Your closed guard is only as effective as your ability to use it for sweeps, transitions and submissions is… However, it’s only as useful as your ability to preserve it when your opponents are trying to open it.
One of the steps in opening the closed guard, often times, is to stand up while you are in it. Founder of Straight Blast Gym International, Matt Thornton, has some great details on how you can prevent your opponents from doing that.
DON’T RELAX – ENGAGE YOUR LEGS
First things first: if your lower body, your legs that is, are relaxed – then it is very easy for your opponent to bring his leg up, in order to start standing up.
So, the first thing that you need to do once you have locked your closed guard is to pinch your knees together. Then, lower your heels towards the mat so that your hips are up and engaged, and pull your shoulders back. All together, this will add up to a great initial posture.
FEEL YOUR OPPONENT MOVE AND USE IT AGAINST HIM!
Having implemented these adjustments, you can start feeling when your opponent goes to stand up. You start feeling his weight shifting to one side, which he does in order to make his other leg lighter and more easy to stand on.
From this point on, Matt shows a great detail to making it very difficult for your opponents to stand up.
And what does he do, exactly? As he feels his training partner’s weight shift towards one leg (to make it easier for himself to stand up on another one), Matt wants to place as much weight as possible on his partner’s opposite leg.
He does this by making his left knee heavy, twisting it into the partner’s left (stand-up) leg and having his own right leg relaxed a bit; all the while keeping his hips engaged and off the mat. All together, this ends up with him loading his own weight towards the partner’s stand up leg.
This is important not only because it makes it hard for your opponents to stand up, Matt explains; but also because your opponents will waste much more energy trying to do so, making it easier for you to sweep and submit them.
OKAY, BUT HOW DO I PRACTICE THIS?
Matt reminds his students that learning to load your weight in a proper direction and in a proper way is based on practice. You need to utilize all of the previous pointers at all times (like keeping your hips off the mat) as well, and you need to start loading your weight as soon as you feel your opponent begin to move.
To get used to the movement and to practice effectively, Matt advises the following:
1. Keep your hands off your training partner when you have them in closed guard. Just use your legs and hips.
2. Close your eyes and get your partner to start shifting their weight in order to bring their leg up, but at around 20% speed.
3. As they do this, Matt says that you need to point to the leg you feel coming off the mat – thus exercising your „feel“ for it and getting feedback from your partner on whether or not you did it correctly.
4. Practice this until you get it right every time, and then get your partner to do it at a faster and more sneaky rate.
Then, practice loading your weight properly. Soon, you’ll notice that your closed guard is improving significantly.
Watch the video below to see Matt Thornton explaining these pointers to his students: