Many of my recent posts were about no-gi. This time, I will go back to gi and break down Tomoyuki Hashimoto’s back take from the closed guard.
Tomoyuki is one of the best BJJ players Japan has produced and competes under Carpe Diem in Tokyo. When he visits the US, he trains with Caio Terra.
The sequence I will talk about is from his match against Lucas Pinheiro at Pan American 2018. Lucas Pinheiro is known for his guard passing skills and currently competes under ATOS.
Tomoyuki makes use of his opponent’s gi for this back take, but you could apply the principles behind this move to no-gi situations as well. So, even if you are a no-gi only person, you still might want to check out the following.
Watch this GIF for Tomoyuki’s back take sequence first.
Tomoyuki gets into the closed guard from an inverted guard situation. He uses his left hand to control Lucas’s left sleeve with the spider guard grip (i.e., hooking his fingers into Lucas’s sleeve). This cross grip is effective because you can twist your opponent’s upper body.
Lucas tries to get out of the closed guard right away by bringing his right leg up and pushing Tomoyuki’s left leg down, getting into a lunge position.
I’m actually not sure why Lucas was in a rush and decided to do this. My best guess is that there were about 2 mins left, he was losing by one advantage, and he realized it would be difficult for him to deal with Tomoyuki’s closed guard, which Tomoyuki could use to stall. So Lucas desperately needed to avoid this closed guard situation. Whatever Lucas’s motivation behind his move was, Tomoyuki capitalizes on this situation.
Lucas becomes less stable when he tries to bring his right leg up. Tomoyuki grabs Lucas’s gi, above Lucas’s elbow and near Lucas’s armpit, and drags Lucas’s arm. He probably uses his legs to pull Lucas in and assist the arm drag as well.
This is a simple maneuver, but it would be hard to pull off when your opponent is fully resisting. In this case, Tomoyuki’s timing is perfect, and that’s why it’s working so well here.
Tomoyuki changes his angle as he does the arm drag. He keeps his sleeve grip and pins Lucas’s hand to the mat.
Tomoyuki starts climbing up to take Lucas’s back. He reaches for Lucas’s right armpit so he can grab hold of Lucas’s gi. This armpit grip assists Tomoyuki in getting behind Lucas completely.
One thing that’s interesting but hard to see is how Tomoyuki hooks his feet on Lucas’s right thigh. He doesn’t have the standard double hooks. Instead, he hooks his left foot on Lucas’s outer thigh and, on top of that, hooks his right foot on Lucas’s inner thigh. It’s a bit like doing the X-guard.
This image is from a bit later in the sequence, though it’s not included in the GIF above.
By the way, Tomoyuki doesn’t get 4 points for the back take right away because of these hooks. He gets 4 points only after he switches to the standard hooks on both of Lucas’s thighs.
Now, Tomoyuki is on Lucas’s back. Lucas tries to get rid of Tomoyuki’s sleeve grip, but Tomoyuki uses this situation to his advantage. Tomoyuki threads his right arm through Lucas’s armpit and gets a wrist grip. This grip allows Tomoyuki to let go of the sleeve grip.
After this exchange, Tomoyuki starts working on getting the seatbelt and secures the back control shortly after.
Tomoyuki displays a beautiful technique in this sequence, where he takes advantage of his opponent’s motion to set up the arm drag at the right timing and takes the back with perfect control.
The closed guard is not in style and hardly used, but it doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. Active competitors like Tomoyuki Hashimoto and Brianna Ste Marie use the closed guard well and beat high-level competitors with it. Don’t ignore it, but make sure to explore what you could do from the closed guard.