Climbing to high guard

I just got the Functional JKD Series 2 set and it's simply great. In it, Matt shows how to walk your legs up from the guard to go for the "pit stop" (aka. "high guard") and armbars.

Although I'm already having some success with the high guard, I'd like to understand how to GET there a bit better. Matt talks about how sweeps and disengaging can set up your climbs and that makes sense.

However, what often stops my own climbs is when my opponent places his elbow on the outside of my hip, blocking my hip and preventing my leg to go higher.

How can I get to the high guard when my opponent knows that keeping his elbow on the outside of my hips stops my from getting there????

I have had some success with simply grabbing his head and wrist and pushing his wrist towards his stomach. My opponent will often think that I'm going for a "push hand through leg" triangle choke and will react by moving his elbow forwards and in. Then I get climb to the high guard.



my favorite way to remedy this situation is to attempt an arm-crush submission from the guard first -

i'll double underhook one of my opponents arms behind his shoulders and begin to pull & scoot out until his arm straightens unto my own shoulder. most people at this point will begin to turn their wrist palm upward and withdraw their elbow back towards their own body -its at this point that their arm will be traveling across your torso, out of posture, and thats the opportunity i take to climb and cover a shoulder.

if the countering motion is too quick for me to catch with a good climbing guard then i'll use my opponents momentum and help him push his arm (by holding at the wrist) and proceed with the "pedge of allegiance" hand on chest Triangle set-up that you mentioned earlier.

one of my students is also really adept at sitting up and threatening kimuras/guillotines in order to swing and climb over the side he was just attacking when the opponent eventually pushes him back down to the mat

hope that helps and makes sense.

Thanks. I have actually tried that sometimes and sometimes that has worked.

I guess what confused me a bit was that Matt didn't really say what to do with your arms when you practise that climbing armbar.

My following guess is that he did that because he wanted you to focus on the climbing movements of your legs and sort of figure out the various arm movements (f.ex. grabbing the wrist, pulling the head, arm drag, etc.) while sparring. Am I right?


Yes, you can use all sorts of hand grips with a high-climbing guard. Experiment and find what works best.

When I teach this to people who are just learning it for the first time I teach with a same side single neck tie with one arm, and a cross over grab on the tricep with the other arm. After I capture the climb with the legs I switch the neck tie arm to a palm on shoulder grip, with my wrist in the throat.

The single neck tie makes it harder for them to pull out while you climb, and after securing the climb that forearm in throat makes it harder for them to stack you.

Other options include wrist grip set ups such as Baret Yoshida does. Cross under grips as taught by Rick Williams in the ABJJ series. Underhooks such as Christian mentioned, etc.

Many-many options. . . .just develop a solid climb first, and the rest will develop quite naturaly.

"When you argue with what is you lose. . .but only 100% of the time."

Thanks a millon, Matt!

Speaking of Baret, he will be teaching at Canada's Best Karate in
Kingston next Tuesday (June 29) from 7:00 PM until 10:00 PM. The
cost for the workshop will be $65.00 Canadian.

To reserve a spot (I will not be doing at-the-door registration), call me
at 613-547-2822.


DUDE! That is so key, I am VERY jealous! No way I can make it, but that is awesome. You definitely have to review the seminar and tell us what it was like to roll with him afterwards!


Good info


"DUDE! That is so key"

Okay, so either my age or my "non-coolness" is showing. "so key"? WTF?

LOL, sorry, JKDFIGHTER - I'm a big Baret Yoshida fan, and in my enthusiasm, I momentarily reverted to a fifteen year old. I haven't used that phrase in years, and I'm pretty sure that no current self-respecting teenager would have any idea what the hell I was talking about if he heard it. East Coast, Pittsburgh, 10 years ago, it used to mean that something was "very very good". ;)


I just found out that Baret will NOT be coming.

That is so NOT key:(



LOL!! Okay, that makes me feel a little better! I was starting to reeeeeaaaally feel out of the loop!

