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Z GUARD BJJ
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Z GUARD BJJ

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In the modern form of grappling athletes have strayed away from the traditional styles of technique. The days of old where a competitor would only use the bjj half guard, or the jiu jitsu closed guard have become obsolete. With the rise of No Gi grappling, and the international notoriety of competitions like the ADCC, Who's Number One, and Fight 2 Win, competitors are using some much more advanced systems of innovative guard practises. Many world class athletes like Eddie Bravo, Keenan Cornelius, Craig Jones, Gordon Ryan, and Lachlan Giles have all added significant developments within the guard systems of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

What this article covers:

The new era of grappling has brought with it a more modern day combat athlete. The age of the guard passer is definitely becoming a harder challenge for many athletes, as the innovations of brand new guards like the worm guard, the 50/50 guard, the bjj rubber guard, and the z guard are taking centre stage. The z guard has become a weapon of choice for dangerous new athletes like Craig Jones, and Lachlan Giles. This extensive guard is quite sophisticated, and has an abundance of technical components that can be utilised. This guard has commonly been mistaken for the knee shield guard, but with the intricate stylings of the z guard, this comprehensive guard system is fast becoming one of the best guards to access the leg entanglement bjj game.

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WHAT IS THE Z GUARD

The z guard is an innovative guard system that does look quite similar to a knee shield guard. To access the z guard a student will secure the half guard position, where their bottom leg is hooked deep inside of their opponent's closest leg. Their top leg will then move into a knee shield, blocking the near hip of their opponent, as both of their feet are connected.

Craig Jones is one of the premier submission grapplers on the planet today!  Known for his creative guard games, THE Z GUARD ENCYCLOPEDIA is a must for any guard player and is available now at BJJFanatics.com!

z guard jiu jitsu

An important tip to remember is that a student's knee should be situated on top of their opponent's thigh, so their ankles can reach for connection. This will help to prevent their opponent from compromising their guard structure. The z guard uses a stronger structure than the knee shield, as it becomes extensively harder for the opponent to crush the student's knees together. Another important tip for successfully utilising the z guard is for the student to lift their opponent's leg with their bottom hook, and to push their opponent's hips with their top knee. Using this tip will force an opponent to sit back onto the heels, and therefore giving the guard player a greater avenue to attack sweeps, or submissions.

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THE CREATION OF THE Z GUARD

It is hard to say who actually deserves the credit for the creation of the z guard, as it seems to be a culmination of widespread development through the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Many practitioners like Marcelo Garcia, Xande Ribeiro, Felipe Pena, and Dean Lister were already utilising guard systems like the knee shield, the shin guard, and the diamond guard bjj systems, so naturally the evolution of the z guard was always on the horizon. Two of the most recognised newcomer athletes are Craig Jones, and Lachlan Giles, and these Australian superstars have burst onto the scene of No Gi grappling. Before Craig Jones joined John Danaher's death squad, or founded B Team Jiu Jitsu, he trained in Melbourne Australia, alongside his friend and mentor Lachlan Giles. Together these two phenomenal Jiu Jitsu athletes mastered the z guard, as they both have extensive instructional videos on bjjfanatics.com. These videos have detailed information on how to utilise all aspects of the z guard. If watching their success on the international No Gi grappling scene is anything to go by, then it is no wonder that students all over the world are lining up to access instructional content on the z guard.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GUARD INNOVATION 

The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has grown in leaps and bounds, from one innovation to the next, as many high level athletes are developing the art in spectacular fashion. The old traditional system of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is now obsolete, as the art in its entirety has grown exponentially due to the significance of guard systems that are currently in play. Looking back to when Roberto Gordo Correa developed the half guard to become an attacking weapon, all this did was start an avalanche of future athletes whipping out their innovation within the sport. This became highly important for the art of Jiu Jitsu, as an abundance of guard techniques are highly accessible to all Jiu Jitsu practitioners. Systems like the gubber guard, the lasso guard, and the rat guard bjj game have become highly important to the always evolving technical components of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Even though there are many traditional practitioners that don't like change, the importance of the evolution of the guard game has made significant inroads, and has truly raised the level of skill within the art far beyond its expectations.

SETTING UP SUBMISSIONS

The z guard is a comprehensive system that allows a practitioner to access a wide range of submission maneuvers. Like all Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guard positions, the arm bar is one of the best submissions to go for from using the z guard. If an opponent tries to put forward pressure on a practitioner's z guard, then the first reaction is to apply a cross face. At the same time pulling their opponent's shoulder down using their other hand. This will break down their opponents posture, as the practitioner will swing their leg in applying the knee shield over their head, while maintaining their opponent's shoulder low towards the mat. It is important to remember to keep their head facing forward, as this will help to secure the arm in the best position to apply the joint lock. From this position a practitioner can thread their foot straight inside for the arm bar. What makes this submission so great is that a practitioner does not have to remove their bottom leg from the half guard to finish the arm bar.

