May 22

Guard Pulling



Pulling guard does have its application in actual fighting and
self defense. Although, in a street fight or competition,
personally, I would only use guard pulling as a last resort – I
am not about to debate this. There is an argument to be made
for pulling guard – I respect that.

What I do not respect is pulling guard in training. It does not
take skill to pull guard. In other words, you are not going to
become a better “guard puller” by pulling guard in training.
Yes, it does take a certain awareness to pull guard best – but
pulling guard everyday for years isn’t going to create any gains.
Whatever awareness needed for pulling guard can be developed
in a month of situational live drilling.

This is the same argument I make with boxing. When drilling
striking drills back and forth, I tell my guys in my MMA gym in Miami, FL
to never “shell up”
or “turtle up” with their forearms. That takes no skill and comes
instinctual. Get a guy in the supermarket and start swinging
wildly at him – he will cover up with his forearms and hope for
the best… this is instinct… doing this during drilling
sessions makes no gains. Instead, use parries, blocks, slips, etc.
In a real fight, when you get overwhelmed, you’ll shell up – you
don’t need extra training for that.

With regards to grappling, never pull guard in training… that is
ALWAYS there for you in a real fight… WORK YOUR TAKEDOWN


There are three reasons why grapplers pull guard… one, because
they lack takedown skills… two, they are

tired… and three, they are injured and want to avoid the
wrestling game. The third reason is a legit reason and I not only
respect that – I would recommend it. If you are injured, there is
no need to further your injuries.

However, reasons one and two SUCK SUCK SUCK!!!! 🙂 If you lack
takedown skills – pulling guard will only further weaken your
ability to pick up takedowns. When you pull guard in training, it
now trains your mind to have that potential exit… so when the
going gets tough during a takedown scramble, you will pull guard.
However, if you NEVER train guard pulling, then that is one exit
strategy less that your subconscious will have during a big

It is like when Cortez invaded the ancient Aztecs… when he
arrived on the shores, he knew he was heavily outnumbered, so he
ordered his men to burn the boats… now the only way out was
through victory – and they won! His men fought harder because they
knew there was no retreat… they had to fight or die.

Same goes with pulling guard in training… if you pull guard in
training, then in a real fight when you “want” to defend the
takedown, when the going gets tough, you will retreat to your
boats… which is pulling guard. However, if you eliminate guard
pulling from your list of responses, then your takedown defense
will be better because you will fight to the bitter end.

The second reason people pull guard is because they are tired…
WRONG! That is not the REAL reason. Yes, they are tired… so why
don’t they let their training opponent shoot in on them and get
taken down? Because their ego… they don’t want to “give up” a
takedown… so instead they opt to pull guard… thinking that
somehow this is more honorable. It is quite the opposite! It is
the cowards way out!

Don’t feel bad if you do such things, it is a temptation that I
feel at times as well! The other day I was working five rounds of
five minutes with my top guys in the gym. They train twice a day –
I hadn’t trained regularly in months. I was dead exhausted after
the first five minute match – it was almost all wrestling
scrambles. Going into my second match, I felt a temptation to just
pull guard… and at that moment, I caught myself being a coward,
and told myself, “No, I will fight to the bitter end – there is no
honor in pulling guard!” The only reason I wanted to pull guard
was really to avoid “giving up” a takedown… and I realized it is
more manly to get taken down by an inferior wrestler than to pull

As a result, I made it all five rounds without getting taken down.
I “burned my boats” and it made a real difference. You got to do
the same thing. As legendary NFL Super Bowl Champion Coach

Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of men…”

Now if I was in a REAL fight and I was up against a three time NCAA
Champion Wrestler – I might pull guard. There is no need to waste
my energy if it is truly inevitable that I will be taken down anyways…
besides, if the wrestler’s ground game is weak, I’ll want to be fresher
and dryer when we hit the mat for my submissions. However, I
wouldn’t be training pulling guard for that match!


bjj, brazilian jiu jitsu, mixed martial arts, mma

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