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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

12 February 2020

12/02/2020 - Closed Guard | Maintaining | Breaking Grips & Posture

Teaching #938
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 12/02/2020

To attack the closed guard, you are generally going to have to break down your opponent's posture first. That begins from your positioning in the closed guard. Bring your hips up into them to take away space, making it harder for them to start opening your guard. Keep your knees up into their armpits if possible, walking your legs up their back when you can. Your legs are much stronger than your arms: make sure you're using both to break their posture. Alternatively, to make it hard for them to stand up, you can bring your feet down while they're locked behind their back.

If they have managed to get their hands on you, the most basic method of breaking posture is probably pulling their elbows out and then towards you. This is particularly handy if they've got both hands on your hips, or something like that. Using your legs is key here, to help you pull them forwards. If they have one elbow digging back into your leg and you can't pull it back with one hand, reach across with both, then yank that elbow back. This could have the added advantage of enabling you to pull that arm to the other side of your body, very useful for attacking.

The same applies if they want to stand. Carefully time the right moment, then as soon as you feel their bum rise away from their heels, pull your knees towards your chest. That should knock them back onto the ground. It could also put you in a better position than before, as they may end up falling into you, meaning you can get superior control. Ideally, they'll make the mistake of posting on their hands, as that means you can go for various attacks, like the kimura. As Jason Scully advises, you don't have to just pull straight towards you: twisting can knock them right into an omoplata, or at worst help you to start creating angles.

If you want to maintain closed guard, then you need to stop them setting up their pass. If they try to pass from the knees, the first thing they normally do is put a knee into your tailbone, or somewhere else on your bottom. The easy way to scupper that is to grab onto the gi material by their knee and shift your hips back over to the middle. That can be very frustrating for the person trying to pass, which is good for distracting them and working an opening to attack. On the downside, it can consume a fair bit of energy, as you might find yourself doing it repeatedly if they're really persistent. Another option is a very simple sweep from Henry Akins, where you just pop your hips over to the opposite side and knock them over.

When they have the standard grips from closed guard, with one hand grabbing your collars by your chest and the other back by the hip, the two-on-one grip break is a good one to try. Gather their sleeve in your fist (i.e., a pistol grip), then your other hand goes underneath their arm, grabbing your own wrist. The positioning here matters: you want to get the sleeve grip with your arm on the inside. With that configuration, you can either punch straight up to break their grip, or angle your hips away slightly.

Make sure that you maintain your grip on their sleeve, straightening your arm. You want to push their arm across their body, while simultaneously pulling in with your knees. The intention is to collapse them on top of their arm. Due to the grip configuration, your outside hand can reach around to their far armpit. Hook your fingers in for a solid hold, then twist your elbow in firmly. Combined with your stiff-arming sleeve grip, that should rotate their torso and make it hard for them to turn back towards you. You can now shrimp slightly away from them, keeping your bottom foot in tight to act as your first hook.

Shrimping away may be enough to drop them into back control. If not, use the heel of your top foot to dig into their hip, spinning them into back control. You can also use that same grip break to move into the overhook guard. Pull the sleeve behind your hand, bring your elbow from inside to outside. Reach through for their opposite collar and lock in your elbow, then you have lots of attacks from that overhook guard (overhook choke, triangle, sweep, pressing armbar, etc).

My favourite option builds on the simple posture break, as I like to weave my hands into a shoulder clamp. When you pull them down, reach one hand under the armpit, the other around their head. Lock your hands palm to palm (this is known as a 'gable grip', clamping down on their shoulder. When the time is right, loop your arm over their head, tightening your grip even more firmly by their shoulder. You can now start to angle off, rotating your hips in the direction of that shoulder, bringing your knee up their back to press their head down. This sets you up for pressing armbars, omoplatas, backtakes, etc. Swimming through to an overhook is another option.

Another option, which I made up a while ago but I am sure I'm not the first to use it, is to bend that arm in a different way. Grab their collar, then weave your same side arm inside, aiming to bend their elbow. You can then switch directly into a shoulder clamp.

Teaching Notes: Worked fairly well. The one thing I wanted to make sure to add was clamping your feet down and preventing them standing up. I did a video on that the next day, but remember to include it on the basic closed guard control class.

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