The Ultimate Guard Retention System

Hey Everybody,

This is my Ultimate Guard Retention System!

Having a strong Guard that is difficult to pass and that regularly and predictably delivers sweeps and submissions is the cornerstone of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Although this system will help anyone of any level, my Ultimate Guard Retention formula was written for the complete newbie in mind.

The Ultimate Guard Retention System is my way to help you get good at Jiu Jitsu in the shortest time possible.

First off..let’s start with some fundamentals..Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is fundamentally just stick fighting.  And human beings are just 5 sticks duct taped together 🙂

And sticks can be two things:

  1. Frames
  2. Levers

Frames stop motion.  Levers amplify motion.

So how to frames and levers relate to when we’re rolling and doing Jiu Jitsu?

When we’re rolling and doing doing Jiu Jitsu, I always want to be a set of FRAMES and I always want YOU to be a set of LEVERS.

Now that you know that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is just stick fighting; let’s break down what Guard means.  Guard is basically a wall.  And walls are built to provide protection.  Walls are built to protect you from people just walking into your house and helping themselves to your fridge. Similarly, it’s the same thing in Jiu Jitsu.  Meaning, that Guard is just a big fat wall that keeps your opponent away from your head, neck and torso.

And what do all walls need?  All walls need support.

Oh no!!

Oh yeah!!

All walls need to be supported by a frame.

Thus, your Guard is simply a wall that’s supported by a frame.  Furthermore, your Guard needs to be strongly supported to keep your opponent’s weight from smashing down on your head, neck and torso.

Half Guard with the Underhook. You NEED to frame with your shoulder or else you’re gonna get smashed!

Shins as walls. Femurs as frames. I am super safe in this Open Guard position against a kneeling opponent.

Sweet High Closed Guard with my knee acting as a wall and my femur acting as the frame!

Open Guard Frame pointed at my standing opponent who wants to smash me like a baked potato.

Okay, so now we know that Guard is simply a wall, what’s equally important is to know that Guard is a wall that needs a frame.  Much like how a wall without a frame will simply fall, your Guard without the proper framing won’t stop you from getting smashed by a bigger, stronger opponent.

So, now we need to..


Our opponents will try and run around the wall and they’ll try to tear the wall down.

Here’s a quick video on how to keep the wall pointed at our opponents.

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Pretty sweet video heh?  I know, I know, these two Black Belts are just waaaayyyy too good looking 😉

Okay, let’s summarize the video.

Every Guard needs a frame.

All frames need two things:

  1. Hooks- to stop your opponent from just running around your wall
  2. Hands- to stop your opponent from just removing your frames

Let’s look at Guard Passing.  If Guard is just a wall; then, in the same way, Guard Passing is just getting to the other side of the wall.

There’s only 4 types of Guard Passes:

1) I can go around the wall. Toreando Pass. Matador Pass.

2) I can go under the wall. Double Under Pass. Leg Drag Pass.

3) I can go through the wall. Knee Cut Pass. Knee Over Pass.

4) I can go over the wall. Over/Under Pass. Smash Pass.

In the video below, I break down this simplified perspective on Guard Passing. Let’s take a look at what I mean:

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Okay, so now that Guard Passing is simplified for you, I’d now like to introduce you to my GRAND UNIFIED THEORY ON GUARD RETENTION.

My GUT on Guard Retention is build on 3 pillars:

  1. Head
  2. Hands
  3. Frames

Whether it’s Butterfly Guard, Dela Riva Guard or Closed Guard, these 3 things need to be a part of the system or else you’re going to get your Guard passed.

Let’s quickly look at each of these things in greater detail.

Head. You always need to protect your head. If your opponent can punch you; then, you don’t have a strong, offensive Guard. By “Head”, I also mean chest, neck and collar. I can not let my opponent grab my collar. I can’t let them drive their shoulder into my jaw. And I can not let them place their knee on my chest and start to smash me. Protecting your head is a key element to maintaining a strong formidable Guard. If your opponent is able to control your collar, smash into your neck or hinder you from breathing in any way; then, this will be the beginning of the end of your Guard.

Hands. Hands keep your frames safe. Plus, they keep your head and collar safe. As well, hands are used as hooks so that you can keep your frames pointed at your opponent. And finally, hands act like frames when your “Leg” Guard is passed and you need to use your “Arm” Guard to stop your opponent from smashing you.

Frames. Frames are the sticks to point out at your opponent. These sticks are your shins, your feet and your knees. These are the walls that keep your opponent away from you.
Frames constantly need two things in order to be effective.

Hooks- to stop your opponent from just running around you

Hands- to stop your opponent from just moving your frames.

Consequently, the Guard Retention GUT of Head/Hands/Frames is kinda like spinning plates. There’s three plates spinning on three sticks. Sometimes, one plate needs all of your attention because it’s starting wobble and it’s about to fall. You give the wobbling plate some attention and momentum but right away you’ve got to jump to another plate that’s wobbling.

Think of Head/Hands/Frames as a tripod where each of these elements make up a leg. If one leg is missing the entire tripod collapses. Each component is critically important. When your Guard gets passed, it is because one of these elements was not being maintained.

With this GUT, you can now self diagnose why and how your Guard got defeated and what you can do to fix it. So, with this simple three prong formula, you can be your own coach and solve any Guard Retention problems you come across.

As a result, the main problem with the Guard Retention GUT is that you’ll have a hard time prioritizing how to use your hands.

Should I use my hands to grip strip the collar control?
Maybe I should use my hands to defend against the crossface?
Perhaps I need to use my hand to strip my opponent’s control of my pant leg?
Should I use my hand to hook my opponent’s heel so they don’t run around my frames?

The correct answer is..DO ALL OF IT!!  Your hands will be moving the most when you are playing Guard Retention.  Fast hands win fights!

Here’s the video I made that breaks down the Guard Retention GUT.

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And now, here’s the shocking finale.  Ultimately, this is so surprising that many of you may need a bucket near by when you hear it..

Guard Retention and Guard Attacks ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!!

That’s right…Guard Retention and Guard Attacks are two completely different strategies.

If you’re confused, great!  You should be. This means that your Guard Retention is about to get 1000X better 🙂

Here’s my latest video that breaks it all down.

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So, in conclusion, we have the entire topic of Guard Retention neatly wrapped up on a single blog article.

If this helped your Guard game even the slightest bit, I would totally appreciate you sharing this article with your friends and training partners 🙂


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