How To Combat An X-Guard Player In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Learning how to defend x-guard is a little like learning to how to protect yourself from quicksand. You shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Nevertheless, if you are struggling to maintain your balance and prevent sweeps from the x-guard position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you should not be concerned. You’re not the only one having trouble defending this position.

In fact, being swept from the x-guard position is normal. The x-guard is so dominant that once the attacker is in position, there is seemingly a 75% chance (or more) of them succeeding with a sweep attempt or transition.

Although no magic trick will help you stop being swept from x-guard, there are some fundamental concepts that you should begin to understand and apply next time you’re on the mats.

As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than the cure.’

Today, Evolve Vacation brings you “How To Combat An X-Guard Player in BJJ.”

Understanding X-Guard

To understand how to defend the x-guard, we must first recognize the basic concepts of the position and understand the objectives for the person who is using it.

In the video above, 2x Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Teco Shinzato demonstrates five different x-guard sweeps that are possible. Although the outcomes range from taking the back to passing the guard, the fundamental element of executing an x-guard sweep remains the same – you must unbalance your opponent.

The x-guard is somewhat of a mixture between half guard and open guard. With your feet crossed on the far thigh of your opponent and their other foot place up and next to your shoulder, the attacker is in a prime position to attack and unbalance their opponent.

That makes the sweep sound a lot more difficult than it is, though. Once you have achieved the x-guard position, the hard work is done. In a way, the position is the final step of the process and much like our earlier comparison to quicksand, you’re already in significant trouble.


What makes a good x-guard player good?

Good x-guard players will look to safely and rapidly enter the position when it is available. Once there, they will begin to execute any number of different sweeps to end up in a dominant position. They will have entries to the position from butterfly guard and open guard. Most importantly, though, their x-guard will be so brilliant that once you are there, you will be unable to shake and escape the position.

In the video above, you can see Marcelo Garcia enter the x-guard position using a setup from the butterfly guard.


Prevention is better than the cure

Rather than diving into ways to limit the effectiveness of x-guard sweeps, let’s first understand the importance of stopping the position altogether.

If you are up against someone who is an x-guard player, your number one priority should be to deny the entry.

If they are using entries from butterfly guard (as Marcelo Garcia demonstrated above), be careful not to give them your body weight. If they can use their butterfly hooks to elevate you, they’ll quickly transition into x-guard, and it will already be too late. Even better, don’t get stuck in their butterfly guard if they are continually using this entry.

If they are engaging from a standing position, you must be first to initiate a move and takedown attempt. Rather than letting them patiently wait for their opportunity to slide into x-guard, you should make the first step. The takedown doesn’t have to be perfect. If it goes wrong in any way, you might end up in another position that doesn’t allow for entries into x-guard.

If you still can’t avoid getting stuck in x-guard, you have to scramble as soon as you sense danger. Don’t become frustrated and give up the position. Instead, quickly attempt to pass before they can secure your knee or place your foot on their shoulder. Additionally, try to peel down their foot that is on your thigh immediately, as well.

If you’re not having success with any of these techniques (let’s face it, there are some brilliant x-guard players out there), you’re going to need to understand how to beat them from the position.


The great escape

Much like the movie “The Great Escape,” our objective is to outwit our captors and escape a troublesome situation.

Fortunately, some smarter minds have already developed some practical ways to counter the x-guard position. For now, we are going to stick with two of the most likely ways that you will break their guard and escape the position – one is to ‘surf,’ and one is to ‘peel down.’


The Peel Down

The Peel Down pass is an x-guard pass that requires a masterful understanding of the x-guard position.

Firstly, the defender must understand the importance of a strong base and have the hips down so that he cannot straighten his legs. Secondly, you should control his outside arm so that he cannot put his elbow on the mat and create elevation. You can ideally lift his arm by using a tight grip near the wrist and keeping his arm straight.

Next, focus on applying weight toward the head of your opponent before pushing his foot down and back-stepping around to side control.


X-Guard Surf

The x-guard surf is a move that has been around for many years now. Necessarily, by shifting your weight backward before moving forward and generating forward momentum, you can lean and slide the leg that is over their shoulder over their head and across to the other side of his body. Your hand will then fall in his armpit while you ‘surf’ on his body and transition into side control.


In summary, your primary focus should be preventing the x-guard position. But if you do happen to find yourself there, make sure you are familiar with the two escapes mentioned above.


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