Someone asked me about doing spider guard. I do a lot of spider guard. I get in trouble for the amount of spider guard I do (true story, I got a stern talking-to about it the other day, and was informed that a whole asston of push-ups were in my future if I didn’t branch out). Professor Galvao told me I need to do other things, but I’m in love, what can I do? Listen to my professor, of course, and combine spider guard with x-guard and y-guard and the waiter sweep and all that fun stuff. But those aren’t the things I want to talk about today. Today I want to tell you guys about spider guard.
Everyone thinks that the important thing about spider guard is the length of your limbs. This is BS. I’m 5’2″ and stubby. Nothing about me can be described as “long.” The important thing for spider guard is your hip flexibility and the movement of your hips on the mat. Being long-legged and flat is just as ineffective as being short-legged. Everyone can do spider guard effectively.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about grips. Pistol grips are stupid. They waste your energy and they rotate your shoulder funny. No pistol grips for spider guard (although if I had my way it’d be no pistol grips for anything because seriously, fuck pistol grips) hook grips only. Sleeves on gis are designed especially for grips like this; once I have a grip on the sleeves, I can control the person with very little effort on my part. I have very small hands, even for someone my size, and I have to work really hard on my grip strength to get it to be passable, but it’s damn near impossible for most people to break my hook grips. Moral of the story: hook grips for spider guard, or you’re lame.
If you can’t keep spider guard it’s because you are doing something stupid with the tension in your grips. When I do spider guard, I want my hips turned to one side, with my opponent bent in half over me. Ideally, one of their elbows should be above their head. If you can’t get that elbow above their head, you need to switch to a different guard because you’re about to get passed. Practice this all the time. Learn how to immediately snap someone’s elbow into that overhead position. It’s essential to making the spider guard work.
Additionally, you shouldn’t be flat on your back in spider guard. Turning onto a hip and stretching a leg will keep the tension. Pull your elbow in to your ribs and stretch a leg straight to keep control.
Sweep… Submit… Sweep…
The quintessential thing to do from spider guard is a triangle. If you have been following my blog at all, for any length of time, you know my ability to triangle anything that’s awake and sentient is piss-poor. I also don’t use the omoplata nearly as much as I should from this position, mainly because I don’t use the lasso (more on this later). Instead, I like to use the spider guard for two things: first, to reset the fight to my pace, and second, to bait the person into a position where I can sweep them.
Lately, in gi, I’ve been using the half-spider/inverse de la Riva position to do a lot of sweeps. This isn’t important; the important thing about spider guard is that you can use it to bait your opponent into any other position you want. It’s just a matter of the right leverage. If I wanted to play traditional de la Riva, it’s easy to stretch and reach from open spider guard. If I want to play x-guard, it’s easy to make the guy step. Deep half? It’s just a hip-switch with tension on the arm.
To Lasso or Not Lasso?
I don’t use the lasso (or the overhook or whatever you want to call it)– the one where you wrap your leg around the guy’s arm. There are a few reasons for this, and please don’t take my word as gospel here, because the lasso is a very powerful position for people who can rock it. Here are the reasons I don’t use it often:
- My grip, as I stated before, is comparatively weak. When someone manages to break my grip and I’ve lassoed their arm, they are in the perfect setup for a really quick, strong ankle lock.
- I like to transition very quickly from spider guard to kiss of the dragon/knee-bars. If my leg is all tangled up, it’s really difficult to make that fast transition.
- If I’m going to be underneath the guy, I want to be able to control the distance really carefully. The lasso doesn’t offer me the fine-tuned level of control I can get by switching to deep half or my x-guard variation.
- I like the inverse DLR better than the lasso guard, and I’m much better at it.
So there you have it. Questions about spider guard? Hit me up, I’d love to hear them.