The Closed Guard is one of the most fundamental positions you will learn in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It has to be one of the oldest positions in grappling. It has been popularized by BJJ by the Gracie’s and later through mainstream MMA. The closed guard has long been the “go-to” positions in the grappling arts. It is the main fundamental position you would typically learn as a beginner in the sport. And for good reason. It’s arguably one of the safest positions you could be in.
With the closed guard position, you have a variety of options of attacks to choose from. There are countless of sweeps and submissions you can attack with. Since the closed guard is highly regarded as the foundation to your BJJ game, its important to understand the fundamentals. We look at the most traditional positions and what type of attacks are available to you. Let’s review three basic submissions from closed guard you should learn.
The Importance of the Closed Guard
There’s a reason the closed guard is regarded as the strongest position from the bottom. It is highly effective for a strong guard player. The reason for this is that you have a great deal of control of your opponent when you have them trapped in your closed guard.
With the closed guard, you wrap your legs around the opponent’s hips, interlocking your ankles behind them. By doing so, you limit their movement and posture. In BJJ, posture and mobility is key to getting into a more dominant position. You stop all that with your closed guard!
You control the game if your opponent cannot get out of your guard. In MMA, this might not be the case, since your opponent can reign down elbows and punches from the top. But in traditional grappling, you are in the dominant position if your opponent is in your closed guard. The main reason for this is that you typically cannot submit an opponent from inside their closed guard. So, the only real option for someone trapped in the guard is to try to get out!
The closed guard is regarded as both a defensive position and an offensive position. This is why its crucial to learn the basic fundamentals of this position! It’s a good idea to learn at least some basic submissions from closed guard.
Basic Submissions from Closed Guard
The closed guard can be regarded as the foundation of Jiu Jitsu. And yet, this is one of the positions that is neglected. It can be “boring” if the top player cannot pass and the guard player cannot submit or sweep their opponent. Some even say it’s a dying art. Todays generation prefer using more versatile open guard variations like Z-Guard, X-Guard, Butterfly Guard, etc.
But even today, top level grapplers like Kron Gracie, Bernardo Faria, Xande Ribeiro, and Demian Maia still continue to use it to submit their opponents. The closed guard is very powerful and extremely effective. It simply has the most setups and attack available to you. It might be the first position you may learn as a beginner in Jiu Jitsu, but it is regarded as one of the last ones you master. Here are three basic submissions from closed guard you should learn.
Arm Bar from Closed Guard
The arm bar won’t be needing any introductions. It is one of the oldest submissions in the books in grappling sports. It’s one of the most common submissions you might see in BJJ or even in MMA match. It’s a joint locking move that hyperextends the opponent’s arm. This move puts a great deal of pressure on the elbow. If your opponent doesn’t tap to this, their elbow will pop! It might be one of the most basic submissions from closed guard, but it is also one of the deadliest.
To set it up a basic arm bar from the guard, you must be able to control one of your opponent’s arm. There’s multiple ways to go on about setting up an arm bar but the end result is the same. The main goal is to be able to isolate one arm and creating an angle with your hips to hyperextend the arm.
For a basic setup, trap one arm by controlling the wrist with one hand. The opposite hand reaches across the same arm and grabs the elbow.
Next, you should be looking to create an angle. You do so by placing your leg on the hip on the same side that’s trapped. Use that to lift your hips up to create an angle. Your other leg chops down on their shoulder to break their posture.
Place your other leg over the head and squeeze down with your legs. Flex your feet and imagine kicking your heels to your butt. To finish up the submission, squeeze your thighs together, and thrust your hip upwards. This creates the tension on the opponent’s elbow. Make sure to have their thumb pointing upwards when you do this. It won’t take long for the tap!
Here’s a breakdown of the technique:
Triangle from Closed Guard
The Triangle Choke is one of the most popular submissions in BJJ and MMA. Originating in one of the earliest version of Judo, it was popularized when it was brought to mainstream MMA. Royce Gracie was the first to showcase the technique as he caught Dan Severn with this in UFC 4.
