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The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Guard – What Type of Guard Will Work For You?

By February 7, 2014 June 27th, 2018 No Comments
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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), or better known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, is a very interesting style of martial art. One of the things that make it so interesting is the many different positions and techniques needed to have success.

When I say interesting I should probably also say tricky. Gaining the understanding it takes to excel at BJJ takes time and is very tricky. There’s a lot to learn.

In fact, BJJ might be the most technique filled martial art on earth. That’s what makes it so fun, you’ve got a lot of choices. What makes it sometimes not so fun is the fact that you’ve got a lot of trial and error associated with learning a style of BJJ that’s going to work for you.

One of the most difficult positions to learn and get good is guard. The guard is when you get taken down in a fight and end up on your back. For self defense this is a “must know” series.

Because of the complex nature of the guard I thought for today’s blog I’d talk about it and give you some of my insight as to what I feel are the keys to mastering it. So let’s take a deeper look at the guard.

When it’s all said and done the guard itself can be broken down into four different types.

Those types are:

  • Closed Guard
  • Butterfly Guard
  • Open Guard
  • Half Guard

Half the battle for a new BJJ student is understanding how these four different guard games work. Then you need to drill the crap out of the techniques. Over time you’ll find out what works for you.

So again, for a beginner to BJJ classes, the real challenge lays in your ability to master a style of guard that works well for you. You’ve got to understand that what might work really well for one student might not work for you at all. Everyone is different and unique in their own way.

Where do you begin to get started?

As a beginner or a student in need of some direction I’d suggest you start with the closed guard. It the most basic of the four styles.

Learn at least 5 different moves from the closed guard and build up from there. Below are five sweeps that I recommend.

  1. Upa
  2. Flower
  3. Arm Pass To Back Take
  4. Double Ankles
  5. Hook Sweep Using One or Both Legs

Start with those sweeps and build from there.

The closed guard is a slower style of guard and that slower pace is most likely just what you need. It gives you a chance to think your movements all the way through before you attack.

Once you start to get a feel for the guard you can then start to test out some other options. Options like the open guard. And believe me if you thought closed guard was complex just wait till you start learning the open guard.

Understanding your body type and using that to your advantage is key.

One major detail to keep in mind is that the way you’re build has a lot to do with the type of guard you’ll end up using.

What I mean by that is if you’re a taller person you might do really well with closed guard vs. a shorter fellow who’d have more luck using half guard.

You’ve gotta test, test and then test some more to find what works for you.

My advice is to take what you learn in the classes and test out the techniques in live rolling. Over time the stuff that starts working for you is the stuff you keep and what doesn’t gets shelved.

Keep in mind that just because a certain technique doesn’t work for you right now doesn’t mean it won’t work down the road.

I can think of many times where I learned a technique and it didn’t work at all and then a year later all the sudden…bam! You hit it on someone. I can’t explain how that all works out but it happens trust me.

There really isn’t a such thing as a bad type of guard. They’re all good. It’s your job to find a system of guard that gets the job done. That won’t happen over night so no worries there. Like I always say, it’s a process and you need to fall in love with process.

When it comes to the process of mastering Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, your goal should always be to keep adding to your BJJ game. Always look for ways to improve from the guard. One thing you can count on is the rate BJJ changes year after year. Guys are always coming up with new and innovative ways to use the guard.

That’s why it’s so critical you keep looking for new ways to improve your skills. Always seek out new learning opportunities and try to stay current with the new skills. Shoot even better, try and stay ahead of the game! That’s always my goal year after year.

Okay I think I’ve made my point. Feedback will be welcomed. Email me at [email protected]

Study the best BJJ fighters and see what they use from the guard.

So in honor of the BJJ guard I included some great videos featuring me (Danny Ives). In them I teach a few of my favorite sweeps. Some are more advanced then others but trust me, they all work well.

Then watch the last video featuring BJJ superstar Marcelo Garcia. Believe me when I say that this dude is a guard machine. In the video you’ll see him rolling with another BJJ rock star, UFC Fighter Demian Maia. It’s really cool to see training at that high a level.

Watch what they both do and try to take what you see and add it to your ground game.


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