Z guard, X Guard, K Guard. One-letter guard names seem to be all the jazz lately in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Trendy or not, all of the above guards work perfectly in gi and no-gi BJJ, but if I had to pick one of them to use when attacking, I’d pick the K Guard BJJ position in a heartbeat. Why? Read on to find out.
What is the K Guard BJJ Position?
The K Guard is a Jiu Jitsu open guard position in which you are lying sideways, having two knee shield positions, one vertical and the other horizontal, while gripping an over-under grip behind one of the opponent’s knees.
The K Guard BJJ position is powerful because the legs create a double reinforced wall through the positioning. For the top person to remove the top leg block, they need to g forward, which is impossible due to the bottom leg.
Removing the bottom leg block requires the opponent to create space, which the top leg denies by hooking behind the armpit.
This provides a very difficult puzzle for your opponent to solve, leaving you free to use your hand and establish grips that will allow for sweep and submission double trouble threats.
This places you in a position to start working on blending plenty of different sweep and submission attacks together so that you can easily deal with opponents of all sizes and belt levels.
Why the K Guard Works?
The K guard BJJ position works so well because it adheres to all basic principles of open guards, while at the same time being extremely easy to get into and hold for a prolonged period of time.
The first and crucial goal for any guard position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is to keep the person from passing your legs. Until such a task is accomplished, anything you do in terms of attacking is going to probably be unsuccessful or cost you a great deal of effort and energy.
When in open guard, each of your legs plays a crucial role. One leg is the passive leg or “hook leg”, which has the aim of keeping you in constant connection (engagement) with an opponent, and preventing them from getting to the space in between your hips and armpits.
In the K Guard, this is the leg with the knee on the ground (the bottom leg). It acts as a shield that the opponent cannot strip without significantly endangering their position.
The role of the passive leg is to ensure the opponent can’t waltz past your legs, opening up space for the other, or active (dangling) leg to work. This leg is the one that actively off-balances an opponent, creates openings for submission, or transitions into other guards.
In the K Guard BJJ position, this is the top leg.
The K Guard has your torso and hips positioned to the side rather than both shoulder blades on the mats, which is another big reason for its success.
Finally, gripping from the bottom has to be with a purpose. Simply put, any mindless reaching to grab something just for the sake of it is pointless.
Holding grips like the starting K guard palm to palm grip around the opponent’s knee, with the elbows close to your ribs, is a great example of purposeful grips and another reason why the guard is so effective.
How to Get to the K Guard?
The K Guard BJJ position is most useful when our opponent is kneeling. As a guard, this open guard variation is somewhere in the middle between close and medium range guards.
The key thing to remember about setting the K guard up is that the legs go first into position, followed by the arms.
Getting to the guard is very easy as a means of guard retention if you’re playing almost all other guards. If you were in closed, half, butterfly, De la Riva, grilled chicken, or any other type of guard, all you need to do is turn to your side so that the bottom leg can go knee on the mats and the foot on the opponent’s ribcage.
This puts the top leg in position, with the shin across the chest and a hook underneath the opposite side armpit.
Wherever somebody is pressure passing your guard, you can switch to the K guard to prevent them and open up easy and direct attacking opportunities for yourself.
Last but not least, the K Guard BJJ position is available after trying to do an Imanari or Jackie Chan roll into Ashi Garami positions.
Attacking From the K Guard
Going on the offense from the K guard BJJ position is easy because you already have basic attacking principles covered by simply getting into the K guard configuration.
The reasons why sweeps are successful are because you can isolate a limb in order to stop someone from posting, disrupt their balance and turn your body 180 degrees relative to the ground. You already have a post from the K guard and can easily threaten balance.
For submissions from guards, you need to have the opponent’s head low, preferably under their butt for chokes, isolate their elbows away from their ribcage, and/or control the knee line with access to the hip for a leg lock.
Once again, the K guard BJJ position offers everything immediately.
K Guard BJJ Sweeps
When sweeping from K guard, you already have access to a post via the grips you have on the opponent’s leg. This gives you control over the post in terms of preventing it from being extended in a specific direction and in terms of manipulating it to further disrupt an opponent’s balance.
To get the opponent off balance, all you need to do is lie down on your back, both shoulder blades touching the ground. This position the opponent over you, with no real base to speak off.
From there, the easiest way to sweep is to transfer the leg you have a grip around across your body, and re-establish a grip, this time like for an ankle lock. This will free up one of your arms so that you can post with it and get up via a technical stand-up, taking the opponent with you and ending up with them sitting on he ground.
K Guard Submissions
Leg locks are the easiest submissions to go for from the K Guard BJJ position, but that doesn’t mean they are the only finishing option.
From the basic K Guard, all you need is to transfer your top leg around the leg you are already holding with your grips, and you have immediate toe hold options if the leg stays bent or a kneebar if the opponent straightens it.
Where there is a kneebar, there is also a direct and easy honey hole transition, so you are more than set in leg locks, and this is before I mention Imanari rolls that open up as opponents try to stand up on their feet.
For upper body submissions, you could go for a triangle choke or Kimura. All it takes is transferring the top leg, a.k.a. the active leg over the opponent’s far shoulder, and isolating an arm, and you have the triangle all wrapped up and ready to go.
You also have a Kimura available on both sides, but much easier to get on the side where you have the leg. As long as you focus on getting the appropriate grips on the arm on that side, you’ll get a very easy Kimura finish.
Out of all the open guards, I have to single out the K Guard BJJ position as the one that beats all others when it comes to attacks. The position itself is set to help you prevent passes by doing nothing, which is very rare in open guards. Moreover, it provides you with access points for launching sweeps and submissions by manipulating either the upper or lower body of an opponent, all from the same place.
The cherry on top is that you can play the K Guard in gi and no-gi Jiu Jitsu and be as creative as you want with your grips and attacks, as long as you adhere to just a few very simple open guard principles.
Ogi is a black belt that does Jiu Jitsu full time and is very passionate about anything grappling-related.
He is also the head coach of Enso Jiu Jitsu in Macedonia and an aspiring Globetrotter.