Guards are essential positions in BJJ. BJJ’s focus on guards is also the main differentiator from other grappling arts.
Here is an exhaustive list of all BJJ guards. If you want to become good at BJJ, you’ll need to get good at all these guards (at least to some degree).
What is a guard in BJJ?
Before we can give an exhaustive list of all guards in BJJ, we need to define what a guard is. We’ll use the following definition:
Definition: A guard is any position in which you use your legs to manage the distance between you and your opponent.
For example, you could be using your feet on your opponent’s biceps to manage the distance, and we call that spider guard. But you could also be using your inner thighs to clamp down on someone’s ankle to prevent him from knee sliding you; we still count that as a form of half guard (albeit a very disadvantageous one).
Some notable exceptions to this definition are various leg entanglements. For example, in 50/50 you are technically using your legs to manage the distance between you and your opponent, but we don’t typically call that ’50/50 guard’. (I think this is because in leg entanglements your opponent is also managing the distance with his legs, which doesn’t concord with the more traditional picture of your guard being your defense against an advancing opponent.)
Of course, no definition is ever perfect, but we’ll use this one as a working definition to make up our list of all guards in BJJ.
All BJJ Guards: an exhaustive list
Here is a list of all (major) guards in BJJ:
- Double sleeve guard
- Collar Sleeve guard
- De la Riva guard
- Reverse de la Riva guard
- X guard
- Single leg X guard
- Shin to shin guard
- Worm guard (and Mantis guard, Reverse de la worm guard)
- Closed guard
- Butterfly guard
- Half guard
- Reverse half guard
- Deep half guard
- Quarter guard (a.k.a. 3 quarter mount)
- Quarter guard 2 (a.k.a. deep knee slide bottom)