I’ll be taking you guys through all the basic brazilian jiu jitsu positions, but we’ll start with closed guard. Defining what it is, what it looks like, and following that with your strategies from the top and bottom.

Defining the Closed Guard

In the closed guard you have your legs wrapped around your opponent on the ground with your feet hooked together behind him.

Closed Guard

Which fighter has the advantage?

Well, this is about as close to a neutral position as you can get in brazilian jiu jitsu.

But since this is mixed martial arts and not sport jiu jitsu the guy on top is allowed to rain down punches—more commonly known as ground and pound. Not a real good spot to be in even if you have an active guard.

If that’s not a good enough reason to stay off the bottom then maybe this is—typically the judges perceive whomever’s on top as winning.

Your Strategy on Bottom

If you’re on the bottom and your opponent is in your guard then you have a few different options.

Which one you choose will depend on your attributes as a fighter.

1. Stand Up: Which is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re not experienced off you back then why be there?

Standing Up From Guard 1

Standing Up From Guard 2

Standing Up From Guard 3

2. Sweep: A sweep is anytime you’re able to reverse your position with your opponent’s. Placing you in the more advantageous top spot. Sweeps will also put you in position to stand back up if you choose to do so.

Sweep 1

Sweep 2

Sweep 3

3. Submit: More adept grapplers will try to submit or ”tap out” their opponents from their backs. Which means they use a submission to force their opponent to give up by twisting, choking, or hyperextending certain body parts.

Triangle Choke

4. Strikes: Striking from the bottom is an option, just not a very good one. But if you can control you opponent’s posture pretty well then I’m all for some elbows. Think Travis Lutter tapping to Anderson Silva’s elbows from inside his triangle choke.

Elbow Strikes

Your Strategy on Top

If you’re on top and you’re in your opponent’s guard here’s your options:

1. Ground and Pound: In other words striking with punches, and elbows. A bunch of successful fighters are completely content with taking down their opponent and then just lettin’ it rain from inside their guard. And it IS effective.

Ground and Pound

2. Passing Guard: Those who aren’t satisfied with just striking from the guard will attempt to improve their position by passing over, around, or through their opponent’s legs. Putting them in a better spot to strike or submit their opponent. A spot where your opponent has less leverage and control and you have more.

Guard Pass 1

Guard Pass 2

Guard Pass 3

Guard Pass 4

Guard Pass 5

Guard Pass 6

3. Strike to Pass: What’s really effective and what most really good mixed martial artists do is combine the two. Landing a blow or two will usually break open the guard for you making it easier to pass into a better position.

Strike to Pass

4. Leglocks: A leglock is just a submission attempt aimed at your lower extremities. You can add them to you passing game and ground and pound to vary your attack from the top. Breaking guard and dropping back into a leglock is a good way to end the fight right there.

Heel Hook

A Note About Posture

If you’re on bottom every option you have is predicated upon breaking down your opponent’s posture first (except perhaps standing up).

Broken Posture

And if you’re on top every option requires you to posture up.

Postured Up

You could argue that whomever controls posture…controls the fight.

Other Cool Closed Guards

I can’t really get into them because I don’t know the intricacies of them myself, but eventually you should play around with other closed guard systems like the Rubber Guard, Leghook guard, and High Guard once you’ve spent ample time working the basics.

It’s always good to have plenty of tools in the toolbox.