The Epic Cross Guard Tutorial

More cross guard tutorials can be found on

When I first put together these tutorials, Trog didn't want me to put them out unless he felt they adequately expressed these points. He said he'd rather just trash it than put out a bad instructional, since he doesn't want people getting messed up for trying clunky Internet Jiu-Jitsu.

And it just so turns out that Trog wasn't happy with the first run of photos we took, and so this wasn't going to be put up. But after showing it to a couple people in private, I found that if someone really wanted to get this game, they would still be able to learn a lot from this, especially if they took the time to go over it in detail and get a feel for it first.

Heartened to hear this, Trog retook some of it and added more details to make up for what he felt was lacking in the first set. I also found footage of it being taught and used in competition, so the motion of the sweeps can be show in real time too.

What I find really interesting is how he developed his cross guard game without the aid of instructionals. Only recently has he been watching Tinguinha's and Pe de Pano's instructionals on it, but what you'll learn here came mostly from his own experimentation with the basic he learned from Eduardo, our instructor. If you've seen those videos, you'll see how Trog has a slightly different style and does some of the positions and grips differently.

Basic Grips, Positioning and Sweep

There are several ways to grip and to get to cross guard, but he is the safest way that Trog does.

With his right hand, he cross grips their sleeve. You can use a claw grip, but Trog uses a pistol grip since it is less stressful on his fingers.

He grabs their leg with his left hand. Here he is grabbing the fabric of the pants, but you can also underhook the leg (as we'll do later).

Trog said he started gripping the pants after watching Pe de Pano use it in competition, since you can keep the grip when they stand, which isn't easy with the underhook. He still underhooks the leg a lot, but he's started using this grip more for standing guys (and for me, since I get him with my reverse omoplata passes, where I take the crucifix instead of passing his guard).

Next, how he gets to the official cross guard position. He uses a few other positions before going to it, which allow him to get there securely.

When he first opens his guard, he brings his knee across their chest. They'll often drive into you when you open like this so having the knee there helps him control the space

He'll drive his knee into the chest and stretch his body out to force their weight back. He's creating space to start bringing his leg over their head.

With them shoved back, he'll bring his foot up and step on their biceps and shoulder to create even more space. He said to expect them to grab your pants if you do this for more than a second.

With all that space opened up, he can throw his leg over to the other side of their head and start playing cross guard proper.

Now we'll show how he plays with their weight and posture, and how it sets up one of the main sweeps.

He'll press down on their head with his right leg and try to make them fall to the right. They'll naturally resist and drive back to the left. This kind of pressure, putting weight on their head and trying to make them lean different directions and resist is a fundamental part of this game.

When the resist being pushed over and come back into you, shoot your hips up and to the left, like you want to nail their shoulder with your butt.

Continuing the motion. His hips are still making hard contact with the shoulder as he comes up. The grip on the sleeve is extremely important so they don't pull their arm out.

This hip movement is the part that Trog has the hardest time showing in photos since it has to be done quickly and when their weight is moving to the left. You won't get this sweep from a static position. You've got to have good timing and be able to launch your hips up well.

As they fall and he comes up, he pulls their leg out and lifts it by the pants. This breaks their base and prevents them from fighting to stay on their knees.

Just another shot so you can see how he controls the sleeve and the pants as he comes up to sitting. The grip on the sleeve is still extremely important so they don't pull out, and the grip on the pants helps prevent them from turning to their knees.

Maintaining all his grips, he scoots his butt so he's sitting on their arm as he turns towards their legs. You'll be familiar with how to finish this sweep if you do a lot of omoplata sweeps, since they end in the same position.

He keeps turning until he can put the arm that was gripping the knee on the far side of their body, like he's going for reverse scarf hold.

With their upper body now locked down, he can release their sleeve and start doing side control however he feels like.

This sweep is one of the moves we reshoot since Trog didn't feel the motion of it was accurately captured. But rather than let the photos go to waste, I felt I would include them so you could see the sweep done with a slightly different entry and grips.

From closed guard, cross grip the sleeve with your right hand.

Reach under the knee with your left hand.

Open your guard and step on the ground with your right foot to turn your hips clockwise. Keep your left leg somewhat tight to the body: you will need it to create resisting pressure.

Swing your right leg out...

...and pass it to the other side of their head. Keep your hips very loose by lifting them and rolling your shoulders, so you can spin on your back.

With your legs, pressure them back and to the right, so they defend by pushing their weight back.

