Closed Guard Passing Guide for Beginners with Alec Baulding – BJJ Fanatics

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Working to pass the closed guard can be a tedious process. In a no gi setting, we often do everything we can to stay out of a closed guard scenario, as it slows thigs down considerably. If your opponent is sharp inside the closed guard, your stint there can seem to last ages. The bottom player begins looking for ways to break your posture, pull you forward, and eventually funnel you in to an unfavorable situation. 

We’ve all been there. You’re working furiously to achieve the guard pass, switching sides, circling, trying to get that lead leg up the middle. We begin to make some progress, and boom, your opponents legs come out of nowhere, and you get put back inside the closed guard. Your progress has come to a halt, and you must work to free yourself before you can begin to try again. 

I remember how frustrated I used to get after trying my hardest to pass the guard and coming up short. I’d get stuck inside the closed guard, and the bottom player would just begin t harass me. Making my life difficult and usually resulting in a less than favorable outcome. But this is how we learn right? We try and try again, and we figure out what works best for us. IF only I had a couple of key principles to adhere to in those earlier days. I may not have spent so much time frustrated. 

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In a competition setting, being stuck in the closed guard for an extended period of time can cost you the match. We often see a great contest come to a grinding halt when the closed guard becomes a factor. You could be down by two points, get caught in the closed guard and remain there without progression for the duration of the bout. There needs to be some urgency. When the closed guard is achieved, the work to dismantle it must begin immediately. Being lazy here, and not working aggressively to open the guard can cost precious time. 

So, what do we do? Where should our focus be concentrated inside the closed guard so that we can begin to crack the position and keep moving forward? How do we keep our posture and create distance, so that we don’t remain in the tangled web of the closed guard?

Alec Baulding has some great advice for you on staying safe and dismantling the closed guard in this video. It’s incredibly user friendly and easy to follow, with some concepts that can be applied to many different passing situations. Take a look!

Let’s do some bullet points on some key elements of Baulding’s instruction and highlight some key principles that can assist us in exiting the closed guard. See if you can pick out anything in particular that you may be omitting from your efforts to pass the guard. 

  • Fight for the inside track

The first thing Baulding talks about is what he’s doing with his hands and arms. He begins by making cupping grips, or crab style grips, and planting them firmly near the arm pits. His arms are straight and close to his partner’s body. As his partner begins to fight for position, Baulding pommels, circles, and fights for inside position. This is crucial. The guard player also will be doing their best to win this inside space. If they do, they will end up controlling the posture game, transitioning your arms across their body, and creating angles. When these kinds of things begin to happen, it can be the beginning of the end. You must stay active here. Don’t let your partner dominate the hand fighting battle. Win the inside track and continuously fight for it!

Baulding advises us to separate ourselves as much as possible from the bottom player. This separation will impede your opponents’ options to a great degree, and limit their ability to control your posture and win the hand fight. He does this by walking on his knees in a backward motion and pushing his hips back. He does this in combination with his grips in the armpits and the extended position of his arms. This backward push will also stress the guard players crossed feet making it more difficult to maintain the closed guard. 

Next, Baulding begins to create further separation by bringing his knee in between him self and his partner. He then begins to stand, positioning his knee under his partners butt. With this wedge created and the assistance of gravity, Baulding begins to push down on his partners shoulders or hips to unlock the legs. He is now free to begin passing. Be careful to leave you other leg training here and not to stand up too square, as you may be greeted with a double ankle style sweep as you arrive at your feet. 

Keep in mind here that if you’re dealing with a taller bottom opponent, you will have to use your back in combination with the hip push. As you push down on the hips, arch and widen your back to take up the space and provide more pressure to the opening of the guard. 

The closed guard doesn’t have to be the end of the match. The main thing here to remember is that you will have to work diligently to escape it. Keep this in mind if your ever tempted to be lazy in a closed guard setting. The moment you realize you’ve been caught; you must begin to fight for that inside space and begin creating distance. This is a phenomenal entry level pass for the closed guard, but these same principles will certainly apply in an advanced setting also. The pass may just look a little different. 

Stop spending so much time in closed guard. Get your bearings and begin fighting to remove yourself from this match slowing entanglement!

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