You want to compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Lesson 2: Pull Guard!
Pulling Guard: An alternative to takedowns
It happened to me
Well, I had trained my throws, wrestling takedowns, and had a decent sprawl. I drilled them in practice and sparred live from standing even when I was gassing out. I was ready for my next competition... I thought. It was a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or gi match and I started out well by getting an advantageous grip on my opponents gi. I was shaking him up (disturbing his balance in preparation for a throw) and he went on the defensive. The next thing I knew, he wrapped his legs around my waist and I was in his guard on the ground. How did that happen? Although he did not score points, he was able to get the match to the ground in a relatively low risk way.
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Get the fight to the ground in a low risk way
Pulling or jumpting guard allows the practitioner to take the fight to the ground without executing a typical judo or wrestling style takedown. It is a relatively low risk way to bring the fight to the ground but will not work 100% of the time. It is still very important to learn and drill your basic wrestling moves and judo takedowns.
Mechanics of pulling guard
Grip your opponents gi with one hand on their collar and one hand on their sleeve near the elbow. You will essentially jump into guard position while they are standing. The key to jumping guard is to bring your hips to their body and do not try to pull their body down to your hips. Lead with the leg on the side that you control your opponents sleeve. If you lead with the other leg your opponent can effectively block that leg with his free hand. Once your hips touch his midsection, lock your legs, and drop your weight towards the mat. This momentum should pull them down with you.
Are there risks to pulling guard?
If you become known as a "guard puller" people will be ready to defend it and may stop or counter your attempt. That said there are many practicioners at the elite level that use the guard pull as their primary takedown method.
Keep the guard open
What if it happens to me?
Your opponent is trying to get you to lose your balance as he pulls you forward to the ground into his guard, so base out! Bend your knees and lean back to counter his weight pulling. Once you prevent him from pulling you down, he must hold himself on you and it's easier to hold him up than for him to hold onto you. You now have two options.
Break open their guard by keeping your balance and pressing down on one of their knees with slow steady pressure, you will win this fight! As soon as their guard breaks open, drop down with them and don't let them close their guard. Now it will be easier to pass their guard if it's already open.
Wait for the single leg takedown by trapping one of their legs with one arm. Grip your own gi pants just below their leg (imagine you're holding a log under one arm). Eventually, they will have to open their guard and you'll already have their leg in perfect position for a single leg takedown.
Watch for Lesson 3: Practice makes permanent
Grapple Hard but Grapple Smart!