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Z Guard Armbar by Craig Jones
You may have found yourself falling into the Z guard by accident during live training. This highly effective version of the guard is pretty user friendly and has many utilities. It’s a favorite of some top-level practitioners and it continues to evolve at a high rate.
The Z guard looks somewhat like a half-guard variation. There are a couple of properties that set it apart, and you can definitely feel the beneficial elements of the position when you’re in it. It seems to create a great barrier between you and your opponent, and for me, is quite effective when trying to keep larger training partners from coming forward too quickly by keeping their hips at bay.
I think one of the great details here is in the control of the position. Craig explains the two positions of the knee. In the first variation the knee rides closer to the hip socket, which I prefer. But there is a critical detail Craig reveals if you plan to use the knee shield more traditionally and place it higher up on your opponents’ body. You’ll see his left foot curl over his partners left leg. This prevents him from standing up too easily and dismantling the guard. With the addition of proper framing, you’ll have constructed a nice wall that gives us time to bring our attacks to fruition.
However, in this video Craig’s training partner achieves a cross face, which in many cases can be quite an annoyance. But Craig uses the cross face to set up a very cool arm bar. The leg work here is genius. If you’ve ever tried to throw your leg over the top in Z, or half-guard before, you’ll almost certainly run into the same problem Craig does in this video. His opponent is hugging his hip, keeping his leg from being able to swing over the top. Craig demonstrates a great answer to this particular roadblock, that’s worth committing to memory. He then finishes the technique with a solid armbar. The devil is in the details here. This is a great armbar set up, but also provides some great insight in the Z guard itself. Give it a shot!