It’s a Skill

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Most people overlook or even look down on this, but…

… guard pulling does require some skill.

When you pull the guard successfully, you will be in a position where you can start setting up your submission or sweep. A sweep is a takedown from the bottom, by the way.

When there’s a technical/size/strength gap between you and your opponent that makes taking them down much harder, guard pulling can neutralize your disadvantage.

In reality, the actual “pulling” part can be super simple, though people sometimes tend to overcomplicate it.

In many cases, all I do is just making some contact with my opponent (e.g. a grip on their sleeve/lapel) as the typical BJJ rulesets require it and then sitting down right away.

I make sure to misdirect my opponent before making that initial grip on their sleeve. I look at their collar and reach for it with my left hand, though I usually don’t care about securing that grip. It’s just a fake.

This typically creates some reaction from them, even for a brief moment. At the same time, I make a move with my right hand and get a grip that I actually want… and make a sudden level change.

This approach is simple, but can be vulnerable because you don’t have any defensive layer to stop your opponent from making a quick guard pass attempt.

So, I usually use my shin/foot/leg to create a mini-barrier right away and start building up my guard position.

That right there is a key phrase, by the way. “Start building up my guard position.” Meaning, I don’t expect to be in a perfect guard position right after pulling the guard. All I need is to be in a minimal & safe position once I’ve completed the guard pulling.

You should also know what kind of immediate threats there may be, depending on how you pull the guard.

The timing is crucial for getting the grip you want and sitting down/making a level change, and I think this is the main part of guard pulling that many people mess up with.

Sure, we all know that guard players will pull the guard no matter what, but you shouldn’t telegraph when exactly you will pull the guard if you want to become an excellent guard player.

Pay attention to your guard pulling timing so you will be able to improve it.

Happy guard pulling!
p.s. One more thing… if you are a beginner and somehow want to work on a sacrifice throw, be careful about it. If you’re going to pull the guard, you should work on it rather than trying to do a half-hearted sacrifice throw that will only get you into a worse position.

And if you actually want to do a sacrifice throw, don’t do it when you are in a desperate situation where you don’t know what else to do, but actively try to set up a situation where your sacrifice throw will likely to be effective.