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The Value of a Good Closed Guard
The Original Guard Still Has Its Place In BJJ...
For many years, the closed guard was considered to be one of the dominant positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For the naïve, being in the closed guard can be dangerous due to the extensive amount of control, sweep options, and submission options present.
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Recently, however, the closed guard has become ignored and is treated as an ineffective position, especially at high level grappling tournaments. Many high ranking students will often open their closed guard in favor of playing an open guard. In my opinion, the closed guard can still be a dominant position whether it is in competition, MMA, or self-defense.
Interestingly, my closed guard did not develop until my late blue belt years. After a return to focusing on the closed guard because I felt I was uncomfortable in the position, I was able to create a guard that was dangerous against even high ranking students.
I recall competing in a local tournament after spending some time focusing on the closed guard and I was able to submit numerous opponents in basic submissions. This was an important reminder to me about the effectiveness of this often-ignored position.
I will admit, however, the developing a good closed guard is rather difficult because the defender is very aware of all the potential attacks. Because of this, individual techniques are actually not what is important in a good closed guard, it is transitions and proper timing.
In regards to self defense, having a strong and effective closed guard is extremely important. It is the safest position to use when on your back while someone is attacking you. Done properly, it can significantly impede many strikes and exhaust the attacker as well.
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I always recommend new students spend an ample amount of time focusing on this position. Not only is it very effective if done well, but it also provides many important lessons about proper technique, leverage, wedges, and other elements of Jiu Jitsu that make it what it is.
If you are student that is a blue belt and above and have been ignoring the closed guard, I highly recommend return to the position and spend a few months developing it. Even if you still do not enjoy the position, having a good closed guard will always be better than having a bad one.
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