The closed guard (full guard) is one of the most basic positions in BJJ. Strictly speaking, in a full fight, the full guard is a better position for the person on top – if the two opponents know BJJ and MMA at the same level. This is due to the fact that the person in the top full guard position has the ability to rain down punches over his opponent with the full force of gravity. This though is not the case in the position of closed full guard for the sport of BJJ. The person that’s on the bottom has a lot more options in terms of sweeps and submissions that his opponent on top. The top guy can only open up the guard and start passing. To that end, opening and passing the closed guard is one of the most important skills that you can learn for BJJ.
The techniques for opening & Passing the closed guard
So, if you enter the full guard, you’re now facing a problem. And this problem is how to open and pass your opponent’s guard. This much is clear – and you can’t really do anything else. At the same time, you have to defend yourself from being swept or submitted. You need to act fast.
To that end, there are two main ways in which you can execute the opening and passing of the closed guard. You can do it sitting down or standing up. It’s up to you to determine which technique is most applicable for the moment at hand.
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The “sitting” closed guard Technique
Now, the sitting techniques are much more stable to execute. But this doesn’t mean that they are fool-proof. The first thing you could do is stabilize your base, put your two arms on your opponent’s belt (or at the front of the hips, if he’s not wearing a Gi and belt) and strengthen your posture by rising up. This will disable your opponent from moving and trying to do various sweeps and positions. You will learn that if you do this, then you will gain much in terms of stability and you will neutralize your opponent for the most part. Again, it’s a mistake to feel invincible once you do this – as your opponent can still find a small angle and use it to topple you or submit you.
What you need to do next is to leave one of your arms firmly extended on his belt. The other arm needs to be placed by your opponent’s knee. Your hand should be resting (or grabbing the Gi) at your opponent’s quadriceps muscle. You need to use this hand in order to create pressure at the side of your opponent’s leg while simultaneously pushing with your other arm at his belt. In order to increase the pressure, you can even put one of your knees in front near your opponent’s behind – preventing him from coming closer to you and closing the guard. Your opponent won’t be able to withstand this pressure for a long time and he will have to release his legs from behind your back.
What you can do now is lift one of your knees in order to prevent your opponent from closing the guard again. And then you can use whatever way you wish to pass. You can grab his legs with your arms and move to his side. Or you can just slide with your knee on your opponent’s side. You just have to be careful not to let your opponent close the guard again. However, even if he does – he will have burned out his legs trying to keep it close for the first time. It will be a lot easier to reopen it.
The Standing Closed Guard Pass Technique
What you need to do in order to perform the standing technique is to first grab one of your opponent’s sleeves with your opposite arm. Maintain a firm base and start standing up with your posture upright. If you do this, then you will have your opponent’s arm in possession while standing up. Make sure that you pull your opponent’s arm towards your side in order to fully incapacitate him. What you then need to do is use your other arm just as you have used it in the first technique. Use it to bust open your opponent’s guard. Then all you need to do is slide with one knee into side control – and it’s easy from there.
Be careful though, as your opponent can sweep you if you don’t maintain a firm base. Make sure that you keep his arm close at all times. If you let go, then all he needs to do is grab your ankles with his arms and use his knees to push you at your core. This is a powerful sweep that sometimes works even in the higher-belt levels.