Air time

Air time: Sweeps in Jiu jitsu all score the same amount regardless of amplitude. Indeed powerful sweeps often result in reduced control after the sweep and allow an opponent to scramble out to avoid conceding the score. Nonetheless there is something to be said for big sweeps - they have a disorienting effect that can sometimes lead into submission attempts after the sweep. In addition they create a definite sense of power that will send a message to opponent and create some fear/respect for the next sweep that may create over reactions that you can exploit. So even though most of the time control is more important than amplitude, every so often you can let fly and make an opponent fly the unfriendly skies

Defensive soundness

Defensive soundness: I’m sure you’ve all been to a boxing match and heard fools in the audience randomly screaming “KEEP YOUR HANDS UP!” every twenty seconds regardless of what is actually happening in the ring. Well, underneath it all there is some wisdom. Boxer keep the hands up in order to cover the chin and make it less accessible to a blow. Observation will quickly reveal good boxers don’t always keep their hands up, but they do whenever they NEED to to. Grapplers too need to protect and cover their chin when they need to - but for different reasons. We don’t need to worry about a blow to the chin, but rather a hand/wrist sliding under the chin to set a stranglehold. As such there is a need for us also to keep our hands up as a block when appropriate to catch not punches to the jaw, but strangles UNDER the jaw. Learn to keep your hand up and ready to block - just like a good boxer you don’t want your hands always in defensive mode - otherwise it can stifle your offense a little - but when it’s needed it BADLY needed - so get those defensive hands up and ready to save you

If your back is on the floor - then you know that your opponent can’t get to your back

If your back is on the floor - then you know that your opponent can’t get to your back: There are several good ways to defend your back but one of the safest and most effective is to work to get your back to the floor. Part of the problem of defending your back is that it’s tough to SEE what your opponent is doing - he is behind you after all - you have to feel it. The beauty of getting your back to the floor is that vision is unnecessary - it’s simply impossible for an opponent to get behind you if you put the floor on your back first. Like any escape - hit it early - the longer you delay the harder it gets. Bear in mind that ultimate it will lead you back to the safety of guard - so be ready to pull your legs in tight upon completion

First contact - hands or feet?

First contact - hands or feet? Grappling is all about connection. No connection to an opponent means no grappling. At some you have to come to grips to make the action start. When you first come to make grips from open guard you have a choice between feet and hands. In truth, much of that choice will be determined by your opponent. If he positions himself in certain ways - hands will make more sense - in others - feet will make more sense. When ever he denies you one, the other will be available. Generally in no gi you will initially use your feet to establish contact at the ankles and knees. Hands at the wrists, elbows and collar. Here, Nicky Ryan uses feet first due to distance and stance - use that first contact to read the opponent and move into establish more contact for greater control. Just as you test water with a single hand or foot before jumping in, so too, test an opponent with a single hand or foot before jumping in to full connection.

Open guard knees to chest

Open guard knees to chest: People talk about posture all the time in Jiu jitsu - understand from the start that different situations will require different postures from you to maximize your efficiency. When it comes to open guard - if you do not have a controlling grip on your opponent - be sure to KEEP YOUR KNEES CLOSE TO YOUR CHEST. This lessens the chance of an opponent explosively clearing your legs and passing before you can react. It also lessens the danger of a quick leg lock entry by the top player. In short - it makes you DEFENSIVELY SOUND at all times until you can get a solid grip upon your opponent that allows you to focus on offense. Here, Australian grappling Star Craig Jones shows near perfect open guard posture, necessary because he does not yet have a controlling grip upon his partner.

It’s hard for an opponent to attack you from guard if you don’t allow his feet to make effective connections to your legs and arms

It’s hard for an opponent to attack you from guard if you don’t allow his feet to make effective connections to your legs and arms: Effective attacks in Jiu jitsu are predicated upon effective grips that form connection between you and an opponent. You can use that connection to control and attack. If you can’t grip and connect - you can’t attack. Now guard position has two major forms of grip. The first is the more obvious one - your hands to your opponents body. The second is your FEET to your opponents body (usually the legs). Your feet do almost as much grilling as your hands in Jiu jitsu. When passing, if you can shut down your opponents ability to grip you with his feet, then you will have gone a long way towards shutting down his offense, and with his offense shut down, now you can focus on the fun stuff - passing his guard - without the distraction of being attacked as you try to pass. Seek to control his feet and prevent them making effective connections to your legs - your passing game will thank you

Carry your opponents weight easily through posture

Carry your opponents weight easily through posture: When you work in bottom position you will have to carry your opponents weight on top of you for extended periods. This can be tiring and fruitless if done with poor posture. IF YOU WANT TO EASILY CARRY AND MOVE HEAVY OPPONENTS FROM BOTTOM KEEP YOUR KNEES TO CHEST AND SOINE CURVED LIKE THE BOTTOM OF A ROCKING CHAIR - just as a rocking chair can easily carry and move heavy bodies, so too will you. Look how Nicky Ryan uses the banana curve in his spine to topple an opponent forward and easily move him into a position where he can lift himself into a cross ashi garami entry. If your spine is flat on the floor you will feel every ounce of your opponents weight and won’t be able to move him an inch. Put a healthy curve in your spine and you will bounce him around from one attack to another.

From guard almost everything begins with an attack on the opponents balance

From guard almost everything begins with an attack on the opponents balance: Here I am demonstrating a double leg entry into cross ashi garami. Note how it begins, as almost all attacks from guard so, as an attack on the opponents balance that forces hands to floor in reaction and then going from there. Your opponent can’t ignore such an attack, his reaction and your preferences will determine the direction and choice of your response - but it all begins with balance.

Pressure passing - the power of half guard

Pressure passing - the power of half guard: There are many ways to create pressure whilst passing an opponents guard, but in my opinion half guard passing is the best for pressure for the simple reason that it offers direct control of the opponents HEAD, which creates the strongest forms of pressure. The ability to exert pressure over time is perhaps the single biggest determinant of success or failure at championship level. Working your way to half guard and getting control of the head gives you what I consider the best pressure passing method in the game. It works equally well in all three areas of sport Jiu jitsu, gi, no gi and MMA. Here, Georges St Pierre, who uses half guard passing brilliantly throughout his MMA career, trades pressure with Gordon Ryan, who used it brilliantly in his double gold medal performance at the ADCC Grappling World Championships.


Obstacles: Sometimes when you run into a skilled guard player and it seems nothing will get you around their legs it gets frustrating. How you react to that frustration will determine your success or failure as a guard passer. We all have a natural tendency when frustrated to get the mentality of a ram and just go on butting heads until one drops. Don’t get into this mindset. Remember always that it’s always better to go AROUND obstacles rather than THROUGH them - guard passing is no different. No matter how tired and frustrated you get, focus on moving from one side to another - as feel strong resistance on the left, move to the right and renew the attack and keep working aide to side until you get the breakthrough you seek. Don’t just kept hammering away on one side against a good guard player - that’s a ticket to frustration and eventual failure. If you feel yourself getting frustrated it’s ok to back off a little and start again. The main thing is to stay on top and work side to side - that alone will usually result in the bottom player working harder than you over time and thus become less effective as fatigue becomes a factor.