Showing posts with tag: Guard development

Why gripping is so important

Gripping is one of the most important skills that you can develop to improve your guard play and your passing. 

When working with a new student. I will first ask them what position(s) they are working on followed immediately by what grips they are looking for, and how do they get to that position. 

And this serves a few purposes. Chief among which, is to see their understanding of a position because no technique can exist in a vacuum by itself. Every technique is connected to a position. Which is connected to the student through their gripping. 

For instance, if a student is having trouble with a technique from their spider guard. 

The first thing I will do is have them start not in the technique giving them issue, but in the spider guard and have them work their way back to the move that gives them trouble. 

Being able to show from start to finish how to set up a technique shows if a student really understands the move. 

If a student can walk me through all of the details confidently and concisely. I know they have a great understanding of the technique. 

If they struggle to set up their move that can be a sign of a larger issue. 

Not understanding how grips impact your guard. 

Your gripping — especially on the ground — determines what guard(s)  you can establish and also if you will be able to maintain your guard against an aggressive passer. 

If your gripping is off or you don’t know what grips you need. Your guard play won’t be efficient and you will always feel like you are behind your opponent. 

A good thought exercise is to think about your favorite guard positions. 

It could be closed guard, half guard, etc. 

Now, think about what grip(s) you need to establish that guard from no grips. 

This could be an easy one step process or a more detailed process. 

If this is easy, then you probably have thought a lot about this. 

If this is hard, then you need to understand something really important. Not understanding how your grips connect your guard might be what’s holding back your guard play. 

Focus on recomposing first

Lots of beginner students want to develop a berimbolo or a spider guard or a De la Riva guard right from the start. 

It’s a classic example of wanting the shiny object. Or wanting dessert before dinner. 

You see that a move is very effective or a position is very common and of course you want to practice those moves or those positions. 

But I believe for beginners especially,  you should focus on learning how to retain your guard first. 

Guard retention is such an under appreciated skill that will form the foundation of your guard play. 

If you have good guard retention you will have a great guard. 

So many higher belts neglect or have neglected this and it always comes back to bite them. 

If nothing else it will be easier to start off with guard retention first and build up from there versus learning how to play a particular guard and then having to train and un-learn bad habits. Just to focus on those same basics. 

Basics are something that a lot of people don’t want to focus on. It’s not cool, it’s not fancy, it’s very bare-bones, very utilitarian and sometimes boring. 

And I see this with higher level competitors as well. They might be advanced in many positions but have very low skill in the fundamentals.

It might not seem like a big a deal because you can be a top competitor without the fundamentals. However, this is only true for the top 1% of athletes doing Jiu Jitsu. 

For the rest of us, it’s probably better if we develop those basics early on because it will pay off in the long run.  It’s very similar to saving. If you learn how to save when you’re young — you know saving has a compounding effect — by the time you’re 60 if you’re saving since 15 you will have accrued a lot of wealth. Versus if you start saving at age 50. By the time you’re 60 it will not have grown as much. 

What I’m getting at is time is key.

The time that you spend learning how to recompose is going to pay off later on. Of course, you’re going to get you guard passed learning how to recompose properly. That’s just a part of the process until you become more confident and you develop a sense of where to position your self so you can fight to keep your guard.