Mastering the Mat: Unlocking the Secrets of the Rubber Guard

January 8, 2024
From: Spartacus
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In the dynamic and evolving world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), the Rubber Guard has emerged as a revolutionary technique, reshaping strategies on the mat. This unique guard, characterized by its use of flexibility and control, is not just a position but a statement of innovation in modern grappling.

The brainchild of Eddie Bravo, a trailblazer in BJJ, the Rubber Guard has gained prominence for its effectiveness and unorthodox approach. Bravo, known for his willingness to challenge traditional norms, developed this technique to maximize control over opponents while minimizing their offensive capabilities. His influence has led to a broader acceptance and integration of the Rubber Guard in both BJJ and MMA, making it a staple in the arsenal of many fighters.

This article aims to dive deep into the world of the Rubber Guard. We’ll explore its mechanics, the strategic advantages it offers, and the necessary training and flexibility to execute it effectively. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or new to the world of BJJ and MMA, understanding the Rubber Guard is essential in appreciating the ever-evolving landscape of combat sports. Let’s unravel the intricacies of this groundbreaking technique and how it continues to influence the art of grappling.

The Anatomy of the Rubber Guard

The Rubber Guard, a notable innovation in BJJ and MMA, is a unique ground-fighting position that redefines control and flexibility. Understanding its anatomy is key to mastering or countering this technique effectively.

Core Elements of the Rubber Guard

  • Positioning: The practitioner, from a standard guard, uses their legs to control an opponent’s upper body. The key is to break the opponent’s posture, limiting their mobility.
  • Flexibility: A high level of flexibility is essential. The practitioner wraps one leg over the shoulder of the opponent and secures it in place, often grabbing their own ankle to maintain the hold.
  • Control: By using the leg and arm together, the practitioner achieves a high degree of control over the opponent. This position limits the opponent’s ability to strike or advance, while opening opportunities for submissions.

The Rubber Guard typically begins from a closed guard. The practitioner then shifts to a high guard, positioning their leg across the opponent’s back. The foot is placed under the practitioner’s knee of the opposite leg, creating a tight clamp around the opponent’s shoulder and neck. The free hand is used to maintain control, either by holding the leg in place or controlling the opponent’s head or arm.

The Rubber Guard is more than a defensive position; it’s a launching point for various attacks. Practitioners can transition to submissions like the triangle choke, omoplata, or armbar. It also serves as a protective measure, especially in MMA, where it can be used to neutralize an opponent’s strikes from the top.

The Rubber Guard is a fusion of flexibility, control, and strategy. It exemplifies the evolution of ground fighting in BJJ and MMA, offering a sophisticated approach to guard play and submission setups. Understanding its anatomy is crucial for any practitioner looking to incorporate this advanced technique into their grappling repertoire.

Historical Context and Evolution

The Rubber Guard has an intriguing history in the world of BJJ and MMA, marked by innovation and evolution. This technique’s journey from obscurity to widespread recognition is a testament to the ever-evolving nature of combat sports.

The Rubber Guard was developed in the early 2000s by Eddie Bravo, an influential figure in BJJ. Bravo, a non-traditionalist in the sport, sought to create a guard system that was effective in both BJJ and the no-gi grappling often seen in MMA. His experimentation led to the development of a guard that relied heavily on flexibility and control, differing significantly from traditional BJJ guards.

Eddie Bravo’s success in various BJJ competitions, utilizing the Rubber Guard, sparked interest and curiosity in the technique. His unique approach demonstrated its effectiveness, especially in no-gi grappling situations common in MMA. Following Bravo’s success, the Rubber Guard began to gain popularity, with practitioners eager to learn and incorporate this new tool into their own game.

As the Rubber Guard gained popularity, it evolved. Practitioners began adapting and refining the technique, tailoring it to suit different body types, flexibility levels, and competitive scenarios. The technique’s evolution was particularly notable in MMA, where it proved effective in neutralizing opponents’ strikes from the top position, a common challenge in MMA ground fighting.

