The Guard is probably the most elusive position in Martial Arts.
In Competition Jiujitsu there are many modern guards which confuse even high level black belts that aren’t regularly exposed to them. Enson Inoue recently renounced his black belt after having a hard day with some comp dudes.
In NoGi several of the guards do not work without the sleeve and pant grips necessary and other guards are favoured that offer more security.
In MMA passing the guard is not necessary as you can punch from top guard and quite often, win from not-passing and punching.
Sweeps from the guard in MMA are not common, fighter’s usually ejecting to stand up and trade strikes again, which is not common to competition jiujitsu.
Fig 1. Study by Professor X – MMAfightDB.com
The primary concern of the jiujitsu teacher should be to teach a beginner to get up, to escape. It takes YEARS to master the triangle, let alone apply it under pressure. The ‘Getup in base’ is a Gracie staple for a reason.
It might save your ass.
And also as an MMA fighter you should be proficient at using the knee shield or the foot on the hip to create enough space to get up and bang or nail your own takedown and play top game.
The closed guard old school gracie Position 1 (overhook/collartie) and The feet-on-the-hips defensive guard are seriously underrated when it comes to avoiding punches. Probably because everyone knows them and has a plan to pass, but possibly because we’re always looking for newer and cooler things to try so we can expand our horizons and show up our nemesis training partners.
Another aspect of the guard that confuses people, is “Which posture break can I use for which hands positions they give me?”
As a rough guide:
Hands on the beltline – maintain the broken posture and move to overhooks or clearing the head to get over the shoulder for hip bump/guilotine.
Hands on the floor – Kimura, transition to overhook, or get the hell UP.
Hands higher up your chest – Rip the elbows out and head control/overhook.
Staggered grip – stuff the further hand into their chest and throw your feet into a high guard, finish the triangle.
And here’s a couple of moves from spider guard based on how the opponent tries to pass your guard (low or high passing).
Give them a whirl!
And remember, get up if you can. It’s not worth risking a guard sub and getting passed, or getting used to playing guard and then in a street fight you get your head smashed in.
Always look to exit.
Or get back up and win the takedown.