The Guard In MMA

By Zaithyn Galter Published 07/16/2008 | Sports
The guard has been a position utilized in Mixed Martial Arts competitions for a very long time. Although the origins of the position are the subject of much debate, the general consensus is that what we call the guard evolved from Japanese Jujitsu and Judo. Since the position was introduced to Brazilian fighters decades ago, the guard has become a very powerful weapon. Endless submissions and sweeps originate from this seemingly defensive position. To see the guard used to its fullest degree, drop into your local Brazilian Jujitsu school. But how effective is the guard in MMA?
Royce Gracie introduced most of us to the guard in the mid nineties when he fought in the original UFC matches. At that time very few people understood what he was doing and how he was able to use this position to tap out his opponents. The crowd was baffled and amazed when time and time again Royce would submit larger opponents from his back. Before long, many fighters would follow suit and the guard would become a staple of MMA bouts.
As the sport evolved, many fans and officials became frustrated with what they considered stalling. Fighters were holding their opponents in the closed guard for entire fights without doing much of anything, which halted the action and slowed the momentum of the fights. Some fighters in MMA became well known for butt scooting across the canvas. Audiences typically dont like this sort of thing. To combat this, officials began to stand up the fighters and enforce a time limit on time spent on the ground without action. The sport evolved once more.
And that brings us to today.
You would be hard pressed to find one MMA fighter that did not have some understanding of guard work. Fighters are much better rounded now, which translates into cross training between disciplines. Even well known stand up fighters are seen working from their backs from time to time. But how effective is the guard now that the rule changes have been implemented and fighters are better versed in it?
Its hard to say either way. In the past, fighters who were primarily guard players could contain their opponents and wait for them to gas out and slip up. Since the pace of the fights is much quicker, guard players must press the action much more. They cannot wait for their opponents to tire any longer. It is much more common now to see guard players like BJ Penn and Nick Diaz attempting a long series of submissions all in a row.
There are some fighters who have a very dominant ground game but choose not to fight from their backs. Many wrestlers tend to fight this way. Matt Hughes is a perfect example of a fighter who avoids going to his back. This fighting style may be more tailored to the modern form of MMA.

On the other side of the coin, many fighters are style enlisting the aid of guard gurus like Eddie Bravo and the Gracie family to advance their game. In the last UFC several of the fights ended in submission, many of which where attempted from the back. So, while it is true that some fighters are choosing to lean towards stand-up and ground n pound tactics, many are still choosing to equip themselves with a strong guard game.
Its been fifteen years since Royce Gracie first introduced us to the guard and its use in MMA competition. Although things have changed quite a bit over the years, the guard remains to be a key element in most fighters arsenals. Even those who dont use the guard certainly seem to respect it

MMA is Mixed Martial Arts competitions. Although the origins of the position are the subject of much debate, the general consensus is that what we call the guard evolved from Japanese Jujitsu and Judo. For more information visit -