The story of the Rubber Guard is one of innovation, adaptation, and strategic evolution. It reflects the dynamic nature of BJJ and MMA, where techniques are continually refined and adapted to meet the ever-changing demands of the sports. The Rubber Guard’s history is not just about a single technique; it’s about the spirit of creativity and evolution in martial arts.

Strategic Advantages

The Rubber Guard, a groundbreaking technique in BJJ and MMA, offers several strategic advantages that make it a formidable tool in the arsenal of any grappler.

  • Enhanced Control Over the Opponent: The Rubber Guard allows for superior control of an opponent. By effectively breaking down their posture and restricting movement, a practitioner can dominate the fight from the bottom position. This control is crucial in both BJJ and MMA, as it limits the opponent’s ability to launch effective strikes or advance to a more dominant position.
  • Defensive Shield and Offensive Launchpad: In MMA, the Rubber Guard serves as a shield against strikes from the top, a significant advantage given the ground-and-pound strategies often employed. Simultaneously, it acts as an offensive launchpad, enabling practitioners to set up a variety of submissions or transition to more advantageous positions.
  • Limiting the Opponent’s Offensive Options: With an opponent’s posture broken and their movements restricted, the Rubber Guard effectively diminishes their offensive capabilities. This limitation not only frustrates the opponent but also forces them into a defensive mode, allowing the practitioner implementing the Rubber Guard to dictate the pace and flow of the match.
  • Setting Up Submissions and Transitions: The Rubber Guard is an ideal position for setting up various submissions like the triangle choke, armbar, or omoplata. It also offers pathways to transition into other dominant positions, providing a tactical edge in grappling exchanges.

The Rubber Guard is much more than just a defensive technique; it’s a comprehensive tool that offers control, defense, and offensive capabilities. Its strategic advantages make it a valued technique in BJJ and MMA, showcasing the depth and complexity of ground fighting in these combat sports.

Common Submissions from the Rubber Guard

The Rubber Guard is not just a defensive position but a launching pad for various effective submissions. This unique guard, popularized for its innovative approach to ground fighting, offers a plethora of submission opportunities that can turn the tide in a grappling bout. Understanding and executing these submissions from the Rubber Guard requires skill, flexibility, and tactical acumen.

Let’s delve into the most common and effective submissions that can be executed from the Rubber Guard:

Triangle Choke from Rubber Guard



The triangle choke is one of the most effective submissions executed from the Rubber Guard in BJJ and MMA. It’s a technique that utilizes the legs to encircle and constrict an opponent’s neck and arm, leading to a choke. Here’s a detailed breakdown of executing a triangle choke from the Rubber Guard:

Step 1: Securing the Rubber Guard Position

Start by establishing a traditional closed guard. Then, transition to the Rubber Guard by pulling your leg up and securing it over your opponent’s shoulder, trapping their arm in the process. Grip your ankle with your hand to maintain control and keep the opponent’s posture broken down.

Step 2: Creating the Opening for the Choke

With your other hand, control the opponent’s head or arm to prevent them from posturing up. Shift your hips slightly to the side of the trapped arm, creating an angle that’s conducive for slipping your leg over the opponent’s neck.

Step 3: Locking the Triangle

Release the grip on your ankle and swing your other leg around and over the opponent’s neck, positioning it under your knee, effectively creating a figure-four lock with your legs. Ensure that one of the opponent’s arms is inside the triangle (between your legs) while the other is outside.

Step 4: Tightening the Choke

Pull down on your shin to tighten the choke, making sure to keep your other foot hooked behind your knee. For maximum effectiveness, pull your opponent’s arm across their body and secure it with your hand, while simultaneously pulling their head down towards you. Squeeze your knees together and elevate your hips, applying pressure on both sides of the opponent’s neck to complete the choke.

