To those uninitiated in martial arts or those uninformed about real-world combative skills, the seemingly inferior position of a Jiu Jitsu player fighting off his back using his legs to control, entrap, submit or reverse an attacker seems a baffling way to handle an opponent.
When the Gracie Family created the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) to showcase their art to the world, the general public watched with amazement as Royce Gracie fought, defeated and submitted several larger, stronger martial artists of various disciplines while fighting off of his back using a position called The Guard.
Master Carlos Gracie, Jr. explained the strategy and tactics of The Guard by using the analogy of a castle’s defensive walls:
“The Guard is like a fortress of a castle, a construction that gives security to Jiu Jitsu. He who has a solid wall to defend himself is better prepared for war. …From the top of the wall he can post his offensive arsenal.”
But The Guard is not intended as a place to simply hold and squeeze an opponent. In fact, letting the pace settle into a stalemate when an aggressive opponent is trying to attack will always leave the defender one step behind.
“But there is the possibility of lowering the drawbridge. You choose whether to fight with the bridge low or high. In a war the wisest path is to start the battle with the walls, completely blocking off your enemy.
"In the closed guard you are fighting with the opponent outside the walls. If the guy opens your guard, he lowers your bridge. It’s the threshold position, which obviously demands a new strategy."
"If he invades – that is, if he passes your guard and gets to the side – the battle starts developing inside your domain with you in a much more exposed position. It's gonna demand three times as much force to defend, but it doesn’t mean there’s no way out.”
One of the main tenets of Jiu Jitsu is becoming “comfortable in the uncomfortable.” Developing your Guard game, tactically and strategically, will take you past the level of mere survival and into the realm of victory.