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A Critical Movement to Transition from
Closed Guard to Open Guard in BJJ

Note to the reader: this is lesson 24 of the Beginning BJJ eCourse. To receive the other lessons by email please sign up for the free email-based course

In the last lesson I talked about some critical details and principles of an effective closed guard.

So I want to start today's lesson by talking about a very common error made by many new BJJ practitioners. Take a look at the photo below. I'm lying there with my ankles uncrossed. My legs aren't controlling my opponent in at all.

Bad Open Guard, Neither Open nor Closed
This Is NOT the Closed Guard!
(And it's not an Open Guard postion either)

I want to make this crystal clear: what I'm demonstrating above is NOT the closed guard. It's not even the open guard.

It's an in-between, good-for-nothing position with very few offensive options. If I use it on a good opponent he'll realize what's going on and pass my guard in one or two quick moves.

So with the closed guard you're either in or out. Keep him tightly controlled between your legs, or bite the bullet and move to the open guard position of your choice.

Even if you specialize in the closed guard there will be times that you're going to end up in the open guard. Therefore knowing the correct way to get from the closed guard to the open guard is a very important skill to master.

Here is one way to do just that:

Four Steps from Closed to Open Guard

Angle 1
Angle 2

I have Don in my closed guard


Closed to Open Guard Transition 1 second angle


Closed to Open Guard Transition 1


Opening my legs I plant my right foot on the ground


Closed Guard to Open Guard 2 alternate angle


Closed Guard to Open Guard 2


My left foot goes on Don's hip and I move my hips backwards to create some space.


Closed Guard to Open Guard Transition 3


Closed Guard to Open Guard Transition 3 Alternate Angle


I then put my other foot on the hip to establish a form of open guard.

Closed Guard to Open Guard Transition 4


Closed Guard to Open Guard Transition 4 Alternate Angle


This move may seem simple, but it needs to be drilled many times so that it becomes absolutely instinctive.

Funny as it may sound, once you learn this movement you then need to remember to use it in sparring. If you're busy trying to break your opponent's posture and/or set up an attack it's easy to forget about the lower half of your body and just let your legs dangle in the air doing nothing.

Remember: you're either in closed guard, or you're in a specific form of open guard. Don't lie there in an in-between position; that's the twilight zone where you're neither controlling your opponent nor preventing his guard pass.

Stephan Kesting

P.S. The pictures for this lesson are from first DVD of the Roadmap for BJJ Package

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