Many experienced grapplers consider the closed guard to a simple, boring, and ineffective position. If you have been training for a while, you might consider a lot of the fundamental techniques and positions you learned early in your white belt days to be this way. With everything in Jiu Jitsu, though, there are layers, and even positions like closed guard can be exciting and powerful.
Too many students (especially blue belts) focus on the new fancy techniques, guard sweeps, etc. But don’t ignore the old school fundamental jiu jitsu that just works.
The first reason every grappler, and pretty much every person really should learn closed guard is its usefulness as a self defense tool. If you are on your back while being attacked, there is no safer position to be in than closed guard. Closed guard can not only prevent your face from getting smashed in, but it also opens opportunists for sweeping or submitting aggressors.
Just because you think you learned all the closed guard basics doesn’t mean your competent from the position. Ideally, you should be able to submit people from closed guard just as likely as you would from another position. The reason you think you can’t is because you haven’t trained it well enough.
It wasn’t until my late blue belt, early purple belt time when I actually started using my closed guard well. When I was a blue belt, I tried to spend a lot of time there because I didn’t want to become the purple, brown, or black belt that had a poor closed guard.
The first thing you need to be able to do to have a great closed guard is keep people in our closed guard. I’ve noticed many grapplers rush to open their guard the second someone tries to open it. Sometimes you should, but often times you want to keep your guard. The big rule here is only open your guard when you want to, not when your opponent does.
To keep people locked in the guard, you need to learn how to keep their posture broken. If the top player maintains good posture, they will either open your guard or you just won’t be able to attack them. When trying to control our opponent’s from closed guard, we need to use our entire bodies and not just our arms.
Shawn Williams is one of the earliest Americans to get their black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This Renzo Gracie black belt is a master of the old school positions, especially closed guard. In the following video, Shawn shows how to break down the top player’s posture and keep them down. See below:
As Shawn mentions, it’s important to place emphasis on the use of the legs for control when playing closed guard. Not only will they help you break down your opponent’s posture, but it will help you keep it broken. After breaking posture, you want to bring your guard higher, as that is a harder position to posture from.