The Triangle Choke is a blood choke that is performed when the attacker traps the opponent’s head and arm with their legs. The attacker (typically from the bottom) places their leg behind the opponent’s neck while the other leg meets the other leg, forming a “figure-4” with both legs. With the arm and head both trapped between both legs, it creates a pressure that strangulates your opponent.
To setup your basic triangle from the closed guard, you first have to break your opponent’s posture. Ideally your opponent will be battling with you by having the arms in front of you and posturing their body up.
Grab both sleeves and pry them off your body by pulling straight up. At the same time, while your legs are interlocked between their hips, kick your knees towards your chest. This will force your opponent to crash down and lose their posture.
Moments after they lose their balance, you do a push pull motion with the sleeves that you are controlling. Push one arm out and pull one arm in. At the same time, hip your legs up and trap the head and arm. Interlock the ankles behind the neck.
To finish, you need to create the angle. Your calf should be directly behind the opponent’s neck. Your other leg then goes right on top of your ankle to complete the figure 4. Squeeze your legs together and pull the head down to finish!
Omoplata Arm Lock from Closed Guard
The Omoplata arm lock can be a great addition to the basic submissions from closed guard you should learn. This move is thought to have originated either from Judo or catch wrestling. Popularized by Nino Schembri, the Omoplata is an armlock that puts pressure on the opponent’s shoulder.
The submission is performed by locking the opponent’s with your legs as they are faced down on the mats. By controlling the opponent’s hips and pushing your hips forward, you force the opponent’s arm behind them, exerting a great deal of pressure on their shoulder.
To set it up, the first step is to get your opponent to post their hand on the mat. You do this by breaking their posture. Kick your knees to your chest as you have the closed guard locked around the hips. At the same time force your opponent’s hands off your chest. This will force them to have to catch themselves to break the fall by placing their hands on the mat.
Next, trap an arm by overhooking around it and grab the opposite lapel with that same hand. Afterwards, place your opposite leg on the opponent’s hip to start hip-escaping and twisting your body towards your opponent.
During this time, you should not be letting go of the over hook! With your free hand, grab your leg on the same side as the overhook. Remove the other leg off the opponent’s hip and make a figure 4 with your leg to trap the arm.
Grab the belt and use your legs for momentum to kick yourself to a seated position. Make sure to put your arm around their waist – this will prevent them from rolling away. To finish, simply hip escape until they flatten out. Lean forward and you should get a tap momentarily!
Chain Submission Attacks
The great thing about these three basic submissions from closed guard is that they are all interlinked together. You can be going for an arm bar submission and you can transition to either the Omoplata or the triangle choke. So, depending on how the opponent defends against the submission, you are able to alternate between the submissions with ease!
Check out this drill:
And that’s the great thing about the Closed Guard position. You can be setting up one move and go for a totally different one altogether! You have countless chain of attacks to choose from. You can set up an submission and as they defend it you go for a sweep or another submission. This is why the closed guard is deadly and crucial to add to your game!
The Closed Guard position remains to be one of the most powerful positions to be in. It might be one of the most traditional and first position you might learn, but it continues to be an extremely effective tool.
Even if you might not see it much in high level grappling matches today that doesn’t mean it has lost its effect. The reason for its loss in popularity might not be due to its loss of effectiveness, it might simply be that practitioners are evolving their game. High level grapplers might be so accustomed to breaking out of the closed guard that there is no choice but to switch to more versatile positions instead.
The Closed Guard is still one of the deadliest positions you can master from the bottom. You simply have the most options and variations from this position. You can setup various sweeps, alternate to a different move, and hit many submissions from here. There are plenty of moves from here, but these three basic submissions from Closed Guard is a great place to start!
These three basic attacks are your foundation to the closed guard. As you master these techniques, learn to transition chain attacks moving from one submission to the next, your guard game will be deadly!
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