The rubber guard is one of the most seemingly complex and effective guards in all of Jiu Jitsu. This guard is what Eddie Bravo built 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu around and we’ve seen countless advancements with the position over the years.
Here is what you need to know about the rubber guard. This is going to be a basic introduction into the rubber guard which will break down all the important details for getting into the guard.
The creation of the rubber guard
Before we get into the important details of the rubber guard, let’s look at how it was developed. 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo began developing the rubber guard in the ‘90s when he was training under Master Jean Jacques Machado.
One of the grapplers that inspired Eddie Bravo to develop the rubber guard was Nino Schembri. Nino was an innovator of the open guard and an expert at the omoplata and gogoplata submissions.
Schembri would use an early form of the rubber guard called the shin guard and Eddie Bravo borrowed elements of the shin guard to create his rubber guard system.
At first, many old school BJJ guys dismissed the rubber guard as ineffective, but time and competition successes would prove the effectiveness of the position. Bravo went on to teach many top level MMA and BJJ athletes his rubber guard system.
Today, there are numerous 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu schools around the world, who’s curriculums revolve around the rubber guard.
How to get into rubber guard
Here is a basic, step-by-step, set up for how you get into rubber guard. These directions follow along with time-stamped video clips. Feel free to watch each section of video and then return to the instructions:
The set up
The rubber guard isn’t a position that your opponent is just going to give you. This is a guard that you’re going to have to set up by baiting your opponent into being where you want them.
“Give up five yards to gain ten yards” as Bravo said on his BJJ Fanatics breakdown.
Give away an underhook
A common entry into the rubber guard starts from a knee shield half guard or z guard. From here, you bait your opponent by taking off your knee shield and offering them an underhook. Most opponents can’t help but take this bait and immediately grab an underhook.
Take an overhook & lockdown
When you give your opponent the underhook, you’re basically trading your kneeshield position for an overhook and lockdown control. Take an overhook on your opponent’s arm and triangle your legs around their leg you’re controlling to do a lockdown.
The Pimp Arm
As soon as you get your lockdown, you need to immediately slide your knee between yourself and your opponent. This is because your opponent already has a good position and will be looking to knee slice pass to side-control.
To prevent that you need to do what Eddie calls the ‘pimp arm,’ a stiff arm to block your opponent’s knee. Use a palm up grip right above their knee.
To get your inside knee out, you need to do what they call in 10th Planet lingo a super stomp. This is where you take off your leg triangle, stomp your outside foot on the ground and slightly scoot out.
Confused by 10th Planet lingo? Check out our article where we provide translations for Eddie’s occasionally far-out terminology.
After scooting out, you take a butterfly hook with your stomp foot and your bottom knee comes out.
Once your opponent realizes that they can’t pass going forward, they will usually try to retreat and go backwards. As they back up, you’re going to take the pimp arm and grab an underhook as you sit up.
You are now in a position that, in 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, they call the cocoon. A powerful underhook/overhook, where you’re sitting up and in a perfect transitional position to go to the rubber guard.
Now that you have your cocoon, you’re ready to go into the basic rubber guard position known as mission control. Throw up your leg behind your opponent’s head on your overhook side and underhook your shin.
From there, bring your leg over your opponent’s head and you’re in mission control. You can now easily set up different submissions and sweeps.
Rubber guard omoplata
One of the easiest submissions to pull off from the rubber guard is an omoplata. Here are the steps for locking in this high percentage submission:
New York position
The first position that you need to get to in the rubber guard is called the New York position. From closed guard, break your opponent’s posture and take a high guard.
Then hold your knee with one hand and underhook your shin with your other hand, bringing it behind their head.
Push the opponent’s head
From the New York position, your opponent’s arm is on the mat and in position for you to get an omoplata. To get there, the first thing you’re going to need to do is push your opponent’s head to the side.
This makes space for you to bring your leg over your opponent’s head.
Regrab your shin
After you push your opponent’s head, you’re going to re-grab your shin and bring it in front of their face.
Swivel your hips
Once you bring your leg in front of your opponent’s face, all you have to do now is swivel your hips. Swivel your hips out and make sure they’re facing the same direction as your opponent’s head.
Grab opponent’s hip & sit up
All you have to do now to go into the omoplata is grab your opponent’s hips and sit up. Keep your weight down on your opponent’s shoulder as you drive into them to finish the omoplata.
How to defend the rubber guard
Getting put in the rubber guard is really annoying if you don’t know how to defend against it. Here are some ways that you can defend against the rubber guard.
Keep good posture
No matter what the rubber guard set up your opponent uses, they need to break your posture to get this guard. If you keep your posture and pass guard from there, you won’t have to worry about rubber guard!
But, inevitably we’ll get caught sleeping and our opponent will break our posture and stuff us into rubber guard. Here’s what to do when that happens:
Your head over the opponent’s head
One way to begin getting out of rubber guard is to get your head over your opponent’s head. Accomplish this by putting your hands on the mat and popping up to your feet.
As you pop up and come forward, your momentum will bring your head over your opponent’s head.
Turn thumbs down to the floor
To start the pass, turn your thumbs down to the floor. This is so your elbows don’t get caught on your opponent’s thighs as you try to back out of the guard.
Now that you have your head over your opponent’s head and thumbs pointing down, you’re ready to escape. All you have to do now is relax your body and limp out of the rubber guard.
The rubber guard and MMA
When Eddie Bravo was devising the rubber guard, he actually developed it specifically for MMA. His thinking was that by using the rubber guard in MMA, you can deliver multiple attacks while defending your opponent’s attacks.
From the rubber guard, you have your opponent’s posture broken, which makes them unable to properly strike you. The rubber guard player, however, is able to deliver strikes from like elbows or easily throw submissions.
Two 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu students that have been highly successful using the rubber guard are Tony Ferguson and Ben Saunders.
Tony Ferguson is one of the most active strikers off his back and loves to deliver elbows from the rubber guard. He also landed a slick triangle from rubber guard against Kevin Lee at UFC 216.
Ben Saunders landed the first omoplata in UFC history using the rubber guard.
Do you need to be flexible to use the rubber guard?
One thing that has kept many from learning rubber guard techniques is the belief that you need to be flexible. While being flexible really helps with many rubber guard techniques, you don’t need to be hyper flexible to use them.
What is more important is getting the details right in the setups when using the rubber guard. I’m not the most flexible person and have bad knees, but I can do a few rubber guard techniques.
One technique I love using is the Carni shoulder lock that goes from z guard to rubber guard. It’s a really simple technique that is easy and doesn’t involve a lot of flexibility.
Wrap up on the rubber guard
The rubber guard has been proven effective and a favorite position for many no-gi grapplers. While some of the moves seem complex and require flexibility, they are actually quite simple to pull it off.
If you’re a guard player looking to further develop your guard game, go try some of the basic rubber guard techniques. Once you get them down, you’ll definitely find some success in using the rubber guard.