Understanding Guard Retention
It seems that the aspect of Jiu Jitsu new students struggle with the most, on average, is guard retention. I know I did. Guard retention is unique in grappling because unlike submissions, sweeps, and guard passes, it does not place too much emphasis on specific techniques. In fact, I don’t recall the last time in class where we practiced specific techniques for guard retention that weren’t just positional escapes.
Never Have Your Guard Passed Again & Sharpen Up Your Back Takes Like Never Before – Taught By The Most Accomplished American Grappler Of All Time
So if guard retention isn’t techniques like every other aspect our sport, what is it? Guard retention is movement based. That’s pretty vague, but it’s true. It is the small specific movements you do while defending your guard that we comprehensively call guard retention. Some of the moves are fast, small, and even invisible while others are more elaborate like inverting and granby rolling.
Guard retention, especially in the open guard, should start with you sitting up one your butt rather than lying flat. By starting flat on your back, you are already taking away so much from your entire guard. Watch the following video in which Tom Deblass explains this concept and gives a little more detail into why it is important.
The seated position can be used in a lot of different places and not just shin-on-shin guard. The most obvious use of it is in butterfly guard, but it can also be used occasionally when playing half guard, butterfly half, and even de la riva guard. You should make it a priority that anytime you get the opportunity to get into a seated position, that you actually go for it.
So how do you get better at guard retention? Drills, drills, and more drills! The majority of the movements utilized in guard retention can be made into drills, and an emphasis on doing so should be a must. The most simple drill literally every grappler does is shrimping down the mat. Shrimping accounts for 50% or more of guard retention.
As a smaller grappler with long legs, I like to invert a lot, so I do inversion drills down the mat as well. This is not to say big guys can’t invert, you just need to practice. Leg pummeling is also vital for open guard retention and is something we forget to drill when we become blue or purple belts. Again, in order to becomes better at guard retention, you need to drill, and drill often.
Mikey shows all his best guard tactics, traps, and attacks as he leads you through a guard player masterclass! Mike, who is not only a genius on the mat but in the classroom as well, has turned Jiu Jitsu into his own laboratory. He understands that the best way to retain your guard is to learn how to stop every pass! He will tell you, as if you are there… the tips and tricks to stop every pass. Once you know how, all you have to do is do it!
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