When they push back, shoot your hips up against their right shoulder. You need to get up on your shoulders and launch your hips like you want to shoot back and to the left.

As your hips shoot up into their shoulder, they'll fall back to their right.

After sweeping them back, you will be sitting on their arm with it between your legs. Turn towards their legs and reach for their far side with your left arm. Keep the grip on their sleeve until you secure the cross body position.

Post your left hand by their far side.

Turn towards their legs and post your right hand by their near side.

Turn all the way and come to your knees, establishing side control.

You can see this sweep taught with an alternate finish here:

That will show the motion of it better, but I feel you need to get them off balance and resisting first to get them to fall for this sweep, otherwise you'll shot over and land on your knees while they're still just kneeling behind you.

This next sweep is how Trog counters people trying to drive their knees though his cross guard. You can also get the same sweep when people do this to your De la Riva guard.

You'll notice that this is almost the same sweep as above, only applied to a different situation.

We join the action with Trog already in cross guard. His opponent has stood and is trying to drive his knee though his guard to pin his leg and defend submissions.

From here you can see how he's gripping the pants. If you got here from De la Riva, you'd be grabbing the back of the ankle.

When he feels they are really trying to drive their knee though to the ground on the other side of his knee, he turns his hips and brings his legs to that side.

Here's where we try to slow time so you can understand the hip movement. He straightens his whole body, shooting his legs and and tries to launch his hips up and over to the left.

Action shot of his hips shooting up and his opponent fall over.

Shooting his hips up and over to the side collapses their base.

He stretches their leg out with his grip on the pants, and he keeps a grip on their sleeve. Continue to side control as shown earlier.

This sweep looks and feels counter-intuitive. How am I sweeping him to that side if he's driving his knee in so hard? That's the problem I have with this sweep. It just doesn't feel like it shoulder work.

Strangely, the only reason you can sweep him like this is because he is putting so much weight on that knee. When he does so, he commits himself all to that side, and that's what makes you able to knock him over. If he's not really driving his knee that heavily or his weight is on the other leg, you won't get this sweep.

Trog said he rolls with a guy who will purposely try to get you to do this sweep, since he knows how to pull out when you shoot your hips, and you'll just fly past him and he'll take your back. So only go for this when you feel they are really committing themselves to driving the knee to the ground over your leg.

Trog also said it took trying this (and the last sweep, which is similar) "a million times" and failing it before he started getting it. Now he's sweeping Eduardo with it. It just took time to get down the timing, how you work with their weight, how you launch your hips up at different angles and the details on the grips.

You can see Pe de Pano get his sweep in competition here:

You can also see how he plays cross guard in general, and how he seamlessly moves between many other guards using the same grips. Everyone I know who's playing cross guard now watches that video constantly since it contains so much of the game.

This next sweep has to be used in combination with the first one. You go hard for the first sweep, and if they defend then they are susceptible to the this, and vice versa. This isn't a sweep you will easily get from a static position. You have to switch back and forth back and forth, depending on which side their weight is on.

You're going for the first cross guard sweep, but they're countering by driving their weight forward and hugging your leg.

Shoot your hips high in the air like your going for the first sweep. If they don't fall its because their base is heavy in the other direction.

Switch your grip to their left elbow.

Shoot your hips with as much force as possible in the opposite direction now.

They fall to their left.

It's hard to show this motion with photos, but you shouldn't land here. You should land on their chest, or even better, all the way over on their far side.

Keep riding up over them to land on their far side.

Turn towards them and come to your knees to establish a top position of some sort.

Trog says he doesn't use this sweep as much any more since it usually ends in a scramble. You'll usually land sitting on their chest, so a good wrestler will knock you back down to your guard as they get up. Even if the sweep does work, you usually have to scramble to stay on top since there isn't as much control and a firm place to finish.

When you're in the initial position to get these two submissions, the important point is that you first try hard for the sweeps. When it fails, it is because the opponent has postured or dropped their weight to the other side.

If they posture, you get the triangle. If they drop their weight to the other side, you get the omoplata.

First the triangle.

You're in going for the first sweep and their left arm is out of your guard. They are resisting by posturing.

Pass your right leg to the other side of their head.

Grab your right shin with your left hand and pull down to break their posture. Cross their trapped arm. Step on their hip with your left foot to turn your hips and keep your knee squeezed against their shoulder so they can't pull their arm out.

Lock the triangle.

Reach inside the knee with your right hand and pull yourself to it to turn yourself far a strong finishing angle.

