Pablo Mantovani’s 3 tips to give you a sharp guard in 2021

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Pablo Mantovani offers advice to up your game. Photo: Personal archive

Pablo Mantovani, 26, became a guard specialist in the course of his jiu-jitsu education. With almost 17 years’ experience, he has accumulated titles from the IBJJF Worlds, ADCC trials and many IBJJF opens.

Today, Pablo, who represents Atos and teaches in Abu Dhabi, presents three concepts to help you get a dangerous guard in 2021. First off, he warns:

“It’s important for you to study, but don’t forget to practice. Having a good guard is a consequence of intelligent training. Always choose to train often with your gym’s strongest passer, don’t get sad if get your guard passed in training, and remember: it’s better to make a mistake during training than in a competition.”

1. Make grips

Because I’m a versatile athlete, due to having an easy time fighting on top and on the bottom, I know the main paths a passer uses when trying to get past the guard player’s legs to reach the side. When you pull guard, never, under any circumstances, refrain from making grips, whether on the sleeve or the collar. You need to have control to keep the distance or bring your opponent closer. Having a good grip will save you in 50% of all situations. A passer’s paradise is when they see that the guard player is playing guard without grips.

2. Protect your pants

When my opponent pulls with me, I analyze, in a first moment, whether he’s going to come up or stay together on the guard with me. With that done, I focus on his arms so that he doesn’t make grips on my pants, which prevents me from moving my legs. In order for your takedown to always be dangerous, prevent your opponent from making grips on your pants. The secret is to control your opponent’s arms, which puts you ahead of them the whole time.

3. Take the initiative

When I seek to play guard, I already have my first action in mind. When I pull guard, I already want to play the closed guard to launch my attacks, but when my opponent blocks, I’ll wrap him in the lapel or place him in the spider guard, to develop my strategy during the match. When the guard player accepts someone else’s game, which is when you take too long to act, you’re telling your opponent that they are in command. The guard game commands the fight. Remember that.

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