Mastering the X Guard: A Complete Guide

Introduction: The X guard is a highly effective and versatile guard used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Originally popularized by the legendary Marcelo Garcia, the X guard has become a go-to position for many elite practitioners. This guard offers unparalleled control, sweeping capabilities, and serves as a gateway to lower body attacks. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the principles, techniques, and advantages of the X guard, highlighting its significance in modern BJJ and its potential for success in both sport and self-defense scenarios.

Understanding the Principles of X Guard

  1. A Gateway to Lower Body Attacks:
    • The X guard serves as an entry point for engaging in lower body attacks, such as leg locks (knee bars, toe holds, ankle locks, and heel hooks).
    • By placing yourself underneath your opponent, the X guard offers unique angles and opportunities to initiate leg entanglements effectively.
  2. Unparalleled Control:
    • The X guard grants exceptional control over your opponent, disrupting their passing attempts and compromising their balance.
    • Traditional passes often prove ineffective against the X guard, disorienting opponents and creating advantageous openings for sweeps.
  3. Utilized by Elite Competitors:
    • Renowned black belt world champions, including Marcelo Garcia, Leandro Lo, and Buchecha, have achieved remarkable success employing the X guard.
    • The guard’s effectiveness at the highest levels of competition reinforces its value as a strategic position in BJJ.

Mastering X Guard for Control

  1. Off-Balancing and Movement:
    • Once you secure the X guard, it is essential to maintain constant movement and prevent your opponent from establishing a passing rhythm.
    • Teeter-tottering your opponent back and forth disrupts their balance and forces them into a defensive posture.
  2. Hooks and Knee Position:
    • Contrary to common belief, the X guard benefits from widening your knees and pulling the hooks in different directions, rather than tightening them.
    • Positioning your opponent’s leg on your shoulder (not your bicep) and controlling their knee enhance your control and offensive options.
  3. Speed and Immediate Attack:
    • React swiftly upon entering the X guard; capitalize on the element of surprise by immediately initiating attacks or sweeps.
    • Developing speed in transitioning from the guard to submissions can catch opponents off guard and increase your chances of success.
Source: Chew Jitsu Youtube channel

Sweeping with X Guard

  1. The Power of the Unorthodox:
    • The X guard’s unorthodox and unpredictable nature alone can nullify many of your opponent’s passing attempts.
    • Seize the advantage by swiftly capitalizing on the X guard’s disruptive effect, keeping in mind that getting into the position is halfway to completing a sweep.
  2. Sit-Up Sweep:
    • A highly effective sweep from the X guard, the sit-up sweep involves extending your legs while rising to your elbow.
    • Progress to your hand, remove the top hook, perform a technical stand-up, and maintain control of your opponent’s other leg against your shoulder.
  3. X Guard Trip:
    • The X guard trip provides another potent sweeping option. Drop your bottom hook to your opponent’s ankle and pull your hooks apart, destabilizing them.
    • Take advantage of their compromised position to execute the sweep and gain the upper hand.
X Guard trip sweep

Guard for Lower Body Attacks

  1. The Rise of Lower Body Attacks:
    • With the emergence of sub-only tournaments and a renewed focus on lower body attacks, the X guard has gained significant prominence.
    • The guard’s ability to position yourself underneath your opponent presents ample opportunities for leg locks, including knee bars, toe holds, ankle locks, and heel hooks.
  2. Synergy with Single Leg X Guard and Ashi Garami:
    • The X guard synergizes well with the single leg X guard (ashi garami), forming a solid foundation for successful lower body attacks.
    • Single leg X guard serves as a crucial guard to master when seeking proficiency in leg locks, and transitioning to it from the X guard offers seamless opportunities.
  3. Protection and Entanglement Opportunities:
    • Engaging the X guard not only facilitates leg attacks but also safeguards your own legs from being targeted by opponents.
    • The “inside position” principle, achievable through playing the X guard, aids in protecting your legs and avoiding potential leg lock threats.


The X guard represents a dynamic and powerful guard in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, offering exceptional control, sweeping capabilities, and a pathway to successful lower body attacks. By understanding the principles, mastering the techniques, and capitalizing on its unorthodox nature, practitioners can leverage the X guard to gain a competitive edge. Whether in sport or self-defense scenarios, incorporating the X guard into your arsenal will undoubtedly elevate your BJJ skills and open up a world of strategic possibilities.


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