Every guard position relies on action-reaction. You fake a sweep in one direction, your opponent reacts, and then you take advantage of that reaction and take them the other way.
This is true of every type of guard, but it’s very easy to illustrate this with the X guard.
In the video below I break down the 4 directional options for X guard sweeps…
The sweeps are covered in a bit more detail in the video above, but if you want a quick reference as to the 4 directions and some of the basic sweeps in those directions here you go…
Table of Contents
DIRECTION 1: SWEEP THE GUY AWAY FROM YOU
When I’m in the X guard I usually start by trying to sweep the other guy away from me and use a standup sweep with his leg on my shoulder.
Another sweep in the same direction happens if he drives back towards me and I manage grab his far ankle with my free hand, extend my hips again, and buckle his leg.
In both sweeps I use a standup motion to get to the top, continuing to control one of his legs on my shoulder and keep it off the ground.
DIRECTION 2: SWEEP THE GUY TOWARDS YOU AND OVER YOU
If you try to set up direction 1 and the the guy responds by really shifting his weight towards you then you have the X guard tomoe nage sweep.
This is easily one of the coolest X guard sweeps around…
And if you have the right energy for it then it’s not that tough to do.
Simply put your head to one side, elevate his far leg with both of your own insteps, and roll him over top of you.
This move is essentially the ground version of the Tomoe Nage throw from Judo (which you can see about halfway down this Judo Throws for BJJ article).
DIRECTION 3: SWEEP THE GUY TO YOUR LEFT
Sometimes your opponent is really stable in the line of his feet, but you notice that his weight is shifted a little backwards, onto his heels…
In this case he’s setting himself up for the ‘banana peel’ sweep. I call it this because when you apply it he feels like his foot just slips out from under him, dumping him on his butt.
Drop the foot that was behind his knee down to behind his ankle and pull that to your right. At the same time pull his hip and his knee to your left with your top leg and underhooking arm respectively. Boom, over he goes!
DIRECTION 4: SWEEP HIM TO YOUR RIGHT
Many canny opponents caught in the X guard will assume the Superman position, using active posting with both hands on the mat to avoid being easily swept. In this case your best choice might be to sweep him to your right.
I showed two methods to do this in the video above, using 1) control of his far hand to prevent his posting, and/or 2) modifying the direction of your standup sweep.
Just remember that if he reacts strongly to either one of these sweep attacks then chances are he’s setting himself up for a sweep in one of the other directions we’ve discussed, or even an armlock or leglock submission (which is a topic for another day).
4 DIRECTIONS, TONS OF SWEEPS
Are these the only sweeps that work from the X guard? Not at all.
The X guard is a very sophisticated position with tons of different sweeps, attacks, variations and transitions, so what we’ve covered is just the tip of the iceberg.
But the basic idea – that you can sweep your opponent in either the north, south, east or west direction – is fundamental to all guard positions.
And if you have a few attacks in each direction then you’ll have an answer for most things the other guy tries to do and the ability to set up some really killer combinations.
Your homework, if you choose to accept it, is twofold…
First go and drill the 6 sweeps in the 4 directions that I showed in the video at the top of this article.
And then, even more importantly, go back to your favourite guard positions and make sure that you have options in each of the 4 major directions.
Remember always: fake east, then go west!
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