Attacking from the Z Guard
The Z-guard is a modified version, really a subset, of the half guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In the traditional half guard, the top leg is usually trapped behind the top opponent, which makes this position limited in its options. When using a knee shield in the half guard, meaning placing the shin of the top leg across the torso of the passer’s body, our defense and attack versatility increases drastically. The Z-guard is very similar to the knee shield half guard except the top leg is more horizontal, lower, and the knee finds itself perfectly encapsulated by the passers hip. This guard is excellent for defense as it is difficult to remove its unique knee shield and is also a great position to attack from.
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Although the Z-guard has been around for a while, not many have been able to use it consistently in competition. Craig Jones is in the party of individuals who are capable of using it successfully. Although his physical stature does help him in this position, he also uses attacks that are intelligent, quick, and difficult to stop. One of the submissions Jones attacks from Z-guard is an armbar, he calls it the “Choi Bar.” The armbar is attacked when the top player works to get a cross face, which happens very often. In the following video, Craig goes through this move in great detail.
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When a top player attempts a cross face in the Z-guard, he must cover a great distance, and in doing so, he is exposing himself to the underhook grip position Craig secures. This position alone is very strong as one can attack a Marcelo Garcia style armbar by swinging to the other side, on transitioning to butterfly guard and sweeping instantly. Although Craig Jones explains the armbar finish from the turtle-like position, the other grappler will likely begin to roll forward, allowing the attacker to transition to a standard arm bar. Also, rather than attacking the armbar, a grip switch and minor transition will allow for other submissions like the kimura or omoplata.
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