When you’re just starting out in Jiu Jitsu it’s likely one of the very first positions you learn is the closed guard. The closed guard is sort of “home” if you will. This is where we start to learn all of the fundamental techniques and movements to build a solid foundation for our Jiu Jitsu game. In the closed guard we learn to launch attacks on various parts of our opponent’s body, we learn to sweep the opponent and gain a more dominate position such as top mount, we learn so many techniques from here that we will use for years, and hopefully decades to come.
It’s likely that not long, maybe a few weeks, or a month or so after you start training from the closed guard you start to get comfortable. It’s not uncommon to start to get a little confidence here, which is great. What typically happens next is soon you are allowed to roll, or train live, or spar, whatever your academy calls it, but we are in it, no longer just drilling against a compliant training partner, now you have someone resisting your every move. This is great, and necessary for development, however, one of the first realizations is that when the opponent is allowed to resist, things change.
Now all of a sudden that arm bar from guard that you got so good at, is not so easy because the opponent is posturing up and preventing you from getting your legs where they need to go. Same goes for the triangle and many other techniques, not just submissions from the guard.
In order to have a successful closed guard, which in my opinion is a necessary fundamental building block of your Jiu Jitsu game, you must be effective at breaking your opponent’s posture, and keeping it broken. Here to help us learn the best way to do that in a No Gi situation is Renzo Gracie Black Belt, Shawn Williams in his free excerpt from his Williams Guard 3 DVD series titled “Breaking the Closed Guard Posture No Gi for White Belts”.
Please know, while we see many videos titled “tips for white belts” or “things every black belt should know”, the reality is all of these training tips and techniques can and should be taken into consideration at every level. As a higher rank, reviewing some of these tips for white belts may remind you of some fundamental details that you have lost along the way. Don’t let your ego and rank take over and remember, its all about knowledge, not the color of the belt.
Shawn was the third American to receive a black belt when Jiu Jitsu was just getting started in the United States. He and John Danaher received their black belts on the same day. I’m telling you this to say this guy has some serious knowledge and should not be dismissed.
“Closed guard is something you will need to master” – Shawn Williams
The first tip Shawn provides is details on how to use your legs. We hear people, or at least if you haven’t yet, you will hear people tell you all the time to “use your legs”…. Ok, sure, great… but how. Shawn is here to tell us exactly how. It is not enough for us to simply lock our feet behind our opponent and call that closed guard. While it may look like closed guard, it is not. In order for you to truly execute closed guard the way it was intended you must lock your legs around your opponent in such a way that your hips are not resting on the mats, but rather on top of or connected to your opponent’s hips.
Ready to add A NEW, REVOLUTIONARY Guard to your arsenal? Click Learn More!!
Next, we need the ability to use our quads to not only squeeze to keep the opponent from backing out of our guard, but also to use to pull the opponent forward to break posture, or in a self defense situation, to squeeze and push away to ensure our face is out of reach from a striking perspective. Our legs should be locked so that our knees are slightly behind the opponent’s ribs which should happen by default if our hips are in the correct position.
A typical response to closed guard from your opponent will be to put their elbows tight to their body and reinforce their posture by framing on your hips. This is rather effective and can be difficult to overcome, unless of course, you have insight from one of the most tenured black belts in the United States.
To overcome this framing in the hips Shawn simply cups behind each tricep, just above the elbow and while just pulling on the triceps will not be enough to remove these frames, when Shawn starts to shake his legs, keeping them locked while doing it, it forces his opponent to use stabilizer muscles rather than using his lat muscles to maintain the position. Now rather than it being the opponent’s lat muscles verses our lat and bicep muscles, it’s our lat and bicep muscles against the opponent’s much smaller stabilizer muscles. This will make it much easier to flair the elbows out and break the opponent’s posture down by using our legs to pull them down to our chest as soon as their frames on our hips are removed.
Once we pull them down and have broken their posture we can then swim our arms through bringing them inside of the opponent’s arms and cover the opponent’s arm on one side, while obtaining a collar tie grip on the back of the opponent’s neck or head with the other hand. In this position we should be able to maintain the opponent’s broken posture. If this is a self defense situation, it is very difficult for the opponent to land any devastating strikes from here, and even if the opponent is bigger than you, you have the safety of using your entire body to keep them broken down.
The other option after breaking down the opponent is to move directly to another type of guard, such as the Williams guard, clamp guard, or even a half guard if that’s your preference. We can also use this position to setup sweeps, like the sit over sweep, or attacks.
The bottom line here is these are details you absolutely need to have in your game. Being able to break the posture of your opponent in closed guard is the very foundation of Jiu Jitsu and will prove to be something you find yourself doing many many times during your Jiu Jitsu journey.
Shawn has a wealth of knowledge he has obtained coming up through the ranks in the very beginning of Jiu Jitsu in the United States and he wants to share his guard system with us. The long awaited detailed video instructional on the Williams guard is finally here! This 3 disc DVD set not only breaks down what the Williams guard is (name coined by John Danaher) but also takes a dive into all of the submission possibilities and how to accomplish them effectively from the Williams guard.
If you want to learn from one of the best around, check out The Complete Williams Guard by Shawn Williams, today. If this video instructional series doesn’t improve your game exponentially, you should probably find another hobby because you simply aren’t committed. The details in this series will take your game to a new level, giving you an edge on the mats in training, and helping you dominate on the mats in competition.