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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

21 June 2016

21/06/2016 - BJJ Globetrotter Camp | Leuven 2016 | Retaining Open Guard (Christian Graugart)

Class #729
BJJ Globetrotter Camp (Sportoase Leuven), Christian Graugart, Leuven, Belgium, 21/06/2016

Christian continued with his concepts-led approach to teaching, with most of the class spent doing drills. The details built upon his opening session. This time, he fleshed it out more, in the context of maintaining your open guard. I have been focusing on maintaining open guard for several years, so this was ideal for me. Any more details I can glean on basic open guard are very welcome: I’m not interested in flipping around or weird leg grips, just simple ways to stop my guard getting passed. This class was directly related, giving a broad overview of how to retain that guard.

The class followed a pattern of Christian elucidating the concept a little further, then going off to specific spar on that point (essentially, increasing levels of resistance in specific open guard sparring, but with no sweeps or submissions). First up, he re-emphasised that importance of controlling the space between your knees and chest. Whenever they are passing your guard, it is because they have managed to get your knees away from your chest.

Therefore, your goal is to return to that tight position, whether you're in sitting guard or on your back, with wide knees close to your chest. If your knees are close together, it narrows your guard, making it easier for them to move your legs around and pass. If they pull your leg, you pull it back: Graugart calls this the 'rubber band' principle. It should be difficult for them to break your posture. Some people will even grab their own knees for that reason.

There are exceptions: if you have control, you can straighten the leg, such as in spider guard. As soon as they manage to break that, you need to return to the knees-to-chest guard. Don't reach with your legs, as that opens up your posture without that requisite control. When there is distance, just wait for them to come to you. If you're determined to chase them, make sure you sit up, as then you can stay tight as you move forward.

Christian has a simple approach to grip-fighting: if they grip you, grip them back (grabbing whatever they're gripping you with). For example, if they grip your leg, grab their sleeve. Another big point is to use all four limbs. Make sure that your hands and feet are always engaged, there shouldn't be fresh air under your feet or hands.

Finally, if they are starting to pass, create a frame and get back to your posture. That's the same idea as the stiff arm escape. For example, if they get a double underhook, push up into their arm to try and scoot away. Build a frame, break their posture. The drill this time was to let them pass part of the way, then escape.

All that drilling meant this was the first bit of 'sparring' I got at the camp, though I was holding off on 'proper' sparring until later in the week. My thinking was that if I got banged up from sparring later on, it didn't matter so much, as I already had plenty of classes under my belt. The fact that most of the classes I was looking forward to were earlier in the week anyway helped on that too.

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