Another good submission to attack from the z guard is the kimura. The easy way to secure this submission is to control an opponent's far wrist with the student's bottom arm, while they use their top arm to frame on the far shoulder. From this position the student will push into their opponent, and as they feel the push back they will shoot their leg through, and move their body towards the far arm. Their top arm will then slot through, catching their own wrist into a kimura grip. The student will then fall back onto the mat, as they use their top leg to thread into a butterfly hook, and their bottom leg hooking deep into the half guard. From here they can just bend the arm up behind their opponent's back to get the tap. Another option is to drop their bottom leg to the mat, and using the ball of their foot, and their butterfly hook to flip their opponent over their shoulder. From here it is important to maintain pressure through the kimura grip to get their opponent grounded, and wait for them to escape. Once the opponent tries to sit up the student will shoot their knee in the gap, take their back and look to finish a rear naked, or a military choke.

Another important option is to set up their opponent in a triangle. This technique is extremely effective and simple to execute. Starting from the z guard the student will secure an over hook on the same side as the z lock. Their other hand will continue to frame until it can secure their opponent's free hand, feeding it to the students over hook hand. The student will now control both of their opponents arms with an over hook, and a wrist grip. Now the student can unhook their bottom leg, and shoot it over the neck of their opponent. From here they can let go of the wrist grip, and grab hold of their own shin, as they lock up the triangle mechanism. To finish the choke they will bridge their hips up so they can move their under hooked arm underneath their throat, before applying the squeeze.

One of the more modern submission set ups is a z guard entry, into a heel hook from the saddle position. The student will start off with a strong z guard, as they dive in with their bottom arm scooping under their opposite leg. From here the student inverts onto their bottom shoulder, driving their knee across the hip of their opponent, as they move their bottom leg from out of the z lock, and onto the opposite thigh. The students free hand scoops under the heel, as they keep their opponent's knee on the mat. Moving the heel sideways, while the student also uses their bottom leg to push the thigh, their opponent will land into a perfect saddle position. Once the student lands here they can secure the heel grip and finish the heel hook. The leg lock game has become an extremely powerful weapon in the modern age of grappling. 

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Z GUARD SWEEPS

The z guard is more reliable than the knee shield, and this is because the lock involved is more comprehensive. Having greater control of an opponent's leg, and hip will make them easier to unbalance, and susceptible to a sweep. An easy technique to know is to secure hold of the wrist closest to the z lock, pushing it down towards their belly. Meanwhile their other hand is framing to keep distance, before slipping their bottom legs hook over the opposite side of their opponent's calf. From here they move out their top knee from the hip, and squeeze onto their opponent's thigh with both legs. The next step is all about timing, because as the opponent tries to drop their hip, and slot into a cross face, the student will move their hips inwards, while pinching their thighs together, catching the under hook and easily rolling them over into an advantageous position.

Another good sweep involves using a little bit of a lasso on the opponent’s arm. As the opponent threads an arm in between the z lock to try and smash open the guard, the student will grab hold of the sleeve grip, securing a lasso on their arm. From here the student will take a grip on their opponent's pants with their other hand, and explosively move their own hips over onto their back, pulling the lasso down, and lifting the pants up. This will create enough tension through the opponent, forcing them to be rolled over, as the student punches their opponent's leg away, and maneuvering into a side control position. This is an easy sweep to learn, and can be unexpected by an opponent, as it may catch them off guard.

Another good sweep is called the rainbow sweep, and this involves transferring the weight of their opponent from one side to the other. The first step from the z guard is to take a far side lapel grip with their top hand, and a far side sleeve grip with their bottom hand, as they slide their knee shield higher up into their opponent's shoulder. From here the student will switch the sleeve grip over to their top hand, while their bottom hand reaches down and takes a grip on their opponent's pants. The student then uses their knee shield to push their opponent away, and as soon as they push back, the student will circle their arm over towards the z lock transferring their weight, and exposing the opponent into a sideways position. Finally to finish the sweep the student will kick up with their knee shield, and roll their opponent over their own head, and follow the movement into a control position.

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HOW TO DEFEND THE Z GUARD

Defending the z guard can prove considerably difficult, as an opponent has quite an extensive control of a student's leg, and hip. One method of defense that works extremely well against this position is a tripod pass. The student will need to step up into a tripod position, as they secure a hip grip on their opponent. Their bottom hand will grab hold of the bottom leg of the z guard, as they push pressure into them. Lifting up the bottom knee will have a significant effect on the z lock, as the student uses their own knee to shift the angle of their opponent's leg, before leg pummeling over the top of their shin. The student will then drop their other knee to the mat and switch the weight onto their opposite hip, and maneuver into a side control position. This is a totally functional pass that can be extremely effective against any sized opponent.

Craig Jones is one of the premier submission grapplers on the planet today!  Known for his creative guard games, THE Z GUARD ENCYCLOPEDIA is a must for any guard player and is available now at BJJFanatics.com!

bjj z guard

Defending the z guard will start to become about instincts, as a student will feel the changes in angle from their opponent. Sometimes the right movements will often feed into an opponent's trap, so it pays to move with caution, and be ready for anything. The concept behind breaking the z guard is all about pulling their opponent's legs together, as this will stifle a strong z guard. Once a student can open the connection between the legs, it becomes easy to pressure pass through the guard, or step out and try to move technically past the guard. Backing away may not always be a good option, as this may feed into their opponent's plan B. The essence of a good guard pass is taking away an opponent's space, so diving in and switching hips is a good way to secure control positions. 

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