Key Points for Effective Execution

  • Flexibility and hip mobility are crucial for smoothly transitioning into the triangle choke from the Rubber Guard.
  • Maintain constant control over the opponent’s posture and arm to prevent escape.
  • Angling your body correctly is essential for locking the triangle efficiently.

The triangle choke from the Rubber Guard is a powerful submission that showcases the effectiveness of this guard system. When executed with precision, it’s a formidable weapon in grappling, capable of subduing even the toughest opponents.

Omoplata from Rubber Guard



The omoplata, a classic shoulder lock submission in BJJ and MMA, can be effectively executed from the Rubber Guard. This technique uses the legs to manipulate the opponent’s arm, applying pressure on the shoulder joint. Let’s break down the steps to secure an omoplata from the Rubber Guard:

Step 1: Establishing the Rubber Guard

Begin in a standard closed guard. Transition into the Rubber Guard by pulling your leg up and securing it over your opponent’s shoulder, trapping their arm. Hold your ankle with one hand to maintain the Rubber Guard position and control your opponent’s posture.

Step 2: Initiating the Omoplata

With your free hand, push your opponent’s trapped arm inward, while simultaneously opening your leg from the Rubber Guard, creating space. Swing your leg over your opponent’s shoulder, ensuring that their arm is trapped beneath your thigh.

Step 3: Securing the Omoplata Position

Pivot your body away from your opponent, laying on your side. This movement helps to extend your opponent’s trapped arm. Secure your legs in position, with one leg over your opponent’s back and the other controlling their waist, to prevent them from rolling out.

Step 4: Completing the Submission

Sit up while keeping your legs tightly in place, and reach towards your opponent’s waist or hip to prevent them from standing. Apply downward pressure on the opponent’s shoulder by pushing your hips forward and pulling their arm towards you. For the final submission, continue to apply pressure on the shoulder until your opponent taps out.

Execution Tips

  • Flexibility and control are crucial in transitioning to the omoplata from the Rubber Guard.
  • Ensure your leg is firmly over the opponent’s shoulder to effectively trap their arm.
  • Maintain a strong grip on your opponent’s waist or hip to prevent escape and increase leverage.

The omoplata from the Rubber Guard is a strategic move that combines flexibility, technique, and control. Mastering this submission can add a significant edge to your grappling game, showcasing the versatility and effectiveness of the Rubber Guard in submission grappling.

Armbar from Rubber Guard



The armbar is a potent submission technique in BJJ and MMA, and executing it from the Rubber Guard adds an element of surprise and control. This technique involves leveraging the opponent’s arm, applying pressure between the thighs to hyperextend the elbow joint. Here’s how to effectively execute an armbar from the Rubber Guard:

Step 1: Setting Up the Rubber Guard

Begin in a standard closed guard. Transition to the Rubber Guard by lifting one leg over the opponent’s shoulder, securing it in place while maintaining a grip on your ankle. Keep your opponent’s posture broken down to limit their mobility and set up the submission.

Step 2: Isolating the Arm

Use your free hand to control the wrist of the arm you intend to submit, ensuring it’s isolated and vulnerable for the armbar. Shift your hips slightly to the side of the isolated arm to create the angle necessary for the armbar.

Step 3: Swinging into Armbar Position

Release the grip on your ankle and swing your other leg over your opponent’s head, positioning it across their neck. As you swing the leg, ensure that the opponent’s arm is tightly secured between your thighs, with their thumb pointing upwards for optimal leverage.

Step 4: Securing and Finishing the Armbar

Once your leg is over the opponent’s head, pinch your knees together to secure the arm tightly. Lay back, extending your hips upwards while pulling down on the opponent’s wrist, applying pressure on the elbow joint. For maximum effectiveness, keep your heels driving down and your hips elevated until your opponent submits.

Key Execution Details

  • Flexibility in the hips and legs is crucial for smoothly transitioning into the armbar from the Rubber Guard.
  • Maintain control of your opponent’s arm throughout the transition to prevent escape.
  • Proper leg positioning over the opponent’s head and neck is essential to secure the armbar effectively.

