How To Combat An Open Guard Player In BJJ

Have you ever rolled with somebody who somehow turns into an octopus-like creature when they are sitting down and playing open guard?

They will likely start using their gigantic reach to frame against you and prevent you from stepping in to smash their guard. Furthermore, they might even control you in a way that will end you up in a terrible position before you have even realized what happened.

The open guard can be a great position for some, but if you know how to break through this guard, you will have a significant advantage when you enter a competition.

Today, Evolve Vacation brings you “How To Combat An Open Guard Player In BJJ”.


The objective

If you’re in a standing position and your opponent is sitting in an open guard position, your objective is clear.

You need to pass the legs.

There isn’t all that much more to it. If you can pass his legs and establish a dominant position, the most threatening elements of his guard are now nullified.

Keep your objective as simple as possible. You shouldn’t be looking to rolling kimura somebody or attempting to snatch his neck for a choke submission – just focus on passing his legs.

As simple as this objective might sound, you will often run into some problems.


The challenges

An exceptional open guard player is possibly the most frustrating type of opponent to meet.
They might not be overwhelmingly threatening while they are sitting down, and there is a minimal risk of submission, yet people often concede to giving up a poor position to their opponent just due to frustration.

There is no need to be frustrated, though, because a well-executed guard pass will result in you locking down a desirable position.

Let’s begin by looking at some of the challenges that you will face with excellent open guard players.


Difficulty passing their guard

This one might seem obvious, but you are going to have difficulty when trying to pass their guard in a typical manner.

They will use their feet as brilliant ways to intercept you as you move forward to close the distance. They will maintain a strong posture, all while shuffling and scooting around the mat. They’ve got four limbs to effectively frame against your body as you move forward into the desired territory.



If they’re especially good, you’re going to potentially be swept as you try to step in and pass their guard. They might transition to x-guard and start causing you problems there. Or they might even stall and frustrate you long enough before attempting a double outside Ashi entry or even an Imanari roll to attack your legs. If they connect and maintain grips, you will also be looking at problems as they start to control you from positions such as De La Riva guard.



Excellent open guard players will want to form a connection with you. Sadly, they might not be looking for friendship at this time – rather it is a connection with your gi or one of your limbs so that they can begin controlling you and breaking your posture. If your opponent secures grips, you must focus on breaking these immediately.



One of the most understated aspects of trying to pass open guard is just how tiring it is. While your opponent sits back waiting for you to engage, you will likely be moving quickly side-to-side while trying to get a convenient angle to attack and pass his guard. When you do, you will likely have to try and use pressure or agility to pass, and this uses some of your physical capacity. Playing open guard for too long can drain your energy, so if you haven’t been training your cardio well enough, you probably don’t want to try and attack an open guard player for too long.


Passing the open guard

Now that you understand some of the difficulties and challenges that you might be running into when facing open guard players, it’s now time to shift our focus toward passing their guard and securing a dominant position.

We will discuss two passes that can be incredibly effective when facing an open guard player.



You might have already attempted a modification of the x-pass without even realizing. In the video above, Jason Scully discusses the importance of standing in an athletic stance. This is a pass that requires agility and speed just as much as proper technique.

It starts by putting your foot in between your opponent’s legs and then pointing your knee outward. If you straighten your leg, it can release their foot hook that will likely be placed well underneath your upper leg. Control his opposite leg with your hand while also focusing your attention on pulling the other arm up. Once you have secured this level of control, you can then kick your leg up and around to pass his guard.

Once you complete the pass, your arms will form an ‘X’ over your opponent’s body, which will help to prevent inversions and other funky escapes now that you have secured a version of side control or knee on belly.


Toreando Guard Pass

The Toreando guard pass is mightily common throughout all levels of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In fact, top-level guys such as Leandro Lo have been using this pass for years with great success.

The pass simply involves controlling your opponent’s legs in such a way that you can shift their entire body and remove the danger of their legs.

In the video above, Leandro Lo explains that your objective is to control the legs (or pants) of your opponent in a way so that you can force their shins back toward his upper body. By pushing his legs back in this way, it breaks his posture and strength from the position, and his natural reaction is to push back toward you so that he can regain some strength. If he begins to push back toward you, it will make the Toreando pass even more effective.

Step back out of your opponent’s reach before simply sliding their body around and removing his legs from the equation. From here, you can control the legs of your opponent all the way until you secure side control or any other form of top position.

Open guard players don’t seem so scary now, huh?


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