An Introduction to the Guard in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu



  • The guy in the white has guard
  • The guy in the blue is inside the white guy’s guard

Image Source – GrappleArts


You are in your opponent’s guard when your opponent has their legs around you.

You are in guard, when you opponent is in between your legs.

You are in closed guard when your feet are crossed

You are in open guard when your feet are apart

You are in butterfly guard when your feet are in between your opponent’s legs, rather than behind his/her back.

There are many variations of the guard, this page will just cover the absolute basics.
If his/her feet are crossed, then this is closed guard

Open legs – open guard.



Tips for Guard Top – When you are in guard, on top (like the blue guy above)

Keep low or high.

Keep low – means keep your head on your opponent’s chest, keep your elbows tucked in by your sides and your back flat.

Keep high – like the guy in the blue gi above, keep your back upright and straight – so that you are difficult to move around

Either have your head flat on his chest, or your head right up, and your back straight.

Watch your arms – if he gets wrist control, he may try and push your arm back and go for a triangle choke.

Try and control your opponents wrists at all times, or push your hands against his/her armpits.


Opening & Passing Guard

One of the fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, is passing and maintaining guard.

Here is BJ Penn showing a basic (but effective) guard pass





There are many guard passes for open and closed guards.

A key point is to keep your hips lined up if you are on bottom. If the top guy shifts his hips to the side, you must do the same, unless you’re looking for a specific submission.

Stacking your opponent is a good hack for beginners.  Have you legs wide so you can’t get ankle-picked and swept onto your back. It’s not ‘very nice’ but I like to drive my head into the guy’s jaw to confuse him even more, before looking to pass.






To prevent your guard being passed, you must fight for grips – look for ‘2 points of control’ like a head a wrist, and an overhook and wrist control etc.  You must practice fighting for grips.


Common Submissions from Guard Bottom

Beginners can practice these submissions, but don’t expect to pull them off straight away.
Practice scrambling back to guard or top position if your submission fails.
Triangle Choke



The best escape I have found from triangle is ‘answering the phone’ with your trapped hand – by placing your trapped hand on your ear.
Then attempt to place your head on the mat, on the opposite side to your trapped arm.
Drive upwards and forwards and sprawl your legs back.
Arm Bar from Guard




The best defence for an armbar from guard is to drive into your opponent so that he can’t extend his hips.


Sweeps from Guard Bottom

Chest to Chest Sweep

My favourite technique from guard


Scissor Sweep