In the last Wise Grappler Ezine, I wrote about the first 3 mat tips
necessary to improve your closed guard (see blog post below if you missed part 1).
In this ezine article, I want to cover the remaining 3
mat tips for improving your closed guard:
Tip #4: Your hands must always be making controlling contact with
your opponent at all times while they’re in your guard – Too often
doing a grappling match, a grappler will be holding on to his
opponent and, once fatigue starts to settle in during the match,
the grappler will let go of his grip and do something like put his
hand behind his head or sit up on an elbow without executing any
kind of technique. If you break contact with your opponent so that
you can sit up to breathe or give your hand a rest because it’s
tight from gripping so hard, how are you going to stop them from
passing your guard? You won’t!
Tip #5: Learn to dictate your opponent’s bodyweight and base by the
way you “drive their head” – Everyone has heard at one time or
another to grab your opponent’s head and pull it down to your
chest. But rarely do you hear what to do next. Most times,
grapplers will pull their opponent forward by grabbing their head
and pulling it to their chest, waiting for your opponent to free
their head and hoping they create space for you to sit up once they
re-establish their base. That’s possible, but requires a reflexive
action to take advantage of during that transition which may be
difficult to execute at the right time, especially when you’re
fatigued during a match. But what if you steered your opponent’s
head by grabbing the back of your opponent’s heard and turning it
like you would turn the steering wheel on a car? You would force
your opponent to break his own base by crossing his centerline
while trying to free their head, making it easier for you to sweep
to one side of their body (due to putting too much weight on one
side) while creating space on the other side that would enable you
to maneuver from underneath them.
Tip #6: Transition from closed to open guard BEFORE your opponent’s
breaks your guard AND attack immediately – Most grapplers have
heard that you shouldn’t wait until your guard is broken before you
move to the next position (which tends to be open guard), but the
problem is the fact that many grapplers do absolutely nothing
immediately after making the transition. Transitioning from closed
to open guard should give you the ability stay one step ahead of
your opponent while attacking them from a position since they
haven’t made the full adjustment to dealing with since they’re
still concentrating on opening your legs or maintaining their
And there you have the remaining three tips that should improve
your guard attacks. Make sure that you practice these steps often
and don’t get discouraged if your guard is passed while trying to
perfect these tactics. With patience and persistence, you’ll have
one of the most feared closed guard attacks at your academy.
The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my students and he wanted to know what gave me the idea of using a folding chair to demonstrate and teach the proper posture for the “Bullfighter” Guard Pass (as he saw in on the OG Clinic DVD) since he had never seen anyone use furniture to teach a grappling concept before. I told him the reason I was able to use the chair to successfully teach the concept of proper body placement and weight distribution was based solely on the fact that no one ever told me that I couldn’t use a folding chair to teach my students. And since no one told me I couldn’t use a chair (or anything else that comes to mind), my teaching was bound ONLY by my creativity.
The motivation for using the chair was to teach my students the proper hand positioning and to show them where the weight should be distributed to neutralize their opponent while doing the pass. The reason I used the folding chair was the fact that they’re light and mobile, which allows me to put several on the mat at one time to create a unique drill for the students that immediately catches their attention and presents them with a simple training tool that most of them have in their homes and workspaces. Once they put their hands on the chair in the proper position, the feeling they feel in their hands lets them know exactly where the weight is being distributed and if their feet and hips are properly positioned for successfully neutralize their opponent for a successful guard pass.
The whole idea of using a folding chair seems so foreign to many grapplers (of all experience levels and ranks), but that’s one of the reasons that so many grapplers can’t improve outside the traditional setting or without black belt level instruction. They lack the imagination and creativity required to help them learn, understand, and to teach grappling techniques and concepts outside of the traditional setting that you see in lots of training academies, grappling books, and instructional DVDs.
Would I consider myself an innovative genius for using chairs (among other things) as training props? Well…yes and no! I am innovative because I haven’t seen anyone else doing it and no one’s accused me of stealing it from someone else…yet! At the same time, I know that I don’t own the patent on training creativity and quite certain that there are TONS of non-traditional training methods being used in gyms around the world that teach grappling concepts that are unknown to the masses.
THAT’S what I consider “thinking outside the box” in grappling. So, if you’ve got some “crazy” idea that helps you or your students understand a grappling principle, keep up the good work and continue to think outside the box. And if you think using a folding chair as a guard passing training tool was cool, wait until you see how I use a stationary bike seat and an umbrella in my OG Shadow Grappling DVD, which will be available within the month!
Paul M. Greenhill, “The Wise Grappler”, is the creator of The Wise Grappler System and author of The Wise Grappler Ezine, a weekly ezine that provides grappling and mental mindset training tips for the older (over 35) and non-traditional/non-competitive martial artists. To learn more about “The Wise Grappler” and to sign up for more FREE tips like these, visit his site at www.thewisegrappler.com or contact The Wise Grappler.