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X Guard BJJ: Basics, Sweeps & Attacks

X Guard BJJ: Basics, Sweeps & Attacks


The X Guard is one of the most popular guards in sport Jiu Jitsu today.  There are several reasons that make the X guard an incredible option for the open guard player.  The X guard has incredible sweeping power, and it is one of the best guards to play for attacking the lower body, but there are not many traditional submission opportunities from this position. 

The X guard was popularized by Marcelo Garcia who utilized its effectiveness in the highest level competition.  The benefits of the X guard include how functional it is in both gi and nogi, the high percentage sweep success, leg lock attacks, and the defense.  There are a few submissions that may present themselves from X guard, but at the highest levels of competition, it is rare to see them.

X Guard in Gi and NoGi

The X guard is an incredible option for the open guard player because it is very transferable from gi to nogi or vice-versa.  Popularized by Marcelo Garcia, he has proven how functional the X guard can be in gi and nogi by winning 5 Black Belt World Championships in the gi, and 4 ADCC gold medals. Marcelo has utilized the X guard frequently in the highest levels of gi and nogi competition. 

It is great to learn because it is not an extremely grip dependent guard, the difficult part for learning the X guard is finding the position and developing good set ups to get there.  If you want to see some great set ups and options from the X guard, check out our post “Great X guard Techniques,” also check out this highlight of Marcelo Garcia and how often he uses X guard sweeps below!

X Guard and Sweep Success

The X guard is one of the best and most successful guards to sweep your opponent from.  The X Guard puts you directly underneath your opponent and allows you to use your legs and arms to compromise their balance.  At the highest levels of competition, X guard is one of the most successful guards to sweep from.  Although there are not many submission opportunities from X guard, there are extremely amazing sweeps.

 There are only a few sweeps you need to learn in order to have an effective X guard, and once you learn them, it is about timing.  Once you get into the X guard, you have to immediately explode into a sweep and constantly off balance your opponent.  It is not a guard you want to “stall” or “sit in.”  Some of the X guard sweeps are nearly unstoppable, check out this simple sweep shown by the X guard king, Marcelo Garcia below.

X Guard For Lower Body Attacks

The X guard may be one of the best guards to play if you are trying to attack the lower body.  Lower body attacks have exploded with popularity in the last few years.  There are several contributing factors that have made the lower body attacks so popular lately.  There are many submission only tournaments that are giving grapplers and opportunity to perform like professional athletes.  Tournaments like the Eddie Bravo Invitational, Metamoris, Fight to Win and other have given us a platform to utilize leg reaps and heel hooks. 

The increasing popularity of leg reaps and heel hooks has not only led to an increase in lower body attacks but it has also led to a dramatic increase of opportunity from the X Guard.  The x guard is one of the best places to get to the heel hook, the toe hold, the knee bar, and many other attacks.  Prior to the introduction of a lot of these tournaments we did not even get to see the X guard being used to its true potential. 

In the X guard you are completely underneath your opponent and this will allow you to elevate them and attempt to get some leg locks.  The X guard also goes hand in hand with the single leg X Guard which may be the absolute best position for leg locks.  These two guards supplement each other very well.  If you are aspiring to become the next Gordon Ryan and want to learn some leg locks, one of the best places to start you adventure would be with the single leg x guard and the x guard.  Both of these positions are the most promising for attacking the lower body. 

X Guard Defense Benefits

The X guard is also a very useful guard for the open guard player because you are relatively safe in this position.  There are not many passing options from the X guard if applied correctly, and there are not many submissions or back take counters your opponent can apply from the inside your X guard.

 For example, in the half guard, a strong guy may be able to Kimura, Americana, or Ezekiel Choke you, but in X guard they don’t have submission options.  Also, from De La Riva, they may be able to counter with Toe Holds, Knee Bars, or rolling back takes, but from X guard, for the most part, you can be safe. 

The difficult part about learning the X guard is finding a way to get into the position, once you learn good set ups, you should try to implement it into your game!  If you want to see some set ups from De La Riva to x guard and some submissions from X guard, check out this video below of the Mendes Bros teaching some.

If you want to develop a complex guard system with a lot of lower body attacks we just released the most anticipated bjj instructional of all time in the John Danaher Enter the System DVD Set.  This is also available as a digital download and stream.  Check it out below.

“If you haven’t felt a John Danaher heel hook then you haven’t really lived.” Gordon Ryan - July 18th, 2017



If you enjoyed reading X guard overview, consider checking other articles:

X guard

Single leg X guard

X guard entry

X guard techniques


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