If I did that, I'd be saying, "Dude, that's RADICAL"!! So, how bad is THAT? God, I'm getting old.

Ok, I'm gonna slide in a final question on the climbing guard:

My other problem with the climb is when my opponent pushes with one or two hands on my chest. By doing that, he can push his head away, too far away for me to armbar him. This just stops my climb, as simple as that.

My guess is that I should try to climb my legs/hips more up the side of his back and not the middle of his back, so my hips close into his shoulder instead of his neck. Anyone got any tips for doing that, or just tips for improving the climb in general?

I find the following helpful when my opponet has high head posture
with his arms on my chest and I can't get my foot around his head:

From closed guard, control both of his arms by cupping his elbows to
prevent him from pulling them back toward his chest.

Open your guard and slide your hips slightly to the left assisted by
placing your right calf high on his back/behind his left shoulder. Your
right leg in this position is the first to start the climb and gives you a
lever to pop your hips up and kick your left leg up and onto his right
shoulder. It's also important to be pushing down with your right calf,
not only to help you move out your hips, but to also breakdown his
base slightly to his right (your left).

As you are shifting your hips and opening your legs up to get them
into position for the high guard, be sure to keep control on his right
arm and stuff it more toward your center so that his right elbow is
above your pelvis still being stopped by your cupping left hand.

At this point your left leg should be on his right shoulder, your right
calf is high on his back, his right arm is trapped between your legs, his
left arm overtop of your right leg, and you are slightly at a 90 deg
angle. You are essentially in a high guard, or I've also heard it referred
to as a "pit stop".

Cross your feet and get a double wrist grip on his right arm. Lift your
hips and you should have a really tight armbar on his right arm.

Instinctively he might pressure foward and try to stack you before you
arch your his for the arm lock. If he does this you can transition into
an omoplata on his left arm.

Christian deserves the credit for showing me these.



One more question: How does climbing fit in with being on your side when you are at the bottom of the guard?

In the basic climbing drill on Matt's tapes, Matt was basically lying on both his shoulder blades. If you are lying on your side, I'd think that the climb would be more difficult because you can only really climb with one of your legs, i.e. the one that's higher than the other one.

"One more question: How does climbing fit in with being on your side when you are at the bottom of the guard?"

When teaching Jits I think it's important to distinguish semanticly between a pivot and a shrimp. Both are obvious hip movements, but very different. Armbars and triangles require pivots; kimuras, escapes, etc, require shrimps.

"When teaching Jits I think it's important to distinguish semanticly between a pivot and a shrimp. Both are obvious hip movements, but very different. Armbars and triangles require pivots; kimuras, escapes, etc, require shrimps."

hey Matt - i always make this distinction when teaching an armbar or any other form or climbing attack. its still a big pet peeve of mine to see a beginner attempt an armbar by shrimping intead of pivoting in order to climb. i'll always make it clear that the shrimp/scoot motion will create space, and in that climbing armbar situation you want the exact opposite effect.

however, whenever i'd attempt a climbing armbar on an opponent who stacks hard and likes to tripod base i found it too difficult to properly pivot, even though they were giving me the arm. then i watched the Fedor/Coleman fight and i realized that when the opponent is stacking that its ok to scoot out, alleviate that pressure, and create a different angle to climb up the body. thats what Fedor did to armbar Coleman. so what ends up happening is the opponents base disolves and you usually end up spinning underneath the opponents legs and coming out the back door cuz of the momentum. i used to do this a lot when i all i would know how to do was play closed guard and climb, i've been away from that game and i guess i forgot the distinction but its really helped me understand and teach the climbing attacks a little better.

Opp's upright base = pivot and climb up

Opp's stacking/leaning foward (to where his head is directly above yours) = scoot, climb, and spin underneath the legs

Great point Christian, if the guy is trying to stack you have to shrimp to get out of there.