Back at it again fellow Jiu jitsu nerds, today we are talking closed guard.
Every white belt on their first week of Jiu jitsu learns certain things, you’re going to learn how to break fall, self-defense techniques, a technical stand up, a judo throw, and you’re going to learn how to attack from the closed guard. Why is it that the first guard most practitioners learn is the closed guard? What makes it so special? Is it effective at the highest levels? Why do we seldom see it nowadays? I will try to answer and discuss Jiu jitsu’s most loved/hated guard and why it’s important we learn and implement it in our game immediately.
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When speaking about the closed guard we have to understand, your game does not need to completely revolve around the closed guard, me personally, I prefer the half guard game but that’s based on my personal preference and body type. There are plenty of world class Jiu jitsu players who have a plethora of different guard games they play, but one thing is for sure is that they all have amazing closed guards. A great example of this would be to watch Craig Jones vs. DJ Jackson, Craig Jones who is known for his z-guard completely controls the match and wins from the closed guard.
But why do we learn this particular guard first? In simple words, safety. The closed guard poses two major problems for the person in the closed guard if they lack good posture, and those are distance control, and since their attacks are limited, they are constantly on the defensive. Now let’s think from a real-life street mindset. If my hips can push you away and keep you from hitting me I win, if I can use my hips and pull you towards me, hug you and keep you from hitting me I win, if you throw a crazy punch and I armbar you and break your arm I win again. I think the best example of an amazing closed guard in a real fight situation would be Kron Gracie in MMA. This is someone who deliberately pulls the closed guard and dares you to try something. Why? Because he knows he’s safe in that position.
Now to our next question is it effective? Closed guard completely out does other guards due to the amount of attacks that the position affords the practitioner. The best example of someone to watch who completely destroys everyone from this position would be my personal favorite practitioner of all time, the great Roger Gracie. Roger Gracie’s entire game revolves around the closed guard, he understood that his closed guard was a nightmare for his opponents. Not only did you have to withstand the attacks, but you had to break the closed guard and then try to pass to even try to initiate an offensive game. A tall order for anyone, let alone against the greatest Jiu jitsu competitor of all time.
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Roger Gracie rode his closed guard to 10 IBJJF World Championships and also a 2005 ADCC Champion winning both weight and absolute submitting all 8 of his opponents. In MMA closed guard is still the main guard by which most finishes happen due to how useful it is in a real fight situation. So, the closed guard’s effectiveness at any level can’t be argued.
Why is it seldom used today? That answer is a complex one, not only is it based on the comfort level of the practitioner, but also because it’s a maze in itself to get to that position. Against an untrained opponent getting to the closed guard takes little effort but against a seasoned Jiu jitsu practitioner the closed guard is avoided at all costs. Closed guard was explained to me as a white belt by a former professor by saying, “closed guard is like a black hole, once you get in, you may never get out again, so don’t ever get stuck there.” Understanding that someone won’t just let you get to closed guard personally forced me to learn other guards, which only shines on the beauty of our sport. To get to an end goal sometimes you have to take different paths, so you better learn all the roads. I am still personally exploring all the intricate details of this guard and different approaches to get there but one thing is for certain, out of all the guards in Jiu jitsu, closed guard is king.
Bernardo Faria‘s DVD “The Closed Guard” will instantly improve your closed guard game. Check it out here!