The Lapel Encyclopedia by Keenan Cornelius – Full Review

Last updated on 12.04.2021 by

If you’re on the hunt for a BJJ instructional that will help you improve your guard game, your search is now over. No other instructional out there has more potential to help you in such a quest than the “Lapel Encyclopedia”. This 10-part instructional, which is the work of Keenan Cornelius, is a real well of world-class information that’s suitable for grapplers of all levels. 

Keenan Cornelius is one of the most exciting grapplers in modern Jiu Jitsu. He has a very unusual and unorthodox style which is mostly due to the innovative things he enjoys introducing to his game. He is particularly crafty and creative in the lapel based open guards department. His “Lapel Encyclopedia” is years ahead of any other guard instructional you might come across.

Things to consider when buying a BJJ instructional

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructionals are one of the most popular learning tools of today when it comes to learning BJJ. While we definitely appreciate the incredible amount of information that is now available, getting the most out of a Jiu Jitsu instructional is not something you should take for granted.

The simple fact that there is a huge amount of instructionals available, means that quality will vary. This refers to both the quality of the production, the organization of the material and, of course, the ability of the person demonstrating to teach via video. Furthermore, the price, length of the material and speed of shipping are also important features to consider.

Keenan’s “Lapel Encyclopedia” checks all of these boxes, and then some. In fact, if you’re contemplating buying your first ever BJJ instructional, this Keenan Cornelius DVD is the perfect one to start with. It will set your bar of expectations from Jiu Jitsu instructionals pretty high though.

The Lapel Encyclopedia cover | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

What you get in the “Lapel Encyclopedia”

Keenan Cornelius is a very well-rounded grappler. This is probably why his style is so unique and entertaining. As such, though, it is very difficult to emulate just from watching Keenan compete. Luckily, Keenan is keen on sharing his knowledge in more ways than just regular classes at his academy.

Keenan Online” is one of the best resources for BJJ material of incredible quality. The site offers dozens of courses, carefully crafted to each belt level accordingly.  There are more than 300 videos in the library, and the number keeps going up on a weekly basis. Footage if Keenan rolling, match breakdowns and all of his complete BJJ DVDs are also available through the site.

The “Lapel Encyclopedia” is definitely the centerpiece of all of Keenan’s instructionals. The instructional features 10 parts, with a total running time of over 10 hours. The material is perfectly organized, following a clear and precise progression throughout each part.

Apart from some Keenan systems that you’ve probably heard of, like the worm guard and reverse de la worm guard, there are also brand new lapel guard in there. What you’ll find inside is information on the ringworm guard, squid guard, gubber guard and other never before seen concepts.

Introduction and concepts

The “Lapel Encyclopedia” is not one of those instructionals that’ll start deep in a position and go over a whole bunch of techniques. Instead, Keenan takes things easy, talking about his concepts and explaining his lapel guard game in-depth like only he can. It is an approach that results in you understanding what Keenan’s game is all about. That is not something most people in his position usually volunteer to share, which makes this instructional that much more special.

The first part of the instructional runs at just under an hour and involves a lot of talking and theoretical explanations. Keenan also covers grip placement and crucial information on his intricate gripping system. Near the end, Cornelius goes over most of the guard variations he demonstrates later while explaining what the fundamental idea behind each of them is.

Practicing Jiu Jitsu | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

Playing guard, off-balances, entries

Part two pick up where the first one ended, with another hour of Keenan Cornelius lapel guard brilliance. In this part, Keenan goes into attack mode, demonstrating the basic principles of playing guard. The opening chapters include Keenan’s take on staying safe in each of his guard variations and getting the most desirable grips.

Coming up next is one of the most important aspects of attacking from the guard in BJJ: off-balancing. Simply put, Keenan always looks to get opponents off balance before attempting to execute any of his sweeps or submissions. The entire workings of this system are explained in incredible detail in this portion of the “Lapel Encyclopedia”.

Wrapping up the second portion is 20 minutes of entries from common guards into Keenan’s signature lapel guard variations. They might not make a lot of sense the first time you see thee entries, but after watching the rest of the instructional, everything will fall into place.

Recovering guard if things go wrong

The holy trinity of the guard game, according to Keenan’s system is basic positioning, attacking play, and having backup options that help you recover guard immediately. Guard recovery is extremely important anyway, but Keenan takes it to a whole different level in the “Lapel Encyclopedia”.

In 50 minutes, Keenan manages to explain how to approach guard recovery when things don’t go as planned. Once again, his system is different than most others, given the heavy use of lapels in his guards. However, there’s no denying that this type of guard recovery play is one that will only become increasingly popular in the future. Learning it now is a great advantage for anyone.

Worm guard

Finally, in the fourth part off his “Lapel Encyclopedia”, Keenan arrives at what is his most famous guard – the worm guard. A word of advice, skipping the previous parts of instructional to get to this one is definitely not recommended. The structure of this instructional is what makes it different than others, and following it is the best way to really understand what Keenan is teaching.

The worm guard section runs at over an hour and contains information only the founder of the position can provide. The worm guard is not easy when you first give it a try. However, after going through this part of Keenan’s instructional, it certainly seems easier and way more logical.

The options that Keenan presents here start with basic positioning directions and a few more guard entry options. All of the attacking principles make an appearance again, with off-balancing the key to all the sweeps and transitions Keenan demonstrates. A chapter that is particularly useful is one near the end, of dealing with spazzy guys that like acrobatic moves.

Ringworm guard

This Keenan Cornelius guard variation is just as nasty as the name suggests. In other words, it is taking the worm guard to a whole different level of annoyance for your opponent.  The main difference between it and the worm guard is that you pass the lapel around the leg. This provides plenty of attacking opportunities.

