed guard at the highest levels of gi and no gi but we have also seen it dozens of times in the UFC.  Nate and Nick Diaz, Royce Gracie, BJ Penn and many other household names have one countless MMA bouts with arm bars from closed guard.  We know it works.

All of that being said, the arm bar from closed guard is also one of the most versatile submissions.  Just like the triangle, you can use the arm bar from closed guard in gi and no gi, in MMA and self-defense and from many other places in bjj.  For example, the arm bar from spider is great, the arm bar from side control, knee on belly, mount and back control are all great submissions.  This is why it is wise to master the arm bar from closed guard, you will use the finishing details of the arm bar from everywhere.

The arm bar is also an excellent submission to chain other attacks to it.  Just like the triangle, when you get the arm bar from closed guard you can use it to sweep, take the back, get a triangle, get a kimura, an attack many other submissions.  The difference between the arm bar and triangle is the fact that you are able to sweep with the arm bar so easily because you have an arm completely isolated.

The last reason that we ranked the arm bar as one of the two best submissions from closed guard is the fact that like the triangle, you have endless entries. There is literally an endless amount of entries to this submission and this is important because some submissions are very difficult to find. Check out this arm bar set up from closed guard below with Dan Covel. 

There you have, the two best submissions from closed guard are the arm bar and the triangle choke.  Given the versatility, effectiveness, ability to chain attacks, and endless entries, these are extremely practical submissions to learn and master.  We are not saying that there is not other submissions some people may master better.  For example, Bernardo Faria has the best omoplata in the world from closed guard, this is just a submission that made sense for him.  Everyone is different but if you are a beginner, it is wise to master the arm bar and triangle.

If you would like to learn some very high-level arm bar and triangle set ups along with other closed guard attacks, check out Bernardo Farias’ DVD “Closed Guard.”  Bernardo is not known for his closed guard but his is absolutely amazing at the closed guard.


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