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Scissor Guard Triangle Set Ups: A BJJ Tutorial

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

Effectively using the scissor guard.

Effectively using the scissor guard.

The Usefulness of Scissor Guard

Scissor guard is an extremely useful type of guard and likely among the first types of guard you begin to use as you take your first tentative steps into open guard territory. Not only can you sweep or submit your partner, but you also maintain distance very effectively.

Most folks are familiar with the scissor sweep and the cross choke from here, but adding in the triangle choke can add a new attack dimension to your game. For some alternative finishes from the triangle choke position, check out the related tutorial.

Basic Scissor Guard Triangle Set Up

Distance and angle are frequently cited as among two of the most important concepts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (if you asked a dozen black belts, ten might mention these two things). In this technique, you control both of them extremely effectively. Trey starts with his right hand in the collar, left hand controlling the sleeve, and immediately hips out to his right, creating space for his right knee to slide through, just as though he's going to perform a traditional scissor sweep. From here, he swims his right knee over his partner's hand, pinning the wrist to his chest with his knee, and then simultaneously does three things:

  1. Kicks the right leg up and over the arm and across the neck
  2. Pulls the arm across the body, thus tightening the impending triangle
  3. Controls the posture by keeping the hand in the collar
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From here, it's easy for Trey to pivot and create the ideal angle for finishing the triangle. As a bonus, try leaving your hand in the collar as you bite down on the triangle. If your partner counters with a hand in your collar, here's some helpful triangle maintenance.


Sneaky Opposite Side Scissor Triangle

Here's a really sneaky variation on the first technique. Trey starts with his right hand in the collar, left hand controlling the sleeve, just like the traditional "scissor sweep" or the original scissor guard triangle setup. In this technique, however, he keeps his knee under the arm (as opposed to crashing down on top as before). Trey then stuffs the sleeve into his partner's stomach, thus pinning their wrist inward, and "jumps" for the triangle. If your partner is used to the more familiar scissor guard triangle set up, this will likely catch them off guard.

Scissor Half Guard Triangle

In addition to "scissor guard," "full scissor guard," or "the scissor sweep position," scissor half guard offers at least one extremely effective triangle setup. You might remember this technique from the overhook triangles tutorial. In this technique, I begin with my left shin across my partner's hip or thigh, maintaining space just like with scissor guard (but with a half guard "inside hook"). I'm looking for the overhook with my left arm, and one way to get this is simply to wait for my partner to shoot for an underhook. You can grap your lapel or their lapel here to secure your grip, or just turn your hand upward. Next, you'll need wrist control on the opposite arm. The general concept now is to either "jump rope" over their arm by retracting your foot, or stuff their wrist to their stomach and then hop over. Either way, this can be a high percentage triangle setup for you to add to your arsenal.

Scissor Me Timbers!

The nice thing about shooting for these triangles (from both scissor guard and scissor half guard) is that, even if you miss, you're still in a fantastic defensive guard, maintaining the distance. It takes a few tries to be able to hit them in real time, but after nailing your first triangle by utilizing that shin frame, you're likely to be hooked, and it gets considerably easier over time. Be sure to visit our other triangle tutorials, including open guard triangle setups, triangle setups from side control, and escaping the triangle, among others, when you have time. Have fun, and let me know how these work for you!

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