Breaking Guard, Street Style

Breaking Guard, Street Style

I remember seeing the first couple Ultimate Fighting Championships, and although I saw this position called “guard” before, it was the first time I really got to see it in action in a combative sense.

Like most Americans, most of our ground fighting knowledge was from wrestling, where you never wanted to be on your back. But now there is this “new” position, where you were not only on your back, but had someone wrapped up in between your legs.

As I started teaching martial arts in the early 1990’s, I saw people with wrestling experience flail around like a fish out of water when jiu jitsu guys would wrap their legs around them. As martial arts went through this growth spurt, having to learn how to cope with ground fighting, I saw more and more of my students start to have a little bit more of an education in grappling, where I would see guard and other jiu jitsu moves more often when sparring.

As I got deeper into jiu jitsu myself, and then started to teach the moves, the “guard break” was always one of the common moves people would not only want to learn, but many times would take the longest to teach. “Passing” someone’s guard took patience and a lot of repetitions in order to build the muscle memory and balance to do this move correctly. Add in the fact that there are numerous ways to do this technique, and dozens upon dozens of variations to the position itself, it is easy to get overwhelmed and even focused on the wrong thing.

The wrong thing? Yes, you have to remember that most people do “traditional or sport” jiu jitsu, which is different than ground fighting with a street fighter’s mindset. This is not to disrespect these styles or moves, but simply saying that once you throw in strikes, biting, eye gouging and other brutal moves, the focus changes, and that is the point I want to make here. While “grappling” arts focus on solid technique, sometimes they forget that in a real life altercation, where attackers don’t care about weight classes, or any rules, your tactics should change as well.

Instead of taking our time, and working specific leverage points, I want to show you a more direct way we can get out of guard in the street, during a real altercation. You’ll notice this is not what is taught in your local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school, as it shortcuts trivial techniques when more violent moves aren’t allowed. With that being said, traditional training will give you the base attributes which are needed for any techniques.

First, we need a solid base, by keeping our knees well spread apart, with our shoulders back and chest out and arms outstretched and pushing on the person’s hips. Everything up to this point, is textbook jiu jitsu positioning, as it gives you a solid foundation and keeps your face back and out of the way of most strikes.

Next, we put our hands on their biceps, pinning their arms down to the ground, further taking away their ability to grab and strike. From there we use the top of our head to head butt them, and then jump to our feet. After that, we viciously punch their groin, which will release their guard hold if they haven’t already released it. Remember to pin your knees inward, in order to put pressure and control. At this point, we can either push their legs out of the way to move to a side position or mount, or simply escape.

My lesson that I wanted to share here, is once again stating there are several different ways we can pass guard, but the way I just showed does it faster, while inflicting damage so we can gain better control or escape the situation. Traditional styles and moves give us the basis, but don’t forget to have these methods in your arsenal as well.

For the full video of this sequence of techniques, click here: