Over at Bloody Elbow, I conducted an open panel among coaches of varying grappling backgrounds that included Catch Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), Combat Sambo and the Hayastan grappling hybrid system (Judo / Sambo / Catch Wrestling) to get their thoughts on the role of ‘The Guard’ in MMA (click for external page).
A quote from Catch Wrestling Coach and ISWA President Kris Iatskevich:
The way we work the guard with our fighters is in the optic that guard is something that may happen during a fight,not something we go to.
For example: The guy shot a blast double on me and we wind up in a ”guard” situation. As wrestlers we are drilled to belly out after or during a takedown,so guard doesn’t happen very often during our fighters’ bouts,but when it does we teach them to automatically go for reversals or stand ups.
Our go to position on bottom is the all fours (turtle / defensive position), from there we automatically go for stand ups, reversals, switches et cetera, and try to bring the fight back within our world, I.E. takedowns and aggressive top dominant positions.
In Catch Wrestling competition (Pins and Submissions) you don’t want to spend too long on your back in case you’re caught in a match ending pin fall, and this is doubly true in Folkstyle Wrestling and Freestyle Wrestling competition where back points can be scored against you, or the 1 count ends your night. Catch Wrestling offers a bit more leeway when you have 3 counts to work with and possibly a best 2 out of 3 falls in one match, and some wrestlers may be able to work from their side while keeping a shoulder off the mat, but this takes a lot of practice.
Common strategy is to belly down and work for a stand up or reversal, though in both Catch Wrestling and MMA the risk of submission should be considered when doing so. Ideally then, if a wrestler can utilise an underhook or a whizzering overhook to avoid being pinned as well as work to get to his knees, he’s in a stronger position to turn the match around. You also have to bear in mind any leg wrestling from your back comes at the risk of exposing yourself to footlocks which although staples of Catch As Catch Can wrestling and Sambo, is become the move de jour for a lot of other grappling arts due to their effectiveness.
Sometimes a well timed elevator can help sweep an opponent while hiding your feet from submission threats at the same time, so there’s another option.
After the jump, video of Mark Hatmaker showing a whizzer escape from your back that leads to a nice quarter nelson turnover, an elevator sweep from freestyle wrestling (WARNING: Sound is bad, hit mute asap!), and a video of Billy Robinson showing how to work a stand up from your knees in the defensive referee’s position.