September is over. That means that I’m no longer in ‘Guard Month’. So, what did I learn?
Activity is key
If you want a solid guard, activity is the number one thing you can do to help. Maintaining guard is more about keeping the opponent too busy to pass than it is about having some magical, inpenitrable wall.
Even in gaining the guard position got interesting. People knew I was going for the guard and would start, from head to head, in their defence of it. So, I had to come up with new ways to get into guard. The number one way was activity.
Grip fighting, submission attempts, sweep attempts, etc, etc.
I just keep going from one thing to another. A key to this key is not to let myself get occupied with one thing. If I see an arm on the mat I switch to a figure 4. If they block it, Iquickly switch grips to a sweep. If they block that I change angles and attempt an armbar. If they block that, into a tringle, back to a scissors sweep, into butterfly guard, attack the collar, threaten the sweep, attack the posted arm with a figure 4, sweep attempt, guillotine attempt, armbar attempt, armdrag, closed guard… it just keeps going and going and going.
When I did this I found that my opponent’s just didn’t have the time to pass the guard. They were stuck, not because of control or strength, but because they had to defend what was being thrown at them.
Constant activity was the best guard maintainence.
Attack with everything.
When in guard, you’re not able to use your weight to control your opponent. However, this makes it so you can attack with your arms and legs.
If I have grips with my arms (collar and sleeve, for example), then I attack with my legs. Armbars and triangles from guard are leg attacks. Omoplata is a leg attack. Arms control, legs attack. Most sweeps are leg attacks. Arms control legs attack. So, if I have the grips I want, I attack with the legs.
If I don’t have the grips I want I use the legs to control. I push on hips, knees, feet. I hook under legs. I get shins across people to keep distance. While I’m doing this I’m attacking with figure 4s and guillotines and lapel chokes and whatever else I can get my hands on.
Then, it starts to become a process of slowly gaining what I want. So, I want the cross lapel choke from guard.
I get blocked on the way to the deep collar grip, so I grab the sleeve instead. Then, I use my feet to push on the hips to help mess up posture. Then I get a hook in, which they decide to fight against. While they’re fighting that I slowly work my hand up the collar until it’s nice and deep.
I can’t just go in and attack with the other hand. That usually gets blocked. So, I keep that sleeve grip and push for some sweeps or armbars. They defend by ripping the arm away. When they do that I just reach up, get a deep palm-down grip, close my legs around them, and pull down for the choke.
Activity leads to openings.
So, the big lesson I learned in my month spent in the guard is that activity is my key to a sucessful guard.
What’s in store for October?
Well, I asked my coach what he thought I should go for. His immediate answer was, “Getting to mount and finishing”. So, that’s what I’ll be working on in October.