Breaking the guard is one of the most fundamental things you will ever learn in Jiu Jitsu and you will be doing it the whole of your BJJ Journey, yet it seems to be the one thing most people will struggle with when they first begin.
The thing is, no one likes passing. Breaking the guard sucks and it always will, but persistence and logical thinking will definitely get you better at it.
‘Breaking guard on the knees doesn’t work’
Bull. I bet you both Ricky and Lagarto could pass anyone in the gym’s guard on their knees. This could be considered a poor example considering the difference in level of these two compared to you, but if Roger Gracie believes it’s an important technique, then I sure as hell want to know it. Realistically however this pass isn’t going to work as well as some of the more advanced ones, but this is the FUNDAMENTALS. You aren’t going to win the Abu Dhabi without them.
Now, think of it this way, if you are in the guard of some lanky ‘Jon Jones character’ then 9/10 times you are not going to break their guard on your knees. The reason for this being is that the distance you have to travel (on your knees might I add) to break through their feet is far greater than that of a shorter person. Try standing up. Worst-case scenario, you get swept – who cares, if you just sat there it would happen eventually. Alternatively if you stand up and the guard opens you’ve progressed.
Now imagine you’re breaking someone with short legs that is top heavy. You may not be strong enough to lift them, but gravity is on your side when you try to pass on the knees, they probably aren’t going to move with you so all of your force is going into breaking their guard as opposed to holding them back.
Assessing your opponent can always be an influencing factor on how you roll with them. If they are a lot bigger than you, you definitely don’t want them on top of you!
I’m writing this the day after I received my second white belt tab, and let me tell you, my guard breaking has improved considerably since I started, yet it’s still a struggle.
I love playing on the bottom, the set ups are so much more enjoyable and there is a greater feeling of being in control, but that works for ME.
As Owen blogged, getting outside your comfort zone is one of the best things you can do. I’ve realised that I can play bottom better than I can on top, which is exactly why I’m working on passing the guard more than ever now. Everyday before fundamentals I get a partner and practice positional passing of the guard and you know what? It improves your passing considerably.
In the fundamental classes you are only POSITIONAL sparring. The issue with this is that there’s not as much flow in your ‘roll’ so the opponent is put in a position where they have to start from here and things become a little more, ‘predictable’. However the good news is, if you watch Jiu Jitsu tournaments, most people don’t actually play with a closed guard, for extended periods of time.
The purpose of positional sparring is to allow you to repeatedly try and break that guard, or gain that mount to give you constantly varying opponents of different sizes and strength. Each opponent you encounter will try a different method to sweep you, which in turn will give you survivability against a variety of opponents.
This practice and experience you gain from it, is going to rock when you eventually get to start rolling more competitively.
What secrets does the Advanced Program and Black Belt program have? Time will only tell. I bet you they have better techniques that they are keeping from us. But guess what? If you can break the guard without them - just imagine how good you will be with them.