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Guard playing has evolved over the years. Flexible players are usually the ideal guard players because they can transition towards complicated guards easier using their legs.
But despite the number of complicated open guards available today, the closed guard remained a staple in BJJ competition. Though it is considered a neutral position in grappling, the person inside the closed guard can’t attack without compromising his or her limbs. And because of this, the closed guard remained popular despite not being spectator friendly. The person on top has to open the closed guard if he or she wants to advance the position.
Evolution of the Closed Guard
We’ve seen different people playing the closed guard differently. Eddie Bravo developed the rubber guard which is a type of high guard to keep the opponent’s posture down. This became popular in mixed martial arts because it has lessened the damage received by the person playing guard when the top player decides to throw some punches while inside the closed guard.
The problem with the rubber guard is that it requires flexible hips. And oftentimes, this becomes problematic with older and bigger individuals. On top of that, the rubber guard can’t be universally used by everyone. Though it’s a good aggressive closed guard, it relies on flexibility more than anything.
The Shawn Williams Guard is an alternative to the rubber guard. If you lack the flexibility but you want a closed guard that controls the opponent’s posture, this type of guard can come in handy both in gi and nogi. Shawn Williams is a Renzo Gracie and John Danaher black belt. It was said that the “Williams Guard” was discovered by accident. It is also known as a “shoulder pin guard”.
There are different ways on how you can set up the Williams Guard. However, the end goal is to be able to shifted towards one side with your outside hand hugging underneath the back of your knee and clasping towards your other hand. Also, the leg configuration plays an important role in breaking down the opponent’s posture. The legs should be pinching the shoulder making it difficult for the person to posture up and center back.
How to Setup the William’s Guard From Closed Guard
To set up the William’s Guard, you can start from regular closed guard with your opponent kneeling and postured up.
The first step is to break the opponent’s posture. One of the main ideas in breaking the posture of your opponent is to make use of your legs. You want to pinch your opponent’s hip making it easier to control the person on top to lean towards you and get the necessary configuration for the Williams guard. It is easier to do in NoGi since it requires fewer grips but also something that can be useful even in gi jiu jitsu.
If you are playing in gi, it is a good combination for an overhook series. Once you have the cross sleeve grip, you can easily work your overhook series by weaving the other hand to trap the arm of your opponent. From here, you can work towards shrimping to the overhook side and pinching the opponent’s shoulder using your knee. To complete the setup for the Shawn William’s guard, you will have to transfer the overhooking arm below the knee of your own leg. And lastly, you can clasp from here.
Advantages of Doing Williams Guard
There are a lot of advantages when you use the William’s Guard. First, it works like a rubber guard but you don’t have to rely on your flexibility. Rather, you rely mostly on your grips and your hip’s position. By being scooted out, it becomes easier to work on your opponent’s posture because you can clip the shoulder.
It is also harder to open the closed guard. It becomes easier to contain the opponent especially when you are dealing with an explosive passer. If you are going to compare the rubber guard to the William’s Guard, the rubber guard is easier to open. All that you need to do is to get one knee right on the centerline of the guard player and you have a chance to open the guard.
And instead of your regular closed guard overhook, it becomes harder to lazy arm the trapped leg and re-center when playing top.
Submissions From Shawn William’s Guard
There are a lot of submissions that you can do if you are using the Shawn William’s Guard system of attacks. What makes it feel like a dead-end for the person inside the closed guard is that he or she can’t get back up and have a good posture. And on top of that, one arm is trapped.
One of the main attacks from this position is the omoplata. Since the trapped arm is usually isolated, it becomes easier to go for an omoplata. Also, the trapped arm is vulnerable to a straight armlock. However, if you don’t want to risk too much, you can also work for a triangle.
Why Use The Triangle From the William’s Guard?
The triangle is the most common submission from this type of closed guard. The moment you pinch our knee and break the posture, it’s a natural reaction for the person on top to try to posture back up. But with the knee pinching and the hand putting additional weight on the opponent’s shoulder, it becomes easier to shoot the bottom leg and go for a triangle.
Triangles can also be easier to finish because you don’t have to work so much if you want to control the posture. Since the posture is already broken, it becomes easier to sink the triangle chokes deep.
When to Use the William’s Guard?
If you are looking to use the William’s Guard, it can be a good option not only to sink in submissions but to also control the fight. This is why it can be a good guard even for MMA or for self-defense. This type of guard removes the leverage from the top guy to throw punches and to do anything that would seriously hurt you.
This type of guard can even win matches in BJJ tournaments. This type of control can make the person on top look inactive. And also, it becomes easier to get your attacks together because it only requires small movements.