Upright Guard Vs Combat Base

This week the topic was seated upright guard. On monday I did some work with the butterfly guard. I have a post here outlining that matierial as I usually teach it already. On tuesday I decided to do something a bit different. I wanted to work the upright guard position vs combat base. Lots of SBG guys use the combat base. It’s a legacy from Chris Hauter who is Matt’s coach. There isn’t much material at all out there on how to counter the combat base so I wanted to work it in the lab a bit. I watched the few videos I could find and checked in with some guys at the gym to see how they deal with combat base. I also had in mind the material that Matt teaches with regard to that position. After piecing it all together I tried to come up with some basic fundamentals that most of that material had in common.

Combat Base Posture

I wasn’t interested in teaching a set or series of techniques. I was more interested in exploring the geography of the position. I wanted students to leave class having a better understanding of attacking combat base regardless of whether or not they learned any techniques. I wanted them to have a technical base to use to explore more on their own.

The typical combat base is illustrated in the photo to the right. One knee is up and one is down. The arm on the knee side can be inside or outside of the knee. The advantages of this position are many. Your knee makes triangles and arm bars hard for the bottom guy. He can’t close his guard because your knee is in the way. Your base is nice and wide which takes away most sweeps. You also have tremendous forward driving power from here.

If we are going to attack this posture we need to know it’s strengths and objectives and then we can build a counter posture that takes those away. That’s what we are going to do. So, put your bullshit meter on and strap in!

Counter Posture Step by Step

Step 1

Step 1 is to control his forward pressure. We can do this easy enough by getting a foot up on his hip right away. This combined with framing on his shoulders/neck with your forearm will prevent him from being able to drive forward through your guard.

An alternative foot position is to use the other foot on his hip if he removes your right one.

Step 2

Now we need to take care of that forward knee. He can’t drive into us too effectively with our foot on his hip but he can shove his knee across our leg on either side pinning out hips. We need to negate that advantage. In order to do that we’ll circle a bit towards his up knee. We are trying to move to his side a bit.

Circle toward his back on his up knee side.

Step 3

Isolate the knee. We need to lock in his up knee so that he can’t drive effectively with it. We do this by closing off the space. You can underhook the knee and hug it to your shoulder, or you can reach around and grab his belt.

You can isolate his knee by reaching around and grabbing his belt while you squeeze your knees together.

Step 4

Once we establish this posture the top guy will panic a bit and usually try to back out.

In order to prevent the back out we need to lock him in. We’ll do that by grabbing with our left hand. There are several different grip possibilities that will accomplish holding him in so that he can’t back out easily. Here are a few.

Step 5

Step 5 is unbalancing him and going for a sweep. You can go forwards, backwards, or back out and smash. If you establish your posture correctly it’s easy at this point to take him over.

Putting it all together video


  1. Pingback: 20 Week Curriculum- Master Link List | The Gentle Art

    • We do most of our rolls from knees. Some from standing. My experience is that starting from standing is dangerous. Lots of injuries happen that way. We practice it for sure but starting every roll from standing is a sure fire way to get a lot of students hurt. Especially since in class you are often rolling out of your weight class.

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  3. Pingback: Upright Guard vs Combat Base by Cane Prevost | Open Mat Jiu Jitsu

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