Is Guard Even Safe Anymore?
Is Open Guard Safer Than Closed Guard?
When it comes to open guard being safe in a self defence situation we can look towards what has happened in the past with mixed martial arts competition's to get a guide of whether or not it is a safe position to be in when your opponent is striking you.
Especially back in the olden day MMA rule sets such as Vale tudo, the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, along with the Pride Fighting Championship. Where with their rule sets competitors were allowed to not just punch, knee, but also kick a downed opponent to the body, legs and head.
History shows that it is not a safe position to stay in for a long period of time. There were a lot of brutal knockouts coming from stomps and soccer kicks to competitors head's. Rarely did we see much effective striking coming from the opponent lying on the back in an open guard. If anything it was usually to create space by kicking to get back to a standing position. On the very odd occasions we would see an effective kick here and there from a downed opponent, yet this was very rare.
One of the main reasons being is because of the lack of how mobile you are, while laying on your back. not to mention as brutal as they are, it could be nothing compared to what could happen in a self defence situation. These were in a sports context where there were referees, and also a single attacker. there are just too many different variables in a self defence situation for it to be effective.
When we are talking about self defence with multiple attackers any guard is not going to be a good position to be in. the best advice would be to abandon your guard completely and create enough space to get back to a standing position, to where you can start to look at getting out of danger.
Is Closed Guard Good For Self Defence?
Closed guard or full guard on the other hand will be a safer position to avoid bigger strikes from a single attacker as long as you are controlling your opponents posture. That usually involves controlling and wrapping around your opponents head and arm.
On the other hand when you look at sports Jiu Jitsu to when your opponent is posturing up to where they can open the guard of their opponents. This middle range area is a dangerous area when there are strikes involved where the opponent has enough space to inflict damage on a downed opponent.
Then again if we look at what a guard has been designed for in the first place, ( Whether that be for sport or self defence? ) There are three main areas we need to focus on
1. The ability to be able to submit your partner while on your back. For example a triangle choke, Kimura shoulder lock, straight arm bar, guillotine and so on.
2. The ability to be able to sweep and roll your partner over so you can gain a top position. For example a sit up sweep, kick back sweep, a scissor sweep, the list goes on.
3. And with the last one being the ability to take your opponents back to gain a very advantageous position. For example an arm drag in butterfly guard, or full guard. Or even taking your partner's back when you have an under hook in half guard.
If you are not doing one of these 3 things when you are in any guard especially in a self defence or MMA situation you are stalling and just holding your opponent or attacker. You are going to want to progress out of there sooner, rather than later.
I would suggest adding on another element when we are talking about a self defence/MMA situation. And that would be number 4. The ability to be able to abandon guard by creating enough space to get back to a standing position if none of the other three offensive guard tactics are working out for you.
Is Closed Guard A Good Position?
Close guard is a wonderful position when we are looking at sport Jiu Jitsu. Although you are on your back and sometimes it can feel like your opponent is pinning you. Although this is a misconception, when you are just grappling and there are no strikes involved. You have so many more options than your opponent has inside of your closed guard.
As mentioned previously you had the ability to submit your opponent in a number of different ways. Whether that be through different variations of chokes. That will force your opponent to tap will go unconscious. Such as the guillotine choke, where you are locking your arm around your opponents neck and reinforcing the grip with your other hand along with bridging to apply pressure. Or even the triangle choke, where you are locking your legs together while one of your legs are across your opponent's neck, and cutting off the blood supply.
Or even using the kimono for chokes, such as the cross lapel choke. Attacking your opponent's limbs such as the kimura shoulder lock, which will ultimately dislocate your opponents shoulder joint. There are also options of hyper extending your opponents elbow joint through different variations of the straight arm bar. These are just some submissions amongst many others.
Along with using your legs you have the ability to cut an angle and be able to get underneath your opponents centre of gravity to sweep him or her over to progress by gaining a top position, such as the mount position, side control or even into variations of your opponents guards. To where you will be on top and gravity and pressure will be in your favour.
Along with having the ability to be able to move around your opponent's arms to take their back. That can usually be done through combinations of attacking sweeps or submissions. Or even through singular movements such as ducking under your opponent's arm, or the most common one from a closed guard would have to be a arm drag to your opponents back.
What Do You Do In Someone's Closed Guard?
On the other hand when you are in somebody's closed guard the only thing you should be focusing on is opening your opponent's legs. The 2 most common ways of how to do this is by getting your posture by kneeling back and sitting on your heels. Controlling your opponent's hips with your elbows in, driving your knee in the centre of your opponents leg while basing out and prying your opponents legs apart by leaning back, along with driving your elbow down to the inside of the thigh.
With the 2nd way being very similar although you are standing up inside your opponents closed guard and pushing down to the inside of their leg. Both ones of these have pros and cons. If you are standing or kneeling there are different sweeping options along with submissions that you have to be wary of.
Although you are on top, it is a very defensive position. You are not in a safer position being in your opponent's close guard than your opponent is on their back as they have so many more threats and attacks that they can use against you, than you can on them.
There is only really one threat that they have to be wary of and that is an Ezekiel choke, where you are laying chest to chest with them and reaching around your opponent's neck, locking your fingers in your sleeve and causing a choke. Although this is a very basic technique and rarely works on a skilled opponent.
Only once you open your opponent's guard can you even consider looking at different types of offensive techniques such as attacking your opponents legs with different leg lock submissions. For example the most common one would be the straight foot lock, where it is putting pressure on your opponents achilles, which can be done in adult gi or nogi competitions. Or even falling back into different heel hooks that can put pressure on your opponents ankle and knee. Although these submissions they can only be done in certain nogi grappling competitions at the higher levels.
Although their is a downside of falling back to go for different submissions inside your opponents guard, and that is if they don't pay off and you don't get your finishing submission, you do run the risk of your opponents gaining a top position. In most jiu jitsu competitions they will usually gain points on you, because as soon as they are out of danger of your submission attempt, this would be considered as a sweep. where at the time you will Ultimately have to weigh up your odds to weather or not it is even worth going for it.
Usually with higher ranked students you will start to see them blending their guard passes together with their submission attempts, to get different reactions off their opponents, along with overloading their minds with different options making it easier to either get their guard passes, or submissions. but this is more so the case with different guards, as opposed to the closed guard. The reason being is because they are more mobile and freer to move to be able to Isolate their opponents limbs.
Hopefully you gathered some useful information from this blog. Don't forget to follow my social media links, check out my Jiu Jitsu courses, and sign up below to get breakdown videos, and blogs sent to you. And until next time, have an awesome day.
I would also suggest having a listen to this podcast for more information on this subject.
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