Best open guard drills

I want to hear your opinions on what you think are some of the best open guard drills you can do to develop your open guard.

The thing is, I have the open guard drills from Michael Jen's Ultimate Guard tape series AND Roy Harris' BJJ 101 AND Roy Harris' website clips ( AND Nathan Leverton's guard tapes. I'll be getting Matt Thornton's guard tape any day now.

I'm not sure if I have time to practise ALL those drills. Which of these (feel free to add your own references) do you like the most, i.e. which have been the most helpful?



The Roy Harris ones from the site.

Thanks, buddy. I'll try them out, next or next-next practise and see how it goes.

For the record, could you perhaps explain quickly HOW those drills have helped your guard game?

jonpall - Do you have Jen's Ultimate Guard 2 tape?

Uchimatafan: Yeah.

One of the main differences between those Roy Harris drills (my link above in my first post) and Bolo's UG1 drills is that Roy has you put both feet on the hips or both feet on the biceps, while Bolo has you put one foot on hip and the other on the shoulder.

Discuss which method makes more sense, please.

Well first of all, when we're talking about open guard, defending passes is the most important thing. If you can't defend passes, then all the sweeps and submissions are useless.

These drills help you to defend against passes in several ways.

1) They give you specific techniques to counter specific passes.

2) They work at several stages into the pass. For example, clip 1 shows what to do as the opponent opens your guard. Clip 3 shows what to do when the opponent starts to underhook a leg. Clip 6 shows what to do when the opponent has the leg on shoulder and is starting to pass.

3) They demonstrate a lot of principles for holding open guard. Mainly, that to defend guard passes, you need a lot of space, and the best way to make space is to have your feet posted on the opponent's body. The main thing you should get from it is to always keep pummeling your feet back onto the opponent's body at the early stages of the pass. This is a lot easier than at the last minute.

I like to do these drills a lot. Basically I like to drill each move individually a few times, then just have the top person randomly start any of the passes. Starting slow, then with increasing speed. You don't need to learn each counter by heart. Once you know the basic idea of pummeling your feet back in, you can apply it to any pass.

One good drill for beginners is what I call 'running the body'.

Start with your partner standing and grip his sleeves/wrists.  Start with double instep hooks at the knees.  Now move one foot onto the hip, then the second foot, then move the first foot onto the bicep, then the second one.

Continue working your way up and down the body - it's almost like you are lightly running on him - moving one foot at a time.

Now change the  drill: start with the same grip and one foot on the bicep and the other foot hooking behind the knee with the instep.  Simulaneously switch both feet so that the foot that was on the bicep is now hooking at the knee and vica versa.  Do this a few times.

Now change the drill one last time: go with freelance foot placement and movement, with your partner moving randomly to the left, right, forward and backwards.

It may seem simple, but it's a great way to ingrain foot placement and the major open guard hooks (knee, hip, bicep) into beginners.  It's also a good, gentle warmup.

Thanks, Andrew and Stephan.


On those above clips, what Roy does against his opponent when he underhooks his leg interests me, but is Roy leaving out any details for this move? It sounds like he's reviewing something he has just taught.

Actually, is Roy leaving out any details in those clips?


About when your opponent underhooks your leg to throw it over his head and pass:

What I usually do it try to pull the other arm towards me and go for the triangle. If that fails, I go right into side mount escape mode with posture and all that package.

What Roy does on those clips, for those that haven't seen them, is push down on his opponent's forearm close to the wrist with the back of his thigh. He then circles his leg around the arm.

I'm going to try this out next practise, but I'm wondering - against a strong opponent that wants to put your leg on his shoulder, is it enough to simply put the back of your thigh on his forearm close to his wrist? Am I missing something here? Any details that will make or break this technique?

Other methods I have seen elsewhere is hooking under your opponent's own thigh with your foot, like you were doing an elevator sweep.

The clips were from a class or seminar. He didn't post the whole seminar on the Internet. What's there is what was posted.

You should ask him on his forum.

Thanks, guys.

Here are additional questions, to put a bit more meat on this thread's bones:

1. What's the best way (or a good way) to get out of the situation when my opponent simply holds both my ankles with his hands? I've found out that simply circling with my feet seems to require too much strength (maybe I'm doing it wrong). Also, can I get out of this hold without using my arms?

2. When my opponent starts to wrap his arm around one of my legs and drop back for an ankle lock, is there a way to stop or counter this without using my arms? I'm guessing that it would be harder without my arms, but I've heard about certain black belts' guards being unbeatable even without them using their arms, so I guess it's possible somehow.


1.holding them to the ground?? need to turn to an angle that turns your heel twords opponents if i sit back with ur right ankle you rotate ur foot clockwise....then pull it out...

theres other counters also....

as far as drills 4 guard...just start everyone in ur guard and work it....forget about winning,and treat it as time spent making urself better...that is what i did to develop my guard game...well ive done the same with every posision...

"When my opponent starts to wrap his arm around one of my legs and drop back for an ankle lock, is there a way to stop or counter this without using my arms?"

If they're standing up here is a counter, but you kinda have to use your hands, not really though. Basically if they wrap your ankle: say their right arm around your left ankle, you spin on your back in towards them. Use your right arm to hook around the outside of their right leg to help pull yourself through and all the way around fast. This will either get you out of danger or sometimes the position you end up in will off balance your opponent and by tripping up his leg with your hands and pushing his entangled arm with your entangled leg you can sweep them(if they don't let go that is). This "could" be done without the arms, but I'd use the arms just to get the extra speed at doing it.


i like the drill where you put your hands under your own belt and have to play your open guard with just your legs. its also a great ab workout.