BJJ / Grappling tips: impassable guard? Start from the bottom of the side control

Master Rickson Gracie demonstrating 
his open guard on me

The open guard is a core position in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Competitors and fighters within and outside the Gracie family have used it for generations to stay safe on the bottom, escape back to their feet or even reverse or submit their opponent but what good is a guard as a defensive / offensive tool if it's constantly getting passed?

Do you want to make your open guard impassable? Start every sparring round from the bottom of the side control. Don't even worry about escaping to begin with. Just focus on preventing the mount / knee on belly / North / South and defending their submission attacks. 

Why will this improve your guard retention?

1. You will learn what grips your opponent needs from the top of the side control to attack and you learn to spot them reaching for these before / while / after passing the open guard

2. Every time you move to escape from the side control, your opponent will have to counter to keep you under their side mount by manipulating either your spine (head / neck), torso or legs. If you learn to spot what they need to prevent you from escaping you can reverse engineer (or simply ask an instructor) how to prevent that. 

3. Emotionally, you will improve. The reason people get their guard passed most of the time is because they're scared of or at least bothered by the thought of being under a heavy and offensive side control. They start pushing when they should be hip-escaping / shrimping. Some hate under being the side control so much that they'd rather turn and risk giving their back. If you spend so much time  being Jiujitsu-curious under the side control, learning and developing survival and escape tactics then your guard retention will be much more relaxed and technical. 

"Slow is smooth, smooth is fast"

If nothing else, these sessions will give you very specific questions to raise with your instructor during class or private 1-2-1 training, making the best use of your time on the mat. 



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