The Guard is a very complex position. Most of the time you’re doing BJJ, you’ll spend in the Guard or fighting from the Guard.
Basically, in BJJ, the Guard means that you are on your back and you are giving your training partner or opponent your legs. Your legs are the longest, strongest part of your body and you want to use your legs to keep your opponent at bay, control them and potentially submit them or sweep them.
Video: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Made Simple: The Guard Defined
If you’re a total beginner in BJJ, here’s a quick glossary of the basic Guard variations you’ll come across.
Using the Closed Guard, you have your legs locked around your opponent’s torso and behind their back. There are a whole bunch of attacks from here. For example, you can do a triangle choke, bringing your legs up and choking your opponent with your legs behind their neck. This is the classic, white belt Guard and the position most people think of when they think of BJJ.
Another version of the Guard is where you only control one of your opponent’s legs. In this position, you have both of your legs locked around one of your opponent’s legs. This is called the Half Guard. If you’re lucky, you can transition to get their back, locking your leg around their waist from the back.
I like Butterfly Guard a lot. It’s called Butterfly Guard because your feet are together and your knees are spread apart wide, like the wings of a butterfly. But I like it because when using the Butterfly Guard, your opponent’s weight is not on top of you. From here, you can maybe sweep your opponent and then attack from a more dominant position once you’re on top.
Using the Spider Guard, you give your opponent your legs and use your feet to stretch out your opponent like they’re a scarecrow. From here, you can build some momentum and sweep your opponent over, and from there maybe attack them from mount.
Using this Guard Glossary, you can see how Guard is simply giving your opponent your legs when you’re on the bottom. The Guard is a very strong, offensive position with you are doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.