Understanding the Octopus Guard in BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s guard-playing style appeals to a lot of grapplers. In terms of defense, the guard enables you to build up assaults by sweeping your opponent and gaining a dominant position or applying different submissions that potentially terminate the match. BJJ is an avenue for creative expression. Nothing beats the fundamentals, but as you get better, playing guard gives you greater freedom to be creative with your BJJ and even to partially circumvent some of its basic rules. Today, we’ll discuss the octopus guard, an unusual style of BJJ guard technique.

Looking at the Octopus Guard

The octopus guard was created by Eduardo Telles, a BJJ world winner known for his unique grappling style. Because Telles has an unusual way of grappling, he created the octopus guard. This stance is hard to defend against if you don’t know how the other person can attack from it.

You start the octopus guard from the closed and half guard. Most of the time, the closed guard breaks the opponent’s posture, performs sweeps and submissions, and gets behind them with moves like the arm drag. In the closed guard, you use the octopus guard after clearing your opponent’s hands and pushing them to one side. You do this by sitting up and grabbing behind their far lat with your near hand. Wrapping your arm behind your opponent makes it hard for them to stand up, which shows their back.

The person on top may look like they are about to pass the octopus guard and get a mount or side control, but it takes work to pass. You can also use the calf slicer or a kimura to attack as an alternative to the back mount. This is because it is common for the opponent to put an arm across your body to block the octopus guard.

Setting Up from a Closed Guard

The first setup from a closed guard is for an opponent standing up. Bringing your opponent’s elbow into their center line should be your primary goal. If they are chest-to-chest with you, making an angle and moving to the side will be hard. To do this, you can hold your opponent two-on-one, drag their arm, or pull them with your legs while turning your head the other way. As you sit up, move your body to the side and put your arm on the mat. As you sit up, put your far lat under your opponent’s shoulder and reach for their far lat. You should be on the lookout for octopuses now.

To use the two-on-one grip to set up the octopus guard and sweep the opponent, move their left arm to your left to make an angle. You can instantly use your left hand to grab their far lat. As you sit up, put your left foot on the mat and your right arm on the mat. Putting your right hand on the mat, not just your elbow, will help you get your head higher than your opponent. Putting your left leg on the mat will help you get your hips higher than your opponent’s.

Setting Up from Half Guard

The knee shield, in particular, is where the octopus guard is most commonly employed from the half guard. Move closer to the opponent from the shallow knee shield, where your knee does not cross the opponent’s center line. When in half guard, your opponent often tries to crush your upper body with the cross face. To avoid this, close the distance until you can pass your opponent’s arm over your head by keeping your hand close like you would in a boxing high guard.

With one hand posting on the mat, hold the opponent’s far lat to maintain half guard and transition into octopus guard. An important point to remember is to apply sufficient pressure to the opponent’s hands by gripping beneath their armpit and maintaining your elbow tight on their back. You should lean back to support the octopus guard if the opponent is upright.

Final Thoughts

The Octopus Guard is a great guard where you can express your creativity. We promise that you will surprise a lot of unwary training partners if you practice the octopus guard and become familiar with the ins and outs of the posture.

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