When we start training in jiu-jitsu, we all want to develop a guard that is difficult to pass and allows us to attack with sweeps and submissions.
But developing a great guard is no overnight task, even if you have long legs and can move well on the bottom.
One of my instructors once said that “moving the hips is the most difficult part of jiu-jitsu for beginners to learn.” That takes mat time.
Here are three common mistakes I see first year students make in playing guard.
Not Recognizing When A Position Is Lost
Let’s say you are trying to attack with the triangle choke, but your opponent recognizes your attack and defends with strong upright posture. You are so intent on getting the triangle that you persist with the attack, even though your opponent is starting to pass. Your opponent postures up, throws your legs to the side and easily passes your guard.
This has happened to me far too many times.
If you recognize (and admit!) that your triangle is just not going to work, the earlier you abandon your attack and switch to guard, the less likely you are to get passed.
Staying Flat On Your Back
Your ability to retain your guard is directly proportional to your ability to move your hips, switch sides, and create angles.
The area of “guard retention” is not as likely to appear on highlight videos, but it is crucial for developing an unpassable guard.
When you are flat on your back, the amount of friction is greater, slowing your movements down.
The best guard players are constantly moving their hips and getting onto their side to create defensive angles.
Being Too Passive
Many students arrive in the guard position, lie flat on their backs, and try some ineffective, half-hearted leg movements. They are waiting to see what the opponent is going to try, and as can be expected, their guards are soon passed.
If you lie back and wait to see what your opponent is going to do, you are going to get your guard passed.
The single best piece of advice I got on my guard was “attack!”. Attack not only with submissions, but more importantly attack your partner’s posture and balance. If your opponent can not get her posture and grips, she will have a difficult time passing.
Don’t lie back and allow her to get set. Attack!
Read also on Jiu-jitsu Times: Advanced Basics – Knowing The Basic Techniques At A Blackbelt Level