guard recovery tips (no gi)

I just switched form gi to nogi and I want to concentrate on that in-between guard game. Where your opponent has passed your legs but he has yet to secure any type of side control. What are some of your tips and details to gain the guard back or prevent the side control. C'mon brown/black belts!

I always scoot my hips out to face him and sit up and try to wedge my knee in and get the underhook on the opposite arm. This is all I have. I would like to work on getting to my knees w/o exposing my back. Is the halfguard a good option from here?

Try reseting not after hes past your legs but as soon as hes off to a good start on a strong pass. Id rather start over fresh than allow him the chance to sucessfully pass and transition to side.

I try to reset whenever things arent more or less neutral or in my favor

lets say he is passing to your right. Sit up as much as you can, push his left tricep toward your feet with your left hand and post on your right, do this while pulling your right leg back through and wrapping guard.

another thing to try, try to get an underhook (or more importantly, prevent him from getting the underhook) on the arm that is oppisite the side he is passing, this way you don't get flattened so easily

I don't know if you know the following principle(s), but someone reading this might not:

To pass your guard and settle into side mount he has to stop or restrict your hip movements. This applies to both gi and no-gi grappling.

So, with the open guard - at ALL times - keep distance between your hips and his, by making sure that one or both of your legs are always in one of several good positions:

Good places to push with your legs are putting your feet on his hips or even shoulders or biceps or thighs. You can also push his shoulders away with your knees. Another good leg controlling position is hooking your instep(s) beneath his leg(s) (f.ex. to do the elevator sweep).

I've found out that a common denominator for most guard-retaining techniques (i.e. he does move X to pass, so you do move Y to regain guard) is that AS LONG AS ONE OF YOUR LEGS IS IN ONE OF THE ABOVE CONTROLLING POSITIONS, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO MOVE YOUR HIPS AWAY FROM HIS, WHEN HIS HIPS ARE CLOSING IN ON YOURS!

Think about it - when he passes OVER one of your legs, your hip movements will be restricted because of his shin on top of your thigh and his underhook on the other side. If you have one or both legs in one of those above mentioned positions, his knee CAN'T slide over your thigh, because you will be able to either push him backwards or sweep him with an elevator sweep. (Below, I talk about good arm positions. One of them is the underhook on the opposite side that he's passing. If you have that, you can take his back fairly easily when he passes over your thigh.)

About passing UNDER one of your legs:

If he doesn't completely take away the pushing and hooking positions of BOTH your legs when he passes under one of your legs, and simply THROWS your leg over his head in a sloppy manner, you should be able to scoot your hips out (because you still have some pushing or hooking abilities) and re-guard him (or turn under him into the front turtle and single or double leg him or something). So he has to make sure that you don't f.ex. insert an elevator with your underhooked leg and that your free leg isn't pushing or hooking anywhere on his body. Otherwise, he will not pass your guard (if your guard work is fairly decent).

Finally, to pass to the SIDE of your legs and get his knee on your stomach, he has to THROW BOTH your legs to one side. NEVER let both your legs go out of those good positions I mentioned above. Otherwise you'll have to go into side mount escape mode (which you actually should get very good at ASAP!).

So you have to move your hips, constantly, both for retaining your guard AND attacking.

But don't neglect the effort to keep space between your chest and his chest. This you do mainly with arm pushing motions.

Good places to push with your arms are f.ex. putting a forearm in his throat or hand in his chin, or even hand in his ribs/armpit. The underhook is also good.

Just note that as soon as you've created some space between your chest and his, it's probably a good idea to start to PULL with your arms, as opposed to push. His guard passes will be hampered if he can't use one or both of his arms AND it will protect you better for footlocks and strikes if one or both of those are allowed.

If he sits too far up and away from you, don't try TOO hard to pull him down. Instead, I'd recommend going to the butterfly guard, as with that type of guard you WANT him to be upright. In BJJ, you go with the flow and don't force anything (too much). The spider guard is good, too.

If he stands up and/or starts poking a knee through your legs, the de la riva guard is good.

Hope this rambling helps in any way. I'm writing this down like this because I'm teaching this stuff to my students. It helps to note things down.


Check out the article here.

wow. great article

thanks for all who had input.

also, if you have a good 1/2 guard, you will be a lot more used to the motions involved in pass prevention.

For sure. I am definately working on my half-guard game right now. I was never aware that it was such a versatile position. I think in order to have a really great guard you need a great halfguard.

you have to be on your side in the 1/2 guard, which is very important to an open guard. If you watch good 1/2 guard players they almost always have thier opp. weight off to the side so they don't get flattened out, then as soon as the opp gets close enough to flatten them they underhook the leg and ball up. Its frustrating rolling with guys with good 1/2 guards because it seems they can always get there from side control, so you end up wasting a lot of energy passng for nothing.

watching Eddie Bravo and Jean Jacque I recognize that underhook the leg/balling up from the half-guard. They seem to always be on their sides. I def. have to work on that.

say you have his right leg clamped with your legs. You stay on the side of your body and you reach and underhook his left leg, bringing yourself tight to him. In this case, you use your right arm to underhook his left leg.

I don't know what the exact theory is, but it is really a tough guard to crack for the top guy. Both of your leg are immobilized and your base is also being disrupted. I've only experimented with this recently. Check and look for the eddie bravo or perhaps check out his dvd he's selling right now. From what I heard, he really really favors this 1/2 guard. Also watch JJM vs. Matt Serra where you see him use this guard among other of his matches.

Really good thread!

For the half guard leg underhook sweep - check out this recent thread:


Here's a good move when your opponent sits back in your guard and starts pushing the inside of your thighs down with your elbow or elbows (I learned this one from Roy Harris' forum, and use it often):

Grab the back of one elbow, so he can only push ONE of your thighs down. It will be very hard to do this move if you don't. (Actually, it can be very good to grab the back of BOTH his elbows, as doing simply that can completely stop the "elbows in thigh" guard pass a lot of the time. And for many beginners, this is the only guard pass they know.)

Anyway, you grab the back of one elbow (same side grip). Let's say that you grab his right elbow with your left hand. Just before you feel that he's about to break your guard open and push your right thigh down, open your guard and put your right foot on the ground. Your knee must be pointing straight up - don't let him push it to the outside.

Next, you slide your hips out to the right (YOUR right), turn to your left side, and put your left foot on his hip. Now you'll notice that your right knee is pointing up AND a bit to the left. Using this move, it will be VERY hard for your opponent to push your thigh all the way down - he has no leverage, as they say.

Now you can go to any type of open guard you want. Good ones are f.ex. the spider guard or the butterfly guard.