Tonight’s lesson moved away from MMA clinch and Muay Thai to explore ground-fighting and working from the guard. This topic came up after MMA sparring in the previous lesson, where my client expressed problems with executing effective movement whilst holding a closed guard position.
We warmed up with our usual set of mobility exercises into calisthenics. Then we completed a series of calisthenic exercises specifically for ground-fighting. This consisted of various crawls and also snaking/shrimping variations to cover mobility whilst fighting from the guard.
The guard-work specifically addressed moving out of and back into the closed guard. We built up a series of guard positions whilst being mindful of two key points when transitioning. Firstly, control the opponent’s hips. It very hard for an opponent to do anything in a grappling position when their hips are blocked. This is particularly important when you are fighting from an open guard. Secondly, keep a minimum of three control points at all times.
The series of positions we used were closed guard, half-guard left, butterfly guard, half-guard right and then back to closed guard. Through these positions we looked for various attacks and counter-attacks, including climbing arm-bar, classical arm-bar, triangle choke, oma plata and heel hook. As the flow became more fluid, so pressure was added and various problems were addressed. This built into a 60% sparring bout, re-starting after a dominant position was won. We acknowledged the specific sparring in this context, which wholly consisted of guard-passing and attacking from the guard, was pure Brazilian jiu jitsu/submission grappling in nature. We will begin to add MMA elements the next lesson. I thought it best to focus on getting my client comfortable with using his guard positions again before we introduced strikes and other ranges.
Photography by Charlotte Bulow Quirk featuring Tony Hughes and Jamie Clubb