I saw a video put out by Stephan Kesting this morning about how to deal with a guy who grinds his elbows in your thighs to break your closed guard. I’ll post the video below.
Okay, first off, if you’ve trained at any number of schools, you’ve probably come across the elbow grinder. To break guard, these guys usually go to the first line in their playbook – the pointy elbow in your fleshy legs. It’s a real pain, literally. The elbow grind is usually the first line in their playbook for a reason. Because it works. Generally, the guy who does this is fairly muscular and the guy who it’s against is most likely smaller. Simply put, the elbow grinder continues to use this tactic because they’ve had success with it in the past.
How to Stop the Elbow Grind vs Thighs in Closed Guard
I think Stephan is correct in saying this is a technique successful in training, but I’m not sure about its success during competition. I’ve never seen it in competition, so I can’t comment on that. The thing is though, like I said above, when this guard break is used, it’s usually on a mismatched partnership. The bigger guy is simply muscling his way through. For the smaller guy on bottom to simply reach up and pull the other guy’s arms away from the legs isn’t that easy. I’ve been in this situation, I know first hand. The guy who’s breaking guard is like an iron man. When they decide to use a technique, it’s very difficult to stop them.
I like the suggestions Stephan gave, but I think there are a few more that may be more realistic. If I’m a lot smaller than the guy on top, I wouldn’t put him in my guard at all. I’d try, with all my might, to take back. I also wouldn’t try a butterfly sweep or an arm drag. The reason I say this is because I’m just thinking back to my experience with larger, heavier guys and honestly, none of these fancy techniques have ever worked. I couldn’t imagine trying to butterfly sweep someone who is 40 pound heavier than me. Arm drag? Perhaps, but I would have to transition very quickly to back.
Questions? Opinions? I’d love to hear them.