Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team History, Fighter Stats, Biographies and News

Copa Podio

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)

Digitsu Free BJJ Techniques

The guard is arguably the greatest contribution Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has given to Grappling Martial Arts. The guard player, known in Portuguese as ‘Guardeiro’, is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner or competitor who has the guard as his/her preferred position when competing or sparring. A position is considered a guard any time when one grappler has their back towards the ground, while attempting to control his opponent using his own legs. There are several ways of using the position, some more orientated towards sport Jiu Jitsu (gi and no gi), others for Self Defence or Mixed Martial Arts, and the position can be used both offensively, defensively, or even to stall/slow down the opponent or the momentum of a fight.

Brief History of The Guard in Jiu Jitsu

The guard was not a creation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and was utilized by several different martial art styles many years before arriving to Brazil by the hands (or legs if you rather) of Mitsuyo Maeda, Soishiro Satake and Co. Although the position had been in use for a while, It was greatly developed and improved by Helio Gracie in the 1930’s, specifically the open guard. Helio introduced a more offensive style to the position while improving on old techniques and developing some of his own. Both Carlos and Helio are often seen as the first men to use the guard as their “plan A” when competing.

With Helio Gracie being in charge of the technical development of the family in the fighting game, it didn’t come as a surprise that the guard became the position of choice by many of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu practitioners that learnt from him.

With Jiu Jitsu being established as a sport in the late 1960s/early 1970s, a point system was put in place to decide the victor of each fight based on standardized positions and moves that were foreseen as technical. Meaning that in order for a guard player to score a point, he would have to “sweep” (invert the positions using his guard) by utilizing a strict set of techniques such as Tomoe-nage (balloon sweep), scissor sweep, etc. Even with such strict rules, the sporting facet of Jiu Jitsu posed a different set of problems that submission only events and Vale-Tudo (no holds barred) fights did not. This opened the doors to great improvements in positions such as the open guards, the butterfly guard and the creation of the De La Riva and closed guard products of the 70’s and 80’s technical growth spurt in BJJ.

In 1994 the CBJJ (Confederação Brasileira de Jiu Jitsu) was created, re-opening Jiu Jitsu’s rule book. This loosened the guard player’s boundaries, making the sweep points available to any inversion when the guard was in use. This change in the rules opened up the gates of creativity for the ‘guardeiro’ and many styles of guards blossomed from it. First the Spider Guard, quickly followed by the Half Guard, Inverted Guard, and many others, all these positions were closely linked with the Gracie Barra team at the time, one of the main beacons for the development of the sport in the mid 1990s.

The use of the gi (kimono) as a tool to create leverage has always been one of Jiu Jitsu’s keys to success as a sport. The use of the gi was one of Nova Uniao‘s best assets when dominating (to an extent) the lightweight divisions in the late 90’s and 2000’s decades. Their magnificent trio (Robson Moura, Shaolin and Leo Santos) were at the forefront of the lapel game in the half guard and open guards, this would be later taken above and beyond in the open guard by competitors such as Braulio Estima, Michelle Nicolini or Keenan Cornelious.

After the ‘no knee reaping’ directive was added to the BJJ rule book in the mid 2000’s, positions such as the 50/50 Guard and the Berimbolo were found to deal with problems the rule imposed. These positions became the fashion, especially in the lighter weight divisions.

Some Notable Guard Players

The Guard in Use

The guard in Grappling (No Gi Jiu Jitsu): Robson Moura (guard player) vs Wilson Reis

The guard in Sport Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: Roleta Magalhaes (guard player) vs Saulo Ribeiro

The Guard in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts): Fabrício Werdum (guard player) vs Fedor Emelianenko Fedor

Picture by William Burkhardt of

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.