BJJ Techniques: How to Break Posture in Closed Guard

Updated on April 2, 2020
revolutionbjj profile image

Andrew Smith is a BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, Virginia. He is one of the owners of Revolution BJJ.

Controlling a partner's posture in closed guard.
Controlling a partner's posture in closed guard.

Posture Makes or Breaks

Closed guard has long been understood to be a strong position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, both from a sport and from a self-defense point of view. However, what really makes or breaks your effectiveness from the closed guard is often whether or not you can control your partner's posture. This represents at least 90% of your submission attack game when you're on the bottom.

Here are three distinctly different but effective ways to break your partner's posture when they're being frustratingly tall in your guard.

Elbow Flare

One of the simplest maneuvers you can use here is the "elbow flare." Start with your partner in your closed guard, with their hands on your ribs or sternum (classic posture). It is important for you to understand that their strength in this position derives from their ability to straighten their arms completely, creating a powerful frame between you and them with their outstretched arms.

The solution: Attack the most vulnerable part—the elbow. Sit up and simply flare both elbows out with your hands. As your partner begins to crash down, be sure to parry to avoid any inadvertent headbutts (just move your head out of the way). From here, if your partner's hand ends up on the mat, you may want to go into one of the classic overhook closed-guard sequences.

Double Lapels

This has fast become my favorite gi technique for breaking posture, even though I've likely been using variations of this for the past 20 years or so. Here, you really just need to start by grabbing both lapels of your partner, ideally when your partner's hands are in that classic lower position, typically on your solar plexus or lower rib area.

Once you have a solid grip on the lapels, you can try pulling downward in a straight line, but remember that your partner is making a very strong frame with both of their arms outstretched (you can think of it as 100% bone, since their forearm and biceps line up via their elbows locking out). Instead, swing from side to side (using these same lapels!) in order to find a weakness in your partner's ability to grip and frame. You'll find it.

Arm Swim

Since their hands are preventing you from sitting up, try moving one of them out of the way. Here's one way: as you begin to sit up, "swim" your left arm under their (right) posting arm. This should enable you to snag an overhook, or else at least get their hand out of the way so that you can continue sitting up. In the video example, I use the movement to set up a triangle, but the concept works just as well for routine closed-guard posture breaks.

Breaking the Grip

Grip fighting can also be an integral part of the battle to break posture. Here's a way to deal with a strong grip, plus enter into a completely different posture break (back take scenario). Start with a cross-sleeve grip on your partner. As they dig in on a solid lapel grip, snake one arm underneath the other, creating a figure four grip. This will facilitate and easy grip break, and you can go right into the arm drag, leading to a back take/armbar/sweep scenario that's very tough to stop.

How do you like to control posture once it's broken down?

See results

Easy and Simple

Keep in mind, when practicing these posture breaks, that while they might look incredibly simple, they're not necessarily going to be easy to get. Simple does not equal easy in this case; your partner is likely to adapt and adjust to whatever you're working through, especially from a common position like closed guard. Figure out which option works best for you through trial and error, and keep the others on the back burner for a later time! As always, please let me know how these techniques are working for you.

© 2018 Andrew Smith


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • revolutionbjj profile imageAUTHOR

      Andrew Smith 

      2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Glecerio!

    • Glecerio Tatoy profile image


      2 years ago

      Like the elbow flare. Excellent for beginner in martial arts. Thanks for sharing, Andrew Smith!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)