Running at an hour and ten minutes, this part goes over all the details of a brand new worm guard variation. This is one that has the potential to catch everyone by surprise and get them stuck deep in your guard.

Like the previous part of the “Lapel Encyclopedia”, this one starts with basics, closely followed by a few sweeping options. There are also interesting chapters on pass prevention using the ringworm guard, as well as a few submissions. One to keep an eye out for is the penultimate chapter on the “polish worm rider”.

Keenan Cornelius displays his game | Jiu Jitsu Legacy

Reverse de la worm guard

Somewhat shorter than the previous parts of the “Lapel Encyclopedia” at just over 30 minutes, the instructional offers one of the best lapel guard variations Kennan has come up with. It is essentially a hybrid of a more conventional open guard in the reverse De la Riva and the worm guard.

As Keenan states, he prefers this worm guard variation to all others and relies on it the most. According to him, it is the most versatile position. Keenan likes to use two main entries in the reverse de la worm that Cornelius likes to use.  he also shares a few submissions and transitions as well as the wormnado sweep that’s a real highlight of this volume.

Squid guard

Another very uniquely named lapel guard by Keenan Cornelius is the Squid guard. It is a guard that works on the opposite side of the worm guard. Keenan’s approach is to have different guards on your left and right side. I that sense, the squid guard is what he does on the opposite side of the worm guard variations.

There are 6 chapters in this part of the instructional that has a run time of about 35 minutes. Sweeps work by way of takedowns, featuring things like ankle picks and the double leg. There are also some details on inverting before Keenan wraps it up with a very sneaky omoplata setup.

Gubber guard

Once again, the naming is just as good as the guard variation. Keenan only needs about 45 minutes to teach you everything about this unique position. This one though is a position Keenan developed in association with Jamil Hill. It is a hugely important part of the lapel guard system because it works against people that go on both knees to counter.

The gubber guard is essentially a closed guard variation that is very similar to the rubber guard. IT doesn’t require any flexibility though, as there’s a lapel throw in the mix to make everything easier for the guard player. Every little detail on this unique position is in this part of the “Lapel Encyclopedia”, spread over 8 chapters.


The final part of the original “Lapel Encyclopedia” is all about submissions. While Keenan did cover several options earlier on in every part, this is where he really focuses on finishing from all lapel guard variations.

All it takes is less than half an hour for Keenan to demonstrate his favorite ways of getting a whole host of different submissions. Apart from “classics” like the Omoplata, triangle, and armbar, there are some unorthodox and even some brand new moves in this part. Examples include the wormhat choke, the goop choke, and a Baratoplata, to name a few.

Bonus Material

The bonus material in the “Lapel Encyclopedia” is almost as big as the encyclopedia itself the reason is that Keenan keeps adding things to the bonus sections as he develops them.

So far, the chapters include the lapel lasso and belt guards as brand new positions. There are also modifications to the single leg X guard that can come in really handy. Something that most people are bound to enjoy si Keenan’s system on passing all worm guards, and includes using the lapels yet again.

The final and very unusual part of the bonus section covers lapel wrestling. As you may guess, this is yet another of Keenan’s inventions that work based on trapping opponents with lapels.

Technical Notes 

All in all, the “Lapel Encyclopedia” is a great instructional however you look at it. The camera work is pristine, and you can hear what Keenan is saying from all possible positions. He keeps things very casual, talking just enough, and throwing in the odd joke or two. Not cutting out natural situations, like Keenan getting a toe cramp makes the instructional that much more fun to watch.

One thing I might mention that as a bit unnerving for me was the pure white background. Apart from Keenan in a black gi, and his partner in a blue one, both the walls and mats are completely white. I found this mildly tiring after watching the instructional for longer periods of time.

Finally, expect a lot of terma and names you’ve never head before. Keenan does a great job of explaining them, but there’s an entire vocabulary of new moves in there that will certainly take time to master.

Peoples experiences with the “Lapel Encyclopedia”

Keenans’ prowess as a world-class competitor and teacher is beyond doubt. Even the great John Danaher considers that ” Mr. Cornelius is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking athletes in Gi BJJ today. His innovative lapel guard has been tying up and controlling the toughest opponents at the highest levels in a way that is extraordinarily impressive”.

However, what do regular BJJ practitioners think of the “Lapel Encyclopedia”? According to Joe Dirt  “The information is definitely worth the money. I prevented two guard passes from the basic mission control position of lapel and feet on shoulders. Let the drills begin!”

There are plenty of similar testimonials and experiences from people that have used the Encyclopedia that you can easily find online.

A Few “Lapel Encyclopedia” Alternatives

There is no real substitution for the “Lapel Encyclopedia”, given the very original way Keenan organized and presented it. However, if you decide to go deeper into any of the guards he teaches, you can find dedicated DVDs on his site.

For example, he does have a 4 part DVD that covers the worm guard exclusively. It is available through his site, although you can get the same information by scouring through the different sections of Keenan online if you prefer that format.

Given that Keenan is the founder of most of these guards, you won’t find many alternatives to his work when it comes to guards. What you might be able to find are ways people have figured out to pass some of Keenan’s guard variations. Andre Galvao’s “Passing Modern Guards” instructional is one example> However, Keenan’s own platinum worm lapel guard easily beats all other similar DVDs out there.


Learning high-level complex guard systems has never been easier and more accessible. The “Lapel Encyclopedia” allows you to understand how Keenan thinks when he is setting up his incredible guard game. The way Keean teaches makes it easy to use for people of all levels, as everyone will find useful information in there. You just have to be ready to watch a lot of video material! 

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