A good “guard” is everything in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. While in a normal fight letting someone get “inside” and on top of you could spell disaster for you, a trained MMA or BJJ fighter can be devastating from his back.
In this article, we will discuss the Open Guard and how to best use its variations, while in the next two, we’ll look into the other two guards.
Getting Into the Open Guard
First, let’s get into the Open Guard. Figuratively of course, as you don’t really want to get inside it if you can help it.
The Open Guard is the “daddy of all guards”, not just when it comes to age, but also its versatility and applications. Basically, every time the two fighters are grappling on the ground and one of them has his back on or toward the ground, you’re seeing the Open Guard in action.
The BJJ athlete who ends up in any guard position does so with one thought in mind – control your opponent. However, whereas in the Closed Guard the ankles are closed, usually behind the opponent’s back, securing him thus, in the Open Guard the legs are open and the one fighting from Open Guard needs to use his arms and hands a bit more.
This gives the opponent the chance to keep some distance from you, as you are not keeping control over him with your legs as much, which he can use for striking attacks, but it’s not as you are defenseless from this position. Far from it.
Types of Open Guard
Now that we are a bit more acquainted with Open Guard, it’s time to see some variations of the Open Guard that you’ll most likely see (or encounter) in a fight.
- Standard Open Guard
The Standard Open Guard is what you’ll most often see when watching an MMA fight. In fact, you can almost bet that a fight can’t go without one.
The best way to describe a Standard Open Guard is to say that this is a position in which one or both of your feet are on the opponent’s hips and your legs are not locked around his waist (that would be the Closed Guard then). From here, you can use your legs on the opponent’s hips to control the space between you two.
- Butterfly aka Siting Guard
The Butterfly Guard, or the Sitting Guard, is another widely used variation of the Open Guard. It’s generally not used for submissions, as it doesn’t allow you to wait too long while in it.
Instead, you need to work in Butterfly Guard and, using sweeps and grips, get or keep your opponent off balance.
- Spider Guard
Since the Spider Guard requires gripping your opponent’s gi, it’s not as common in MMA fights these days, as most fighters fight no-gi. However, in regular Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions, this type of Open Guard is widely used.