Why Pulling Guard Is Not A Bad Thing
Pulling guard in Jiu Jitsu has gotten a bad rap lately. While I definitely see the concerns of why it is negative, I also would be a fool not to see the positive of it either. The main issue that people have with guard pullers is that they want to stall the action and try to eek by on advantages in competition. That may be true for some, but wholly incorrect for the majority of people that pull guard. There are some really important reasons on why to pull guard and how it can benefit those style of players.
The most obvious reason to pull guard is if you are facing a superior wrestler. For many Jiu Jitsu practitioners, while they train takedowns, that there is a high risk/low reward on trying to out-wrestle a good wrestler. A good wrestler will be able to hit takedowns at will and get dominant positions on you. If it is a tournament with points, you also can easily lose a match that way. By pulling guard, you can take away those possible points and positions out of the equation, and make your opponent engage in a ground battle from inside your guard. You can make put your opponent in a position where they do not want to fight out of, which is the full guard.
And that brings me to the next point. If you are dangerous off of your back, from your guard, then it only makes sense to use it. There are some awesome guard specialists who can end a match in a matter of seconds when they gain that position. So by logic, it makes sense to pull an opponent into the guard and make use of the best techniques in their arsenal. It is important to not be goaded into playing someone else’s game. When you do that, you leave yourself open to beating beaten. Don’t let yourself be beaten easy, when you have a great strength at your disposal.
Going off of the last point, you can even use your guard to get on top. You can be a great top player on the ground, but with your takedown skills not as strong as your mat skills. Pulling guard, and hitting a sweep can get you on top. How is that detrimental? It is not. Some people will try to denounce it as less since you didn’t hit a throw or a double leg, but if you got on top, you did the same thing, just different. Having a strong sweeping game is important if you want to pull guard. The Miyao brothers, Paulo and Joao are known for this. Against the best black belts in the world, they will pull guard, hit a berimbolo and get their opponent’s back where they get the finish. Effective and strategic.
But pulling guard does not necessarily always meaning going to full guard. Some competitors will sit down to butterfly and work a whole other series of sweeps or leg lock attacks. By doing this, you give your opponent two options. Either he can engage and you can play your game, or he can run away/stall which can get him in trouble with the ref’s. Being aggressive with butterfly is needed if that is the guard you want to play. Eddie Cummings is the best example of this. He starts matches by sitting right to butterfly and immediately starts going for his variety of leg attacks and he is successful with it. In this match against Nathan Orchard, he starts by pulling butterfly, and puts Nathan on the defense almost the entire match.
I am not saying to neglect the stand up grappling aspect of Jiu Jitsu. You need to train it to be the best possible Jiu Jitsu competitor you can be. But at the same time, it is not smart to ignore one’s particular strengths. Train it all and know when to use those strategies. Just do not let anyone put you down, if you like to work your guard. These techniques and positions exist for a reason, and can be used in the ways that we know best.