The Secret to the Guard

8 03 2011

The guard is one of the most versatile positions in all of martial arts. It is so dynamic that the options are limitless. The guard, however, has many different forms. Each variation has its own strengths and weaknesses. To begin, there are two main types of guards: closed guard and open guard. However, open guard is a very loose term and many different forms of guard are derived from the open guard position. Although each guard is very much different, there are several key details that can make or break each one’s effectiveness.  These details are very simple, yet are essential to establishing and maintaining an effective guard.

To start off with there are so many different forms of guard that a list is in order. The different forms of guard include but are not limited to: closed, half, butterfly, 93, x-guard, spider, de la riva, turtle, tornado, 50-50, inverted, and high guard to name a few. Each one has a wide range of attacks and counters. Each, however, maintain a common theme: they all require substantial hip movement. This is one of the first secrets to having a dynamic guard. Hip movement is key when playing any form of guard. The hips are the most powerful tool in one’s body. By moving the hips, one can pull his or her opponent of balance, force them to make a mistake, and even submit them. Hip movement is key!

The second secret to the guard is very simple: you have to stay active! Activity is something that sounds simple, but takes many training hours to fully grasp its implications. The active guard is an aggressive guard and the aggressive guard is a dangerous guard. The statement “The best defense is a strong offense” truly has meaning with respect to the guard. The best way to prevent someone from passing your guard is to stay active and always keep threatening with both sweeps and attacks. If your opponent has to constantly be worried about your attacks, then they can’t rightly focus on passing. So while playing the guard… Stay active!

The final secret to the guard is grips. You must maintain strong grips if you wish to play guard. These grips can vary in position from collar control, sleeve control, to pant control depending on what you wish to accomplish. However, wherever you choose to place your grips, they should have one thing in common – they must be strong and violent. Holding onto a sleeve is simply not good enough. If your opponent can still move that limb around, then it is doing little good. You must be able to control that sleeve and manipulate it as you need. Working on building your grip strength is a great way to help improve your guard game. Build those grips!

To recap, there are three essential secrets to having a fully dynamic and effective guard. The first is hip movement. Make sure to keep moving your hips to through your opponent off balance. The second is activity. By staying active you make it nearly impossible for your opponent not to defend what you are doing and therefore unable to set up any sort of guard passing. The third and final secret is grips. Make sure you are able to gain and maintain strong and violent grips. Your opponent should have a very difficult time simply getting rid of your grips. Improving these three characteristics of your game will drastically improve your guard, whichever you may choose to play.


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