Favorite Fundamentals – Top of Closed Guard

Last week, over at A Skirt on the Mat, Katie had a post about focusing on fundamentals. I’m a blue belt, so I still consider fundamentals my bread and butter and am sure that mine are not all that they could be or need to be.

That being said, I did manage to successfully pass the guards of two very skilled higher belts this week. I attribute my success to lots of practice passing the guard and to the fact that these much more skilled athletes were constantly trying new attacks from the bottom of guard, while I just played a very conservative game and waited until the right opportunity presented itself and I could knee slice through.

What are the fundamentals of being in someone’s closed guard as I see them? Good posture, definitely, head up. Weight not too far back on the heels, for fear of a bump sweep. I like to have one hand on my opponent’s sternum (or ideally, an S-grip on both lapels), then get a hand on the hip and start looking to open their guard.

If they start putting grips on me, then I stop whatever I was doing and remove them. I like to use a two-on-one hold to get rid of collar grips (or sometimes I’ll grab my own lapel and pull in one direction while I pull the meaty part of their hand the opposite one, but I don’t use this one often). For cuff grips, I’ll rotate my hand and wrist until they let go.

Once I’ve got their grips defeated, I go right back to setting up my pass. I try not to be in a hurry (I’ll talk more about self-coaching down the line), block their incoming attacks, and not progress until I am fairly sure that my move will work. No plan survives first contact with the enemy, but I’d rather have the odds stacked in my favor before I act.

What other fundamentals are good to remember from the top of closed guard?

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