The Closed Guard "Xande" Sweep - a BJJ Tutorial


The story of the sweep

Back in 2004, I was visiting Ricardo De La Riva's academy in Copacabana, and I was introduced to a sneaky closed guard sweep that involved not opening your guard until you were sure you had the sweep, and grabbing the pants leg. I was a purple belt who had traveled around the country to compete, and I'd been around to train with some higher level instructors, but I'd never seen this sweep. A few days later, at the 2004 Mundial, I saw Xande Ribiero sweep Marcelo Garcia with this exact same move. Ever since then, I've called this the "Xande sweep", although it has other names. Whatever you decide to call it, please don't call it the "flower sweep", because there are no flowers in jiu jitsu. Regardless, this high percentage sweep can work for you with virtually no risk. Let's look at the basic mechanics, and some slick follow up options.

Grips, and the basics

Start from closed guard, with your partner down on both knees. Grab their left (same side) sleeve with your left hand, using a standard "J" hook. Keep your elbow in the entire time so your partner can't post. Next, grab Just below their knee with your right hand, grabbing the fabric of the pants. If the material is too tight (either because your partner is a fan of skinny jeans, or because the material tends to get tighter when they're kneeling), just rock your partner to your left to bring their weight off of their left knee. Once you've established your grips, step on the mat with your left foot, but be sure to keep your left knee in tight. Now your partner's upper and lower body bases are compromised. Next, take your right leg up your partner's back, aiming to drive your knee into their armpit, off balancing them forward like a basic armbar from guard. Once their weight comes forward, kick straight forward and to the side to finish the sweep. Follow to the mount.

Dynamic version

If your partner's static, this sweep might be tough to hit (although, I'll be honest, I've hit this sweep numerous times when my partner is just sort of sitting there, with no setup and no motion at all). A second option is the dynamic version shown here. You can wait for your partner to start moving to get the "knee in the butt" guard opening. As your partner's weight shifts to your right, it is about to shift back to your left. Just wait for the weight to begin this shift back while having your grips in place the entire time. Once your partner's weight is coming back to your left, just at the beginning of the motion back, go for the sweep. Your efforts will be amplified dramatically.

Belly down armbar option

Although your partner will be unable to post with their right hand, assuming you're holding their sleeve properly and effectively, they might still be able to post with their free left hand, reaching across to stop the sweep. One option you can go to from here is the belly down armbar. Just swim over with your arm to hook their arm (which is essentially doing a push-up right now), and then swing your right foot behind their head, allowing you to pivot and get into the finish position. Just keep your knees pinched in tight while finishing the armlock. For a good review on the mechanics of this position, revisit the advanced half guard Kimura tutorial, which contains a solid description of this technique.

Arm drag position option

Another excellent option if your partner is able to post with their right hand is to switch to the arm drag position. This time, once your partner is basing on their left hand, you will note that their left arm is across their body, and their posture is sufficiently compromised. Release your right hand from the pants, so that you can hug around their back to their far armpit, and release your left hand from the sleeve, so that you can use your left arm for base to come up. Once here, you have a triple attack of sorts: the armbar from guard, the sweep to the right (shown in the video first), and the back take option (later shown in the video). Either way, your partner's posture is compromised, and taking advantage of this is the name of the game. Expand upon the arm drag sequence here.

Closed or open guard?

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Be sneaky

Remember: the element of surprise is one of the tremendous advantages of this sweep. Don't tip your hand to your partner by grabbing their sleeve and yanking it across your body to take their base away, and don't squeeze your knees super tightly when you put your left foot on the floor during the setup. Surprise is your friend, and being relaxed will encourage your partner to relax as well. When the time is right, you can make your attack with as much stealth as possible. Best of all - if you miss, you can just move on to something else, because your guard is only open a fraction of the way, and only for a second. Happy sweeping!

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