The Worm Guard in BJJ: One of the Most Difficult Guard to Handle

The Worm Guard in BJJ: One of the Most Difficult Guard to Handle

New guards are always being developed in BJJ and they just keep getting more and more diverse! We’ve advanced from open guards like the De La RivaSpider Guard, Lapel Guard, and Spider/Lasso. And some more complex guards continue to develop. One of those guards is called the Worm Guard. 

worm guard

The Worm Guard is a highly effective guard that has become one of the most difficult to handle in BJJ. Let’s go over the origins of the Worm Guard BJJ and see if we can break down how to do it! 

Origins of The Worm Guard

The Worm Guard Bjj came from the mind of Keenan Cornelius. One of the top grapplers in BJJ today. Keenan is a grappler that is always looking to be innovative. He loves trying new things and coming up with techniques that are diverse and super effective.  

Cornelius loves working with lapels in his Jiu Jitsu game. The reason for this is because of the control you have when you have an opponent’s lapel. It’s completely different than any other type of grip.  

Collar grips push and pull an open, while sleeve grips are generally for pulling the opponent. But a lapel grip can turn and rotate an opponent.  

It makes it very hard to pass your guard when you have a lapel grip. Keenan understood this, so he began developing this lapel grip into a new guard.  

He began testing a new guard, where he would use the lapel and weave it through his legs. After a lot of trial and error, he came up with the Worm Guard BJJ.  

But just what exactly is the worm guard BJJ?   

It can be sort of described to be a mix of Lapel, De La Riva and Spider Guard all in oneWith the worm guard, you typically have the opponent's lapel wrapped down and around their opposite leg. This heavily breaks the opponent’s posture down, making it very hard to move freely.  

This guard compromises the opponent’s base making it hard for them to pass and opens up multiple sweep options. Another great thing is you can set it up from nearly every guard, except closed guard.  

Keenan has used this guard with great success in competition. He has used it effectively on world champions like Leandro Lo.  Now, Keenan has even made an in-depth instructional video and book on his BJJ Worm Guard.  

The Worm Guard has been proven to be quite effective for grapplers that take the time to learn it. Now in competitions, you have to have an understanding of the Worm Guard and how to use/defend it.

How To Set Up/Pull Worm Guard

Using the lapel to set up Worm guard BJJ is a great technique and addresses the problems with normal guard pulls. In a normal guard pull, where you put your foot on the hip has a couple problems.  

The first is you fully commit to falling to the side where you placed your foot on the opponent’s hip. Second flaw is it is easy to defend and opponent’s can just grab your pants and turn you to pass. You miss your guard pull and now the opponent has side control.  

When you have the lapel and pull guard, you sit further back and pull the opponent into you. Much safer than a traditional guard pull. Now you’re ready to set up your BJJ Worm Guard. 

You can either have a De La Riva or Spider Guard before you set up your Worm Guard. Take the lapel and pull it under your near leg that should be on their hip. Your other hand reaches around their other leg and you pass the lapel to that hand.  

After that just fall back and you have Worm Guard BJJ. There is heavy pressure on their posture making them really easy to sweep.  

Here is the creator of the Worm Guard himself Keenan Cornelius going over these key details for the setup. 

Worm Guard to Back Take

There is a great back take option from the Worm Guard. Start with your normal Worm Guard grips and pass the lapel to the other hand palm down.  

Now all you have to do is Berimbolo to their back. Take your foot hooking around their leg and place in front of their leg shin to shin. Berimbolo to the back, pull down on the opponent’s pants or belt to bring them down and establish back control.

Watch this short video from BJJ Fanatics for a visual.

An Easy Sweep From Worm Guard

If you know the basic sweep from Sit-Up Guard, you can do the same one from the Worm Guard. Once you’re in Worm Guard, re-pass the lapel to your other hand.  

Then to sweep your opponent all you have to do is put your leg behind theirs and push them backwards. Very simple and efficient sweep you can watching in this video. 

Rolling Armbar From Worm Guard

You can get a cool rolling armbar from the Worm Guard. After you get in position and re-grab the lapel with your other hand like with the back take.  

Then take your foot from behind the opponent’s leg and go shin on shin. Now you’re going to do a front roll and on the roll through, you grab their arm for the armbar.  

Watch this video for a visual of the technique. 

Key Details of The Worm Guard

This guard may look really complicated, but there’s actually only a few steps involved. Particularly 2 important details to make the guard work. 

  • Wrap the Lapel Around Your Leg: Remember that Worm Guard is when you wrap the lapel around your leg before you pass it. Just passing the lapel to your hand under the opponent’s leg will work, but that’s the Lapel Guard. A good guard, but it isn't Worm Guard. 

    Worm Guard is when you wrap the opponent’s lapel around your leg before passing it under their leg. Wrap it around their ankle for a good tight control. 
  • Pass the Lapel Under the Opponent’s Leg: The other big mistake people make when attempting the Worm Guard is forgetting to pass the lapel under the opponent's leg. 

    If you forget this step, you really don’t have a guard or control of the opponent. They can just step out to pass your legs. Remember that you need to lace the lapel under their leg in order to be in Worm Guard. 

Final Thoughts

Worm Guard may seem a little complicated for beginner grapplers, but it looks more complicated than it really is. However, knowing the basics of other guards like De La Riva, Lapel, and Sit-Up Guard will make learning Worm Guard easier.  

Take the time to drill this guard and you will get it down pretty easy. Knowing the Worm Guard will make your guard game highly effective – it’ll make a lot of your opponent's think twice before stepping into your open guard. Once you grab hold of that lapel – it’s game time!