Closed Guard Bottom Fundamentals

I am in love with closed guard! This is a big transformation for me. For many years I have been telling students to not play too much closed guard. My fear was that it would lead to a poor open guard. Open guard is so complex that I wanted students to practice it a lot right from white belt. In many ways open guard is the most important position in jiu jitsu. If yours is good you can’t be beat. If yours is poor everyone will beat you. I would tell people “you can be a world champion and never play closed guard. You can’t even be a good blue belt without a decent open guard.” This was my thinking for many years. After attending the Rickson Gracie seminar and after hearing my friend Paul Sharp plead with us to bring back self defense to Jiu Jitsu I began to have second thoughts. What if it wasn’t true that closed guard will mess up your open guard game? What if there is a way to teach closed guard that it actually makes your open guard game better?

This set me on a path. My goal is to spend the next year working and examining the position.  I’m really excited about the possibilities. In comp team I am going to closed guard every chance I get. I am testing it against all levels and sizes of player. My original fear was that if I did that nobody would want to roll with me because sitting inside someone’s closed guard who doesn’t want to break it sucks. What I’m finding is that it can really be hell for the top guy and very good Jiu Jitsu practice. It’s good for them to struggle and have success from inside an active attacking closed guard.

As I thought about closed guard I decided that a great goal I had for my students was that they could hold someone down in their closed guard as long as they wanted. That with minimal energy they could own the position and keep the top player broken down. If you can do that the top player can never start Jiu Jitsu. In self defense you are completely protected from there. In a roll if the top player knows they will be screwed if their posture gets broken from inside your guard it puts them in a frantic place when your guard is closed. When that happens you got them.

The videos below are some of my initial findings and ideas from this position.

Postures in Closed Guard Bottom

Right now I think there are only two postures in closed guard bottom. You’ll see them in the video. The important part is that you have active leg and hip pressure constantly. A big mistake guard bottom players make is to relax their hips and legs. This takes all the weight and pressure off the top guy and makes them comfortable.

Holding the Position Comfortably

In this video I’ll show a couple of nice ways to hold the top person down comfortably. If you attach to the head/neck you’ll have an easier time than if you attach to the shoulders. My goal is to find a way to hold the top person down with minimal effort.

Attacking as They Back Out

In the next video I’ll show you a nice attack for when they back out. Since they can’t posture up most people will put their hands in your armpits and attempt to back out. You can use this to attack an arm.

Attacking Base and Posture

This is a great attack when the top guy manages to get upright and establish base and posture.

Base and Posture Attack 2

A second variation based on a slightly different elbow position from the top guy.

Attacking the Rear Arm

I find that when the top guy has a good base and posture that attacking the front arm can sometimes be difficult. That’s why I developed this attack for the back arm. For some reason it seems easier to get an attack on the rear arm than the front arm. I’ll show you a great grip for attacking the rear arm that opens up opportunities for attack.

That’s it for now. I’ve got a few more things I’m working on that I’ll share once I try them more to clean them up. If you aren’t already I’d encourage you to begin looking again at closed guard. You might really like what you find there.


  1. Thanks Cane, great stuff as usual. Have you guys experimented with the K-Control position from bottom that Neil Melanson of Blackzillians uses to deal with posture? Curious about your thoughts if so.

    • Thanks for the comment. I had not heard of it. Looked at a bit on Youtube. Seems interesting. I would not show that stuff to beginners though but would like to play with it a bit to see what it yields.

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