A reader writes:
Q: Do you have any advice for handling opponents who are tall, long-legged and very flexible?
A: Yes! I have had several training partners who were built like daddy long leg spiders and had very good open guards, so I did have to develop a strategy to deal with them.
Typically in the open guard his feet (or ‘hooks’) will be controlling you by pushing on your hips and/or biceps and/or shoulders and/or hooking behind your knees. To pass you need to remove or nullify these hooks – this is often the biggest part of the guard passing battle, but it is a critical step and you can’t really continue without it.
Once I’ve dealt with his hooks I often try to drive his feet up and over his head – I try to plant his knees beside his ears and his feet, folding him in half.
In this folded position most opponents will either: 1) stay there and attempt to reguard, or 2) do a backwards somersault to the turtle position.
If he stays in the folded over position (option 1) I try to control his hips with my body weight by dropping my chest onto his buttocks. This buys me a bit of time to think about my next move, and keeps his long, flexible legs far away from me. There are multiple guard passes and even a few submissions from this position.
If he flips over into the turtle (option 2) I don’t mind: at the very least I’ve managed to change the game from one of passing his guard to one of attacking his turtle. I either try to stabilize him in head-to-head turtle position or spin to his side and attack him from there.
On all fours his long, flexible legs are now tucked under him supporting his body, and not entangling me like some amorous octopus. Hopefully your turtle attacks can take it from here…