Now the omoplata.

You're entering cross guard with all your grips in place. This time, instead of passing your right leg to the other side of their body, you're just pressing you knee in against them.

You are pushing into them with your left leg and they push back. At the same time, shove their arm back so their arm is wrapping your thigh as you chop your calf into their armpit.

Keep chopping down with your leg, driving their shoulder down as you spin out.

Triangle your legs around their arm to secure the position.

Take your arm out from under their leg and grab their belt. Keep holding their wrist down by your hip so they don't uncross it and escape.

Untriangle your legs and drive your left leg flat to the ground to force the shoulder down as you use the other to scoot your hips away and turn slightly on your left side. The grip on the belt keeps them from rolling out and escaping.

Finish like normal.

This is how Trog uses his cross guard game to setup the pendulum sweep.

You've setup the cross guard: cross grip on the sleeve, underhooking the knee, guard open, hips turned out.

Trog says that he likes to play cross guard with his right knee pressing against the body, under their arm, like this. He uses his knee and shin to push them away and control their weight and posture.

Use you left leg and right knee to push them back and to the right, so they resist and push back.

To fight getting swept, they drive in and try to crush your bent leg.

Grab their elbow with your right hand.

Kick your right leg through and swing it out, turning your hips clockwise, as you begin the pendulum sweep.

Use your left leg in their armpit to roll them and lift their knee to continue the sweep.

Keep ahold of the leg until you come into mount.

Drop a couple elbows to the face.

A while back I posted a sweep and choke where you start taking the back, get the collar grip, then pendulum sweep them into the bow-and-arrow choke. Trog said he just wanted to show the whole move then, but that he actually gets it a more simple way.

This choke isn't from the "cross guard" position where you're already all to one side, but he considers it part of that game since it uses the same cross grip on the sleeve. This also shows the versitility of the game, since you can use the same grip to armdrag and take the back if they are fighting you going to the normal cross guard.

Cross grip the sleeve and figure-four your arms to break the (non-existant, in this photo) grip on your lapel. Do a crunch to bring your head and chest up. This cocks you into place for the grip break.

Arch your back and stretch out as you bench his arm straight up, breaking his grip.

In the same motion, pull his arm across as you sit up and hug his back.

Escape your hips slightly to the side so you are sitting on his knee.

Opposite angle: You can see how your hips are turned to one side, you're hugging over his back and you've still got his arm pulled across your body.

When they try to sit back and posture up, bring your hips higher, closing them so you're around their waist, sitting up on the top of their leg.

The arm that was grabbing the back reaches around their head and grabs their collar.

This has all been like we showed in the first sweep, but here is where it splits off. Instead of reaching under the far leg like a pendulum sweep, Trog does this:

Reach under your own body, grabbing the wrinkled fabric outside their near knee.

Now open your guard and swing your hips out and lift them with your legs like you're doing a pendulum sweep.

When they flip over, you've already got the grip on their near pant leg.

Cross your legs over his far arm to lock down his upper body. You can also switch to hugging on the near leg instead of just holding the pants.

Like before, you can also switch to the single wing choke by passing your arm under his arm and behind his head.

excellent breakdown!! my second favorite guard - works well for me against smaller quicker guys.

First of all, great tutorial, thanks for posting this.

Second, I have a question:

"I feel you need to get them off balance and resisting first to get them to fall for this sweep, otherwise you'll shot over and land on your knees while they're still just kneeling behind you."

What do you or Trog or other cross guard players usually do to keep the game going if this happens to you? (Opponent kneeling behind you when your sommersault sweep has failed) I know you still keep control of the arm between your legs, but I have gotten smashed in this position by some heavy guys, leading me to be careful who I play cross guard against. Thanks!

Awesome thread...I used to do the 1st sweep sometime ago, it was my bread and butta. You guys meet on Sunday for refinement and simple rolling?


I'll ask Trog tonight but I'm pretty sure he just trying to somersault forward into an omoplata or just to spin back to guard. He has told me something about he feels comfortable as long as he keeps the grip on the sleeve and the pants. I'll ask him about it and get back to you.

Very cool, thanks!

damn, thanks dude.


i use that grip a lot...i didn't know it was referred to as the cross guard...but then again...i'm a few years behind on everything :)

i'm gonna try that sweep the next time i hit the mats

thanks again

very, very, very cool

I used this last night after reading about it here, and it worked great--good sweeps and good omoplata entries. Thanks!

ttt for Aesop's reply...

I hate the cross guard.