Fundamentals of the Closed Guard

What are some tips for developing a good closed guard.


You mean besides the obvious "practice" right?

Try 1 handed or no-handed for a bit. When your opponent passes, start over.

I still suck though.


Open it.

Your guard game will become infinitely better if you stop allowing yourself to cross your ankles (except for things like triangles, of course).

While I understand that yes, there are things that you can do from the closed guard, you will not learn to move your hips well unless you start opening them and moving your legs at all angles. So learn to use the open guard, and then you'll have skills that will translate back to the closed guard.


"The guard is only as good as what you do with it."

Control his sleeves to get him off balance, pull as high up as possible, also look for one sleeve and one knee, just grab the cloth that bunchs at the knee and start looking for your sweeps or subs by diturbing his base....Joe Hurst

get your hand deep into the lapel so that at anytime you can swing your second hand over and choke the guy. too many people just put their hand in the lapel but dont get it deep enough. when i get into my guard, i immediately try to get my palm where the tag of a shirt would be. this way, your opponent is in constant fear of a choke, which sets up a lot of things for you as he plays defense.

What about as far as No-gi grappling?

For maintaining your closed guard in no-gi grappling one of the most important things to learn is to break his posture down. Some generalized ways to do this are to pull his head down, and/or climb your legs up and/or pull his elbows to the side and/or pummeling your arms into a good position (underhooks, two-on-ones, etc.)

Breaking his posture will make it very difficult for him to open and pass your guard and make it easier for you to launch your attack (the 5 'S' options from the guard: stall, sweep, submit, strike, standup)

Stephan Kesting

Good post, Stephan. Personally, my closed guard became a lot better all of a sudden when I tried to have it closed right under my opponent's armpits (as Stephan mentions with his "climbing legs") instead of around the guy's waist. It's much harder to break the guard open with an elbow on the inner thigh or knee in the tailpipe if you have your guard closed high like that.

And now for a shameless plug: Nathan Leverton has very good posture breaking techniques for the no-gi guard on his guard tapes on There is actually a pretty long section on how to break down several kinds of posture on those tapes. There are two tapes. The first one is JUST about positional dominance with the no-gi guard, posture-breaking techniques included, with emphasis on hip movement, leg movement and "wrestling-like" tie-ups to control your opponent. Interestingly enough, the first tape is called "The fundamentals of the attacking guard", which should pretty much answer this thread's original question. Then the second tape goes into attacks from each of those tie-ups. And no, I don't work for Nathan.

"And no, I don't work for Nathan."

LOL, they probably all think I am you :o)

Thanks for the plug Jon.


Nathan: He, he, ok, maybe you're right. But we are both from Europe and it seems that most people here are from the US and don't really know about your tapes. I think it's a shame. The only reason I'm plugging them is because that they have really helped me with my problems and pretty much every week I see a question posted here that could be answered with your tapes. Also, because you've been kind enough to answer a few of my questions by email, I feel the need to refer to your tapes when I see those questions, instead of being silent about it and keeping all the good information on them for myself.

But of course they aren't the ONLY superb tapes on the market. I've seen others, like some of Michael Jen's and some of Sperry's, for example. I'm about to get Matt Thornton's tapes soon. In fact, I think that if you want to REALLY learn about a specific subject, you should learn from as many people as you can. Too bad for your bank account, because that means ultimately buying from more than one source.

karazy: Yes the high guard is featured on Nathan's guard tapes. It's also featured on Michael Jens Ultimate Guard 2 (the fourth tape in the whole series. It's called Intermediate closed guard, I think).

On Nathan tapes, you'll also see a lot of sparring footage that has the high guard. Up until watching this footage, I was one of the gazillion people that couldn't do an armbar from the no-gi guard.

In fact, Matt Thornton has just made a review of Nathan's guard tapes on his JKD forum. You can see the review, along with 2 hottie pictures :) here:

I agree with all of you.....focusing a lot on your control is one of the best things you can do.