BJJ Video: Beginner’s Guide to the Open Guard

Even for experienced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu students the open guard can be daunting position because it is one of the most complex and quickly…

By: T.P. Grant | 9 years ago
BJJ Video: Beginner’s Guide to the Open Guard
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Even for experienced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu students the open guard can be daunting position because it is one of the most complex and quickly evolving positions. Seemingly every variation has its own name: the Butterfly guard, the De la Riva guard, the Spider guard, all seemingly very different.

Translating the open guard jargon has become a recent mission of Adem Redzovic. A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, Adem teaches at Team Redzovic in Chicago, IL and is my original BJJ instructor. Adem, and his brother and teacher, Eddie Redzovic were the first Americans to start a Gracie Barra school, and they have since become an independent based out of Chicago.

In the video above Adem breaks open guard success down to six principles:

1. Be the One to Open the Guard

Whoever opens the guard is winning the battle by taking the initiative. If the guard player opens the guard, he or she will be able to establish the open guard of their choice, if the guard passer opens the guard then the guard pass is already under way.

2. Maintain Four Points of Contact

Remember the guard is about controlling the movement of the guard passer, and any open guard variation that you may want to play it will require four points of contact with the top player. Each limb of the guard player should be doing something in the open guard, otherwise the top player is likely going to pass.

3. The Feet are your First Line of Defense

One of the big benefits of the guard is that it helps prevent top pressure, allowing the bottom fighter to move their hips, make angles, and breathe. The first defense against that pressure in open guard is your feet, either with De la Riva hooks, Spider guard, or lasso grips.

4. The Knees are the Second Line of Defense

After an opponent has passed the feet, the knees become the guard player’s next defense against pressure and method of creating space to move.

5. Third Line of Defense is Defensive Positioning

If an opponent is passing by the knees, don’t fight a losing battle and up flattened on your back. Take the initiative again and transition to a strong defensive position, such as a fully established half guard.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Reset

Sweeping or submitting from the guard against a similarly skilled opponent is work, don’t expect it to be easy or quick. So don’t be adverse to going back to square one and starting over, be it the original open guard, a different open guard, or the closed guard. That can actually be rather demoralizing for some guard passers.

Hope you find this video helpful, and remember these same concepts can be applied when passing the open guard also. Adem is also working on a video specifically for an Advanced Class piece, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

For more MMA and Grappling analysis, history, technique, and discussion be sure to follow T.P. Grant on Twitter or Facebook. And if you have a video you would like to share post a link in the comments or email me at

For more Bloody Elbow coverage of all things grappling, be sure to bookmark the Bloody Elbow Grappling Hub and check out the Bloody Elbow Grappling link in the Library tab at the top of the page.

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