You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Curious friend: “What is guard, what does that mean?”
Me: “It means I can kick your ass while I’m sitting on mine.”

During the beginner no-gi class at Lincoln BJJ yesterday afternoon, instead of practicing specific techniques, Conan had us working on some guard concepts. I’m familiar with the things he shared, but I don’t necessarily think about all of them when I’m rolling. Some are basically second nature to me by now (such as controlling posture, although it’s more difficult for me in no-gi), and opening your guard by choice (as opposed to trying to hold your guard closed until it’s forced open). As far as that goes, it’s hard for me to even close my guard around many people, let alone keep it closed, so early on in my training I started developing my open guard. Now it’s what I prefer, and I’m almost always the person who decides when I open it.

Another concept we practiced, that I think I’m okay with, is always trying to keep your opponent in front of you in open guard. When I’m coaching the kids, I find myself saying things like, “Turn and face them”, but I’ve realized that’s not entirely accurate, because it’s possible to face someone by turning just the upper part of your body, and what you really want is to keep your legs between you and them.

So that's inverted guard? Back in my day we only had closed guard.One of the things Conan talked about yesterday that I believe I don’t do as well is not being on my back in guard. He pointed out that you’re a lot more mobile when you’re seated instead of laying down, which I totally understand, but I think part of my problem is that sometimes people who are bigger than I am force me to my back, so I just started getting comfortable working from there, but I know it’s not optimal. When Conan said that you shouldn’t be on your back when playing guard, in my smart-ass way I had to say “Unless you’re inverted!”

A concept Jerad brought up (which I essentially knew but had never specifically thought about) is when you’re working open guard, you should always have three points of contact. There are many varied options, but what it breaks down to is that three of your limbs should be in contact with your opponent, and controlling them at all times (which is also harder in no-gi!). One of Conan’s critiques for me after he watched me do positional sparring yesterday was that I was reaching out too much to try to establish the points of contact, instead of just letting my partner come to me. “Jiu-Jitsu is a mousetrap. The trap does not chase the mouse. But when the mouse grabs the cheese, the trap plays its role.” -Helio Gracie

It’s always fun to work on techniques, but I also enjoy working on concepts, and I think it’s just as important. We don’t usually focus on them very often during class, but I always get something out of it when we do. The only concept I couldn’t understand yesterday was when Conan told me I could do whatever I wanted, so I replied “That’s not true, because I want to submit you, but I can’t!” ;)

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you just might find, you get what you need.” -Rolling Stones


5 comments on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want

  1. One of the reasons I like to be seated while in open guard is that I often enjoy getting back to my feet. Opponents are almost always dismayed by this due to the generalized standup weakness in most BJJ players. I love to do a technical lift and watch that “Oh, shit” flash across their faces as they scramble to get their own feet under them.

  2. People tend to not do this. It’s not the standard script (which is “rolling”, not “standing”). So they don’t expect you to do it- until they’ve been partnering you for long enough to know your game- so they usually have a what-do-I-do-now moment. I love to do things that surprise my opponent. I brace a foot on their body somewhere and tuck the other foot under me, and then I’m looming over them before they can react. Often I can slide straight from looming into choking them, top side control, or taking their back.

    • I don’t know if Greg would let us do that because of space issues. When we start from standup it’s usually when there are only a few people in class, or he just has a couple pairs go at once.

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