Offensive Closed Guard: Stallers Not Welcome

Published on by Daniel Covel

Photo courtesy of Jon Ricard

I have had quite a few people ask me how did I come about developing my specific closed guard.  I was struck at the amount of times I got asked that at first.  As more and more people started to ask the more I took some time to consider what they were asking.  How did my closed guard come about?  Simple I thought, it was what I needed and what I wanted out of brazilian jiujitsu.

When I first made the transition from judo to brazilian jiujitsu I made it specifically for the purpose of helping me develop my ability to finish fights from the ground due to positional dominance or submission in mma events and because competing in brazilian jiujitsu seemed to focus on the finish as opposed to judo and their subjective scoring on throws.  My love for judo will and has always been there but I just didn't care for where the emphasis was being placed with regards to competitions.  Brazilian jiujitsu had the appeal of finishing fights and what separated it from other combat sports specifically grappling ones was the use of a guard, specifically closed guard.  Closed guard seemed like an insurance policy to me.  Get knocked down?  Go to closed guard.  Get takedown?  Go to closed guard.  Stumble and fall while slipping a punch?  You guessed it, get to closed guard.  Closed guard was a position that I could make a simple correlation to from other positions I was already using, it was a no brainer.

Marcelo Garcia Academy in NYC

Closed guard was the answer to being placed in the worse position possible during a fight, on your back.  No one wants to fight off their back but if you have to, you might as well be as comfortable as possible and make it a strength instead of a weakness.  I look at closed guard the same way a wrestler looks at the collar tie up or a judo players sleeve and lapel grip.  Controlled position where I could launch into being offensive without being placed in immediate danger if my offensive isn't successful but safer than the above mentioned.  Where people in the past used it as a position where they could catch their breathe, or try to wear their opponent down, I just thought of it as a perfect place to create angles and attack!  Attack as much and as often as possible.  Make it as difficult as possible to defend.  Make my opponent feel like they are drowning in a never ending wave after wave of attack and counter attack situations.  Of course, thinking like that required changing the way closed guard was played.  

"Inverted Closed Guard Armbar" from Black Magic Closed Guard DVD

Like I mentioned above lots of closed guard players used it to stall out an opponent or try to suck the fight out of their opponent, I wanted to use it as a blitzing position.  Creating total chaos in my favor.  So with that thought process I have to look at ways to make it difficult to stack me and make myself more mobile without giving up my ability to clinch my opponents upper body and keep their posture broken.  After lots of trail and error I came up with what we have now, getting inverted, getting perpendicular and finishing sweeps/submissions.  Getting inverted and perpendicular without being stacked and smashed required lots failed attempts.  The one fundamental movement that finally allowed me to move in the direction I wanted was bridging.  Bridging was paramount in allowing my hips to get off the mat as well as keeping my opponents ability of squaring back up with my hips to a minimum.  Hips being off the mat allowed for me to cut more angles and get to the position of advantage I was seeking.  

That was the genesis of the way I started to develop what I play now, bridging of all things.  I find it more useful and practical to be aggressive from the closed guard and believe in it's offensive properties than just to lay there and hope my opponent makes mistakes.  I look to finish as many competitors I face from it, given the opportunity.  Live by the sword or die by it, guard player for life.

Click here for another sample move from the Black Magic Closed Guard.