When I first started grappling I was always getting smashed on the bottom, so I started figuring out how to pull guard from almost anywhere. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, and I’ve now developed a decent guard game. The problem is I stopped there. I recently told Conan that I was comfortable with my guard, but not with my success rate in applying submissions from it, and I wanted to know what I could do to improve that. He told me “Sweep them.”
At the Best of the Best Tournament when I had my opponent in guard my coach Amy kept telling me to sweep her, but every time I opened my guard her coach would yell “It’s open, get out!”, which messed with my mind and caused me to close my guard again (even though I know I have a damn good open guard game). The problem was that I was afraid to take a chance.
When I finally did manage to pull off a pretty great sweep on her, I was never able to gain any kind of top control before she pulled me into guard with those freakishly long things she calls legs. The reason I wasn’t able to effectively gain top position is because I don’t practice it enough. I’ve been happily laying on my back for far too long, and I haven’t pushed myself to take my game to the next level.
I’m now realizing that guard should be thought of as a transitory position. Controlling someone is a lot more effective when you have your body weight on top, not underneath them. This is also one of the reasons it’s a lot easier to submit someone from the top. Guard is merely the first step.
I’m not going to get any better at being on top if I’m satisfied with laying on my back. I need to take the chance of losing what little control I have in order to gain real control. What’s the worst that could happen, they’ll get top control on me? I’m used to that, and within a short amount of time I will probably just have them in guard again anyway. I really have nothing to lose…and full mount to gain.