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Types Of Guard In BJJ
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Types Of Guard In BJJ

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As a white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you are caught in a deluge of new terms.

Positions, sweeps, submissions...they’re all said casually around the gym and you feel so out place not knowing what they are. If you’re like me, you make mental notes and try to use context clues to figure out what people are talking about until you finally start to connect the term with the action. Guard is such an important concept in grappling, yet one that has so many variations that it’s hard to figure out which one to use! Here are a few of the most commonly used guard positions, so next time you’re in class and your professor tells you that this week you’ll be working on sweeps from X-guard you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about! 

What this article covers:

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Jiu Jitsu Guard: The Defensive and Offensive Keystone

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) stands out in the world of martial arts, largely due to its emphasis on ground fighting. Central to this ground game is the "jiu jitsu guard". This position not only exemplifies BJJ's approach but also showcases the art's dynamism. While on their back, a practitioner employs the guard as a bulwark against an opponent, but it also acts as a launchpad for various offensive tactics, making it both a shield and a sword.

What is Guard in Jiu Jitsu?

As newcomers enter the BJJ world, the guard is often a novel concept. So, what exactly is the guard in jiu-jitsu? It's more than just a position; it's a philosophy. Unlike many combat sports, where being on the ground, especially on your back, is a compromised position, BJJ turns this notion on its head. The guard is where a practitioner controls an opponent using their legs, all the while scouting for openings to sweep (reverse positions) or to apply joint locks and chokes.

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Guard BJJ: A Position of Power and Strategy

When discussing the "guard BJJ" stance, it's essential to understand its strategic depth. Some martial artists initially view the guard as purely defensive, but seasoned BJJ practitioners recognize its offensive potential. From the guard, a practitioner can stall a more aggressive opponent, control their movements, or launch attacks of their own. Moreover, it provides a safety net, allowing a player to manage distance and protect against strikes or powerful submissions.

Different Guards in BJJ: An Overview

BJJ's adaptability and evolution over the years are best demonstrated in the variety of guard types. The term "different guards in BJJ" refers to a spectrum of positions tailored to specific situations, strategies, and body types. Each variation has unique mechanics, offering distinct advantages depending on the practitioner's intent and the opponent's reactions.

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BJJ Guard Types: Adapting and Evolving

The myriad "BJJ guard types" available to practitioners showcases the art's adaptability. As new techniques emerge, so too do guard variations. This continual evolution ensures BJJ remains fresh, challenging, and engaging. Whether one is a competitor seeking an edge or a hobbyist looking to explore new horizons, understanding and mastering various guards is essential.

BJJ Guards List: Exploring the Many Variations

A comprehensive "BJJ guards list" would be extensive due to the art's complexity and evolution. However, here are some noteworthy examples:

Closed Guard: This foundational guard sees the bottom player wrapping their legs around the opponent, keeping them close. It's a position ripe for numerous submissions and sweeps.

Half Guard: Here, only one of the opponent's legs is trapped. It's a pivotal guard, acting as a bridge to other positions and offering numerous offensive opportunities.

Spider Guard: A gi-specific guard, the spider involves gripping an opponent's sleeves while placing feet on their biceps. It offers great control and sets up various sweeps and submissions.

Butterfly Guard: With feet hooked inside the opponent's thighs, this guard allows for powerful sweeps and mobility.

De La Riva: Named after its creator, this guard involves a deep hook on one leg while controlling the distant arm or leg, perfect for setting up sweeps and back takes.

Guard Retention Is INSTRUMENTAL In Your Progression! Click Learn More below!

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1) Closed

Closed guard is often the first type of guard you will learn as a beginner in Jiu Jitsu. Your opponent is locked between your legs, with your feet crossed behind their back. It provides a great place to set up sweeps and submissions while breaking down your opponents posture. In Jiu Jitsu it can be a place to rest, but if you are competing in MMA or any sport where striking is involved you must be able to control the other person’s head so they aren’t able to develop distance and power for punches. 

2) Open

There are many variations of guard that can be filed under the umbrella term of “open guard”, but the “standard” open guard position is when your feet are not locked around your opponent and at least one of your feet is braced on their hips. Having one or two feet on the hips produces the ability to control distance. 

3) Half guard

Half guard refers to the person on the bottom, where as half mount in the person on top. The distinguishing factor of this position is that you have one of your legs between your opponents and the other on the outside (and the same for the person on top). Often your legs are closed or triangled around their thigh, with multiple variations of hand holds. Half guard is a great transition position and helpful for taking the back, coming to your knees or moving into side control. 

 4) Butterfly

Butterfly guard involves both feet to be between your opponents legs, with the tops of your feet wrapped around the back of their thighs ( which looks like butterfly wings). This is an active guard and not one to use for a resting position. Often, it is used to set up sweeps or leg locks since you are already sitting up. Typically, this isn’t a place you would hunt for submissions, but rather one you would use to set up a transition. 

5) X guard

Basic X guard occurs when one leg is hooked at the knee and one is hooked into the groin area up towards the hip. The most beneficial aspect of this guard is that it creates a great way to get your opponent off balance so a sweep is easier to complete. Multiple body types can succeed with this position and it can be applied when your partner is both standing and sitting, making it very versatile. 

Let John Danaher Teach You The Ins and Outs Of How To Properly Retain Your Guard! Click Learn More below! 

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 6) Z guard

Z guard puts one leg across your opponents body, like a knee shield, and the other (bottom leg) hooked between the top players legs. This is another distance creating position by way of the knee shield pushing into their chest or hip. You can succeed in sweeps or submissions from this position. This guard can be used in both gi and nogi; in a gi you typically hold the cross collar with your top hand and the sleeve with your bottom hand, while in nogi you grab a collar tie or frame their neck with your top hand and the wrist with your bottom. 

Professor John Danaher is here with his DVD on guard retention. It is sure to elevate your game, and INSTANTLY improve your guard. Check out the DVD "Guard Retention: BJJ Fundamentals - Go Further Faster" and get the info you need to improve! Check it out here!

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