This position is often the first position learned in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, yet is one of the last to truly be mastered. It is widely considered to be a safe position for the person on the bottom since it limits the movement of the opponent, as well as greatly reduces any strength advantage that the opponent might have. From this position, the person on bottom has access to a variety of sweeps and submissions, and they are relatively safe from being submitted in this position.
What do you do in Full Guard?
Attacks and Details for Full Guard (for person in blue)
- Move! Many people get to a Full Guard position only to become static and unmoving. They lie there resting and waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. In order to set up a sweep or submission, you have to be constantly attacking the opponent in different and unexpected ways. Just like tipping over a heavy object, you sometimes have to rock it back and forth several times before you have the momentum to knock it over. Don’t let Full Guard be a resting position.
- Change the angle. The easiest way for the defender to open and pass through your Full Guard is for your body and theirs to be oriented in a straight line. If you begin rotating your body position so that you are at an angle to the defender, you remove a lot of their leverage and strength. It is much more difficult to push hard against something that isn’t straight in front of you. Being at an angle also affects their balance and provides you greater leverage if you decide to push/pull with your legs. The most successful Full Guards are ones that are constantly moving and switching the attack angles.
- Get a grip. If you can grab the opponent somewhere, you can begin to control their movements. If they want to have control and not be controlled, then they have to focus on breaking your grip. If they are focusing on your grip, they are not focusing on the rest of their body. This gives you an opportunity to set up sweeps and submissions. The most commonly used grips are 1) reaching across their body and grabbing the lapel on the opposite side, 2) grabbing sleeves, and 3) grabbing a lapel on the same side of the body.
- Break down their posture. The defender will not be able to easily pass your guard if their shoulders are in front of their hips. If you can control the space between you two, you control the momentum of the match.
Defending and Escaping Full Guard (for person in white)
- Heads up! Posture is everything when it comes to defending the Full Guard. The attacker will want to break down your posture, control your arms, and keep you off balance through switching angles. The first step to breaking their guard is to set a good posture and balance. You should have your head up and shoulders back. Don’t sit straight up vertically or lean back or else you risk being pushed straight backward.
- Frame up! As part of your posture, you should lean slightly forward and create a frame with your arms so that they cannot easily push your pull you over. The easiest way to create the frame is to grab the top hem of their gi pants with both hands somewhere between their hips and curl your hands so that your fist is pushing into their abdomen (Do not punch them!). Now, set your elbows into the middle-line of their thighs and hold them there. Your forearm now connects their thigh to their belly in a straight, unbendable joint. If the person tries to pull you down, the force is transferred from their legs through your arm directly into their abdomen. You have taken your muscle out of the equation, and they are now pushing against themselves, leaving you to work on setting up an escape.
- Both hands in or both out. Never use just one hand to try to break their guard. If you are pushing on their leg with one hand, you will most likely be submitted via Triangle Choke very quickly. To protect against the triangle, always keep both hands together. If you want to push your arms through their legs to outside their guard, do this with both hands at the same time.