Custom Search

February 12, 2011

Roll With The Pro... February: Exercises for a Stronger Guard

This month's roll with a pro is a little bit more advanced in the way that you will need a few items and a little help from a friend to complete the circuit.
Thanks to Gabriel "Gladiator" Santos and Jeremy Ross of Gabriel Gladiator BJJ and American Mixed Martial  Arts Academy in East Longmeadow.

500lb Tractor Tire
Medium Stability Ball
35lb Plate
Belt from a Gi
Resistance bands secured at one end to a stationary object and a waist belt on the other.
Pilates resistance bands (these usually are colored according to resistance value and are flat not tubular)
A training partner at least as big as you but not smaller.

1) Get your tire up on the treads with the spotter on the opposite side of the opening.  Assume a prone position, lifting your legs while on your back place your feet on the surface of the tire about half way up.  At this point communicate to your partner that you can begin bearing some weight and while the tire is tipped over begin stepping up the tire wall until you are at the outside edge.  Your spotter should stay close by as you take the weight of the tire on your legs and lower back.  Lower your knees to your chest and press the tire back to a 45 degree angle.  Do this 4 times for 12 reps.

2) On a matted surface you and your partner will practice the Butterfly Guard Technique.  This is done 3 times for 10 reps per person.

3)Lunges with partner. This technique is quite basic but when you add the weight and off centered feeling of having someone on your shoulders it becomes the ultimate conditioner.  Do this 3 times 1 minute rounds

4) Walking Lunges with Partner.  For this exercise you will first secure a belt from a Gi or other uniform around your waist.  Your partner will assume the Piggy Back position.  With the partners legs above the belt grab hold of the belt and begin taking long strides forward about ten then turn and return to start continuing for the entire minute and a half.  Do this 3 times for 1min 30sec.

5) Conditioning your core muscles can be done in many ways.  All of them are important because the key to an unbreakable guard is in your core.  For this exercise you'll need a medium stability ball and a 35lb plate weight.  Lying on a mat begin by placing the ball between your knees and squeezing with your knees lift your feet off the ground bringing your knees to a 90 degree angle with your hips and hold.  Now with your 35lb plate in firm grasp at chest level, but not resting on your chest. The next motion will be the hard one.  Keeping your knees at a 90 while squeezing the ball bring your shoulders up off the mat and crunch up toward your knees.  Do this 3 times for 20 reps.

6)Another great technique is jumping to guard.  For this you will need Resistance Bands tied to a solid fixed object at one end and loop a weight training belt through and secure to your waist.  Your partner will stand a few feet from you and you will stand at the end of the length of cord but not stretching them, yet.  Be sure your partner understands that he or she will need to be ready to have you hanging off of them and that the bands will be pulling you away from each other.  If this is agreeable then proceed.
Start by jumping guard facing each other. Once in guard while standing lower yourself to the side and grasp your partners calf with one arm while the other maintains wrist control of the opposite arm.  Raise up and repeat on the opposite side.  Do this 1 time with 12 reps each side.

7)Well we worked the inside of our legs with the stability ball so now we need to condition our ankles and groins.  Using the pilates resistance bands (not pictured) lye on your back knees bent and inside edges of your feet touching with a slight spread at the knees wrap the resistance band above your knees and secure it with a knot or other method.  Begin by focusing on keeping your knees from touching while really concentrating on spreading your knees apart in a smooth controlled motion.  Do this 3 times for 1 min round.

8)  We will be jumping to guard again with the exception of wearing the belt and bands.  Facing your partner jump into a standing guard.  Begin to work your way around to take your partners back without leaving the guard.  Take your time and use your judgement of what is safe for you and your partner.  Once around fully you have done one rep.  Do this 3 times for 1 minute rounds.

9)Take it back to the mats and work or your guard no that your tired.  With a partner roll with the objective of keeping the guard locked and secure.  Once your guard has been broken return to the beginning position.  Remember to work your hips, keep them at an angle to the floor and your opponent.  Hips flat on the floor are a sure way to lose momentum.  Do this 1 time for a 5 minute round.

The above routine is a fine way to improve your guard.  We'd also like to remind folks to take at least 45 sec between each exercise.  There is no need to rush.  Take your time and it will be second nature the next time you call upon that skill.
Thanks to Gabriel "Gladiator" Santos and his student Jeremy Ross for their contribution to this month's Roll With The Pro helping to "Get You Closer To The Cage."

Joe Leonard is a contributing author at and a student of Team Ravenous MMA at ATA in South Deerfield, MA. Visit their site for class info @