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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

23 October 2016

23/10/2016 - Private with Kev | Open/Closed Guard Maintenance

Class #775 - Private #026
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Kev Capel, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, UK - 23/10/2016

To mark my approaching ten year anniversary in BJJ, I thought I'd book another private with Kev. Open guard has continued to be the weakest area for me, so we focused on that. Kev started off by sharing a few guard retention drills he's found useful (both to practice and to teach). They're related to the series he taught a long while back, but I think this version encourages more hip rotation, which is useful.

You've established a basic open guard, feet on their hips. They grab your ankle and pull it across, the beginning of a leg drag. Turn your hips in order to bring your other leg across, then push off that to recover square on. Then they go a bit further, so you push into the knot of their belt, again recovering to guard. The reason you go for the knot is that too far in either direction could lead to footlocks, them dislodging your foot and passing, or the Estima footlock (there's still a risk of that, but it's less). As you swivel, you yank your other leg free by pulling your knee to your chest.

If they manage to get to the knee cut pass, there is a counter you can try (a little like the ones from Leuven). Ideally you want to get your knee shield in, that's the most powerful defence. If you've missed that, first grab their gi collar, your fist into their neck. It's important your palm is facing down, that makes it harder for them to knock that hand out of the way. Your other elbow goes behind, to give you enough base to scoot away and get your knee shield in, then recover guard.

Playing open guard generally, Kev recommends getting a grip on their same side trouser leg first, as that tends to be the hard one to get. Shin-on-shin is the quickest guard to establish, making sure you keep your shin engaged. If you aren't actively pushing that into their shin, they can simply whip their leg around. Similarly, you need to keep your other leg pressed into their knee, constantly pressurising them.

Kev prefers sitting guard. Again, after you've wrapped your leg and arm around, keeping the pressure on their other leg with your free leg. If you don't, they'll squish you with their knee. From here, you can kick up to knock them past your head, or sweep your leg back to go into a single leg. There's de la Riva and x-guard entries from here too, but as neither of those are main guards for me, I can save those for a later date.

If they get strong sleeve grips, Kev suggested moving into spider guard to help reduce the power of those grips. He doesn't tend to sweep much with that (apart from the push on the floor one to knock them towards his head and then sweep), instead using it to set up closed guard.

From closed guard, there was another handy tip. The first thing Kev does is grab the meat of their hands by the thumb side, twisting both of their hands so they face upwards. That makes it really hard for them to get any kind of grips. Their reaction will indicate the next move. Kev likes to move an arm across and pull them in with the knees, to get that strong position where they are collapsed over their own arm.

That leads into what Nic Gregoriades randomly (but memorably) calls the 'chimp, chump, champ' series. The words don't entirely fit, but the idea here is that a 'chimp' won't react, so they just sit there in that position. Grabbing their lat, you can move into a back take. A 'chump' will make the mistake of putting up their leg on the non-trapped arm side. You can then hook that with your same side leg and sweep them. A 'champ' puts up their leg on the other side: that gives you the opportunity to move into an armbar.

My preference is the shoulder clamp grip, which Kev noted would be something to move into if they try to move their arms out to recover their hands. You can capitalise on their focus on their hands to pull them in and thread into a shoulder clamp.

Finally, in terms of passing open guard, there is another hand grip that's handy: you're also grabbing the meat of the hand, but the other side (i.e., under the little finger), forcing their palms down. As with the closed guard option, that makes it hard for them to establish grips. You can then step your same side leg behind their knee, moving around to a perpendicular angle.

Once you've got that angle and can drive your knee in behind theirs (into a sort of knee-led leg drag), you 'land the airplane', coming in low to lock up the pass. I think that was the last technique, hopefully I didn't forget anything on my way to the train. Before I left, Kev popped a fourth stripe on my purple belt, which is always nice.

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