The armbar from the Rubber Guard is a demonstration of technical proficiency and strategic control in grappling. This submission, when executed correctly, is a powerful tool, showcasing the versatility and effectiveness of the Rubber Guard in BJJ and MMA competitions.

Training and Flexibility Requirements



Mastering the Rubber Guard in BJJ and MMA demands not just technical proficiency but also a specific focus on flexibility and strength training. The effectiveness of this guard is significantly enhanced by a practitioner’s ability to maneuver their body into optimal positions, which requires a unique set of physical attributes.

  • Flexibility: The Rubber Guard is heavily reliant on lower body flexibility, particularly in the hips and hamstrings. This flexibility allows for the high placement of the leg over the opponent’s shoulder and back, which is crucial for maintaining control. Regular stretching routines focusing on dynamic and static stretches for the hips, groin, and hamstrings are essential. Practices like yoga can also be beneficial in achieving the necessary flexibility.
  • Strength Training for Rubber Guard: While flexibility is key, strength, especially in the core and legs, cannot be overlooked. Strong core muscles aid in maintaining the Rubber Guard position and executing submissions from it. Incorporate exercises like planks, leg raises, and stability ball drills to enhance core strength. Squats and lunges also contribute to building leg strength, which is vital for controlling the opponent.
  • Drills Specific to Rubber Guard: Practicing drills that mimic the movements and positions of the Rubber Guard helps in developing muscle memory and endurance in those positions. Drills can include transitioning in and out of the Rubber Guard position, maintaining the guard against resistance, and flowing into various submissions from the guard.
  • Starting Slowly and Building Up: For those new to the Rubber Guard, it’s important to start slowly to avoid injuries. Gradually increase the intensity and complexity of drills as flexibility and strength improve. Regular practice is essential. Incorporate Rubber Guard drills and flexibility exercises into your regular training routine to see steady improvement.

The training and flexibility requirements for effectively utilizing the Rubber Guard are both specific and demanding. A dedicated approach to developing flexibility and strength, along with regular practice of Rubber Guard-specific drills, is essential for any practitioner looking to add this technique to their grappling arsenal. Remember, the journey to mastering the Rubber Guard is as much about physical preparation as it is about technical skill.

Countermeasures and Defense



While the Rubber Guard is a formidable tool in BJJ and MMA, knowing how to counter and defend against it is equally important. Effective defense strategies can neutralize the Rubber Guard’s advantages and turn the tables in a grappling bout.

  • Recognizing Early Setups: The first line of defense is to recognize the early signs of a Rubber Guard setup. Watch for the opponent attempting to break your posture and pull their leg up. Maintaining strong posture and keeping your head up can prevent the opponent from successfully establishing the Rubber Guard.
  • Preventing Leg Placement: As the opponent tries to place their leg over your shoulder, work to keep your arms in close and avoid giving them space to maneuver their leg into position. Use your hands and arms to control their hips and legs, preventing them from climbing up into the Rubber Guard.
  • Posture and Positioning: Good posture is key. Keep your back straight and your head up. This not only makes it difficult for your opponent to control you but also prepares you for escape and pass attempts. Positioning yourself at an angle rather than directly in front of your opponent can reduce the effectiveness of their Rubber Guard.
  • Escape Techniques: One effective escape is to create pressure on the opponent’s hooked foot by driving forward and using your shoulder. Another method involves slipping your trapped arm out and moving into a more dominant position, like side control or half guard.
  • Utilizing Stack Passes: Stack passes can be an effective counter to the Rubber Guard. By stacking the opponent and applying pressure, you can force them to release their guard. Be cautious of your neck and arms during this maneuver to avoid submissions.

Countering and defending against the Rubber Guard requires awareness, strong posture, and effective use of positioning and pressure. By mastering these defensive techniques, practitioners can effectively neutralize the Rubber Guard, turning a potentially vulnerable situation into an opportunity to gain an advantage. Remember, in the fluid