While I am not of the belief that there is a “best guard” I am of the belief that each guard has its strengths and weaknesses. This blog series will analyze each of the most prominent guards and will hopefully give you an idea of their strengths and weaknesses so that you may use the right tool for the job! Let’s take a look at closed guard…
1. What range is the guard effective?
Closed Guard is effective when your opponent is very close, on the ground and his on the knees. It can be difficult to force a high level player into the closed guard as they will have better base the posture away from the bottom players attempts to pull them down.
2. What range is the guard weak?
The guard becomes very weak once the ankles are released and the opponent has postured. Many high level players will voluntarily open their closed guard when an opponent postures so as to transition to a more effective guard against a postured opponent such as a butterfly guard.
3. How effective is the guard against high level players?
Closed guard is being used less and less in high level competition as it is difficult to achieve the position and there are few ways to check the balance of your opponent to force them to place a limb in the wrong position. Butterfly guard, for example, has the leg “hooks” to check the opponents balance to force them to base.
4. How effective is the guard against new players?
Closed guard can be very effective against new players as they will have a weaker base to posture with. It is also excellent at maintaining guard if the practitioner is stuborn about not opening the guard and pulling the opponent down. This can stifle your opponent advancing position and slow down the game.
5. What physical attributes does the guard benefit from?
Flexibility (especially if you want to play a rubber guard). Long limbs will help improve the range of your closed guard and will make it more difficult for your opponent to open your closed guard.
6. How effective is the guard at sweeping?
This is a big weakness of the closed guard. There are very few options in closed guard for upsetting your opponent’s base.
7. How effective is the guard at submitting your opponent?
Closed guard is an excellent submission oriented guard. The practitioner has many submission options available from closed including triangle chokes, various lapel chokes, Kimura, Omoplata, straight armlocks ect.
8. How effective is the guard at maintaining your guard?
Closed guard is excellent at maintaining your guard. The opponent must achieve a postured position in order to open the guard and even then must have excellent base to open the guard effectively and safely. If you close the guard and prevent your opponent from posturing and then pull him in to prevent the guard break you can slow down the game. This can be excellent if you are up on points in a tournament but can also be a hindrance if you are down on points and need to generate movement to score points in a short amount of time. Closed guard can be a huge vortex for time and I have seen many Jiu Jitsu matches start and end in closed guard.
9. How effective is the guard at preventing strikes?
Closed guard is very good at preventing strikes when your opponent is not postured. Once postured, the opponent can sacrifice posture to land heavy strikes.
10. Which Jiu Jitsu athletes should I look at for ideas on this guard?
Kron Gracie, Eddie Bravo, Roger Gracie and most importantly, your instructor.