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Top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Drills for Guard Retention

Top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Drills for Guard Retention

If you are an advanced-level BJJ practitioner, you must know about guard retention. Guard retention is one of the BJJ basics that play a critical role in your success or defeat during the fights. If you are unable to retain your guards, your opponents can take advantage of this disability to get an advantage over you and win the match.

Therefore, improvement in guard retention skills is quite important. Considering this need of BJJ practitioners like you, in this post, we are discussing what is guard retention, key concepts of it, and top drills that can help you improve your guard retention skills.

1. What Is Guard Retention and Why It Is Important?

Guard retention is one of the basic techniques that grapplers execute in BJJ to keep opponents in their control and to make successful submissions. Solidifying your guard retention capabilities always helps in attaining more opportunities for successful defense and offense.

Guard recovery is one of the BJJ skills that help you in preventing your opponents from guard passing. Having this skill can benefit you to drag them back to square one every time they try to pass which will exhaust them and provide you more opportunities to go for sweeps and successful submissions.

In case you lack guard retention skills, you will be an easy target for your opponents to entangle in guard passes and submit you. To not be an easy target, it will be vital to strengthen your guard retention skills and keep your opponents under your control throughout the fight.

2. Key Concepts of Guard Retention

Here are some important concepts regarding guard retention that can help you improve your defensive and offensive skills quite effectively.

2.1. Make Your Body Facing Opponent


For guard passing, your opponents need to establish a dominant position while getting around your legs. In most of the guard passes, they need to be at a proper angle. But you can disable your opponents by making your body face them. For that, you need to rotate your body at such an angle that it becomes facing opponents.

2.2. Control Opponent's Head


Though keeping your body facing opponents makes it tough for opponents to pass guards, if they are still able to do so, taking control of their head can help you recover your guard position. When you control their head, you are in fact limiting their movement and they will have to deal with your hands first before continuing on passing guard. In the meantime, you get the opportunity to regain your guard.

2.3. Keep Your Knees Close To Chest


Another technique that can help you recover your guard position is keeping your knees closer to your chest. By using this technique, you limit the space between your armpits and knees. Most of the time opponents aim to control that area to guard pass. Having this position, you can easily utilize your elbows and hips to mirror the opponent’s moves.

3. Top Drills For BJJ Guard Retention

Here are some of the top drills for guard retention that you can practice to improve your skills and make your guard defense impregnable.

3.1. Cross Over


The first and the most important drill that BJJ practitioners like Cobrinha suggest their students is cross over. This is the solo exercise for which you only need a wall. To perform this drill, you just need to step on the wall with one leg at a time while shifting to the other side.

During this drill, your hips must be engaged actively and should be off the floor. Do this for a minute with 30 seconds rest between the rounds.

3.2. Guard Retention Drill for Leg Drag


If you feel that most of the time you get entangled by your opponent’s when they use the leg drag guard passing technique, this drill can help you improve guard retention in such situations. This drill is very much similar to cross over but there is a little difference in technique to perform.

In this drill, you keep your hips much higher off the ground and swing your free leg wide open and in a circular motion. You must be resting on your shoulders while shifting to the sides. This drill should also be performed for one minute followed by 30 seconds of rest.

3.3. Inverted Guard Retention Drill


Inverted guard retention is another way to retain guards in a leg drag situation. This drill is much similar to the previous one however, in this drill you will need to invert yourself by pushing off your leg planted on the wall besides using your hands and feet to make yourself a full roll. After the completion of one roll, you need to switch your legs and do the same on the other side.

3.4. Backward Hip Escape


The next drill that you can do to strengthen your guard retention skills is backward hip escape. In this drill, you have to keep one leg on the wall while keeping the other free to swing and move with the hip to the other side underneath the leg on the wall.

You also have to make sure that the back is not flat. You will be repeating this drill with the other leg two. Both of the reps will be of 1 minute with an interval of 30 second’s rest.


Related Reading: A Beginners Guide: 3 Escapes in BJJ You Should Master

3.5. Forward Hip Escape Knee Shield


Another beneficial drill for improving your guard retention skills is forward hip escape knee shield guard retention. This is almost similar to the reverse hip escape drill. However, the difference between the both is that in this drill you have to elevate your hips and knees while switching the legs by using your planted foot on the wall.

3.6. Reverse Hip Escape


Do you want to improve your reverse hip escape? Here is how you can work on it. You start it by pushing off the wall to shift your hips from one side to another. In addition, you also have to extend your leg but not completely. Also, do not stay flat on your back while performing this drill for one minute.

3.7. Butt Scoots


Butt scooting is one of the efficient body movements that work wonders for both offense and defense aspects. Specifically, against opponents who are good at pressure passing, this can help you get away when they aim and try to pin your lower half. You can also use butt scooting for pulling opponents for arm dragging and back takes.

You start this drill by planting your back and feet on the floor while keeping your arm closer to your chest. You have to lean on one side arm on the mat for creating a frame. Your opposite foot should base while you push your hips and pull in the same direction by using your framed arm.

Once you complete the scoot, use the same based foot for pulling yourself back for getting into an open guard position.

3.8. Half Belly Down


Do you want to trick your opponent by making them think that you are going to the turtle position while aiming to pass your guard? You can do so with the help of half belly down movement.

This drill is efficient for shrimping, half belly down, and guard recovery. You start this drill by going on to your back to perform a shrimp to the side. But, instead of pushing your hips back further, you have to pull your bottom leg out to go into a belly-down position with pressure on the shoulder. As soon as you feel that you have maximized this movement and your all weight is on one side, pull yourself back into the guard position.

3.9. Belly Down to Turtle


If your opponent is passing your guard and you do not have space to retain it, your best strategy to avoid it would be belly down to turtle. Getting into a turtle position is the best strategy when your opponent is on mount or side mount positions.

You start this drill with your back and both feet planted on the floor. You should bridge and go pushing your hips away as if you are shrimping but instead of that, you have to push your leg across and under your body for getting both knees planted on the ground. When you get your hips facing mats, pull your knees and elbows to get into a turtle position.

While using this technique in an actual match, make use that your elbow in knees are tightly together so you should not be providing opportunities to your opponents for placing any hook or grips on you.


Related Reading: All Professional BJJ Athletes Follow These Drills

4. Takeaway

Utilizing these guard retention drills can help you improve your defense as well as attacking skills to get ahead of your opponents by not letting them control the fight, whether you compete in BJJ Gi or No-Gi. If you are good with guard retention, you will not be giving your opponents any opportunities to submit you while on the other hand, you may make them tired for your advantage to submit them.

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