When you first learn an sweep or a submission from the guard you usually learn the steps in a 1, 2, 3 manner.
“First grab the sleeve and lapel like this… Then open your legs and escape your hips… Now put your foot on the hip and pull him forward….”
And so on
Then you go ahead, learn all the steps, and get your repetitions in. You do all the prep work.
But then, when you try to use it against your sparring partner, it all goes to hell. He sees it coming a mile away, shuts down your attack, passes your guard, and smashes you from the top.
Why did your attack fail? Why didn’t it work as advertised?
The reason is probably that your opponent was still in a good body alignment.
Newbies are relatively easy to sweep and submit. Their positioning is terrible! They flail around, inadvertently giving you their arms for locking, their necks for choking, and their momentum for sweeping.
This means that you can easily catch beginners with direct attacks; no setups required. But these sort of direct attacks quickly stop working.
Most people quickly learn to keep themselves in a good position and how to apply a few counters. Once your opponent keeps himself in good alignment then it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to sweep or submit your opponent with an attack that isn’t first preceded by something else. You can’t just hit them with an armbar or triangle out of the blue and have a good chance of catching them by surprise.
So what do you do now?
To make an attack from guard high percentage you first need to disrupt his alignment.
Somehow you first need to take him out of position and then attack. If he’s off balance and/or twisted up and/or splayed out then he’ll be unable to resist effectively and submitting him will be so much easier!
Good alignment consists of a few different things. For good alignment his body has to be in a position to produce and absorb force effectively (aka ‘base’), his spine relatively straight and powerful (‘posture’), and his arms and legs positioned where they can be useful and not vulnerable to attack (‘structure’).
So the only purpose of your first attack might be to break his alignment. This could be as simple as off-balancing him to one side, bending his neck sideways, or prying one of his elbows away from his body.
Once he’s out of alignment then his ability to defend just got cut in half, which doubles the odds of you succeeding with your attack.
Elite competitors are doing the same thing when they fight for the guard. They fight, fight, fight to create an opening and then – BOOM – they capitalise on it with the attack.
This might sound pretty theoretical but it’s actually pretty simple…
Check out the video below that’s taken from my BJJ Guard and Bottom Game Formula app. In it we give a few different examples of destroying my alignment to set up his attack.
(My favourite technique combo in this video is the Hip Bump sweep to the Hanging Triangle Choke. When Rob did it to me I knew what was coming, but was unable to stop it. I was completely trapped.)
If you remember nothing else remember this: destroy alignment first, then attack!
The video with a more detailed explanation and examples is below…
A little bit more about this video…
It’s an excerpt from the latest Grapplearts app about the guard position (click here for more info about this app).
I know that the guard retention section in the app was a real gamechanger for me, and has really helped me maintain the guard and prevent the guard pass.
The app covers establishing your guard, preventing it from getting passed, launching effective submissions, drills to make all these moves instinctive, the strategies used by the top BJJ competitors and a lot more.
Most importantly it focuses on the concepts and principles underlying the guard position rather than simply throwing a handful of techniques at you and hoping that you remember some of them.
To buy the Guard and Bottom Game formula app (or just for more information including screencaptures, etc.) click on the button below that corresponds to the operating system of your smartphone or tablet!