spider guard

The Ultimate Guide To Mastering The Spider Guard In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a dynamic martial art, boasting a myriad of techniques and positions. Among these, the Spider Guard stands out as a unique and effective position, offering practitioners both defensive and offensive advantages. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the Spider Guard, its origins, techniques, and tips to elevate your game.

Origins and Basics of the Spider Guard

The Spider Guard, known as “Guarda Aranha” in Portuguese, traces its roots back to kosen judo. It was further developed in BJJ during the late 1980s. This guard involves the practitioner gripping both of the opponent’s sleeves while placing each foot on the adversary’s biceps. This configuration provides the guard player with increased mobility and control, making it difficult for the opponent to apply pressure or control the head.

Setting Up the Spider Guard

To initiate the Spider Guard, start by gripping the opponent’s sleeves. Transition from the closed guard, grip the opponent’s sleeves, open the guard, and place the knees in an inside position. By choosing a side, place a foot on the opponent’s bicep, establishing the Spider Guard. The key is to maintain the right angle, ensuring you’re on your side with the bottom leg bent and the top leg extended upwards.

Check out the below breakdown of Spider Guard fundamentals by BJJ Legend Rafael Lovato:

Defensive Strategies and Guard Retention in the Spider Guard

The Spider Guard’s effectiveness isn’t just in its offensive capabilities. Its structure and the control it offers make it a formidable defensive position. Here’s a breakdown of the key defensive strategies and guard retention techniques:

  • Posture Control:
    • The Spider Guard inherently disrupts the opponent’s posture. By maintaining pressure on the biceps and controlling the sleeves, you can prevent the opponent from posturing up and initiating passes.
  • Hip Mobility:
    • One of the guard’s strengths is the mobility it offers. By staying active with your hips and constantly adjusting angles, you can counter the opponent’s attempts to pass or destabilize your guard.
  • Switching Sides:
    • Never stay static. Regularly switch the active foot on the bicep, making it challenging for the opponent to predict your movements or set up a pass.
  • Grip Maintenance:
    • Grips are crucial. Constantly monitor and adjust your sleeve grips to ensure they remain strong. If the opponent breaks a grip, immediately work to re-establish it.
  • Lasso Guard Transition:
    • As an additional layer of defense, you can transition to the Lasso Guard. This involves looping one leg around the opponent’s arm, further restricting their movement and providing additional guard retention options.
  • Feet Placement:
    • Ensure the soles of your feet are firmly pressing against the opponent’s biceps. This not only offers control but also acts as a barrier to prevent guard passing.
  • Guard Recovery:
    • Always have a plan for guard recovery. Techniques like the Granby roll can be invaluable when the opponent starts to pass. By rolling and repositioning, you can quickly revert to the Spider Guard or another guard of choice.

Offensive Techniques from the Spider Guard


The Spider Guard offers a plethora of sweeping options:

  1. Scissor-Type Sweep: Effective against kneeling opponents. By removing the foot from the bicep and placing it on the same side knee, you create a wedge. Using the top leg as a lever, you can easily sweep the opponent.
  2. Sweep against Standing Opponents: With the opponent’s posture already compromised, extend the bottom leg and unhook the top leg from the bicep. Hook the nearest leg and unbalance the opponent for a sweep.


  1. Spider Guard Triangle: A powerful submission that can be set up from the Spider Guard. Use one spider hook to bridge up and shoot behind the opponent’s armpit, pinching their side and driving your heel into their far shoulder. Rotate and lock on a triangle.
  2. Omoplata: A versatile attack that serves as both a sweep and a submission. Set it up when the opponent is standing, extending one leg and guiding the opponent forward. Slide the leg behind the arm to secure the omoplata.
  3. Armbar: Use the stomping setup, pulling the top arm across your chest. Thread your head through the loop to secure the armbar.
Spider guard to omoplata setup (Source: Grapplearts.com)

Drills for Improving Spider Guard

Practicing specific drills can enhance your Spider Guard game:

  1. Belt Drill: Using your belt, attach spider hooks and transition from side to side. This drill improves leg dexterity and muscle memory.
  2. Granby Roll: A shoulder roll technique that aids in guard retention. When the opponent pulls you into a sitting guard, post a hand on the opposite side and stiff-arm their sleeve or collar. Roll over that shoulder to re-guard efficiently.

Spider Guard in No-Gi

While the Spider Guard is predominantly a gi-based position, there’s a no-gi variation. Switch from sleeve grips to an overhand 4-finger grip. Practicing in the gi can help improve reaction times for no-gi scenarios.


The Spider Guard is a testament to the adaptability and depth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Its defensive and offensive capabilities make it a valuable tool for practitioners of all levels. Whether you’re a competitor or a recreational player, mastering the Spider Guard can significantly enhance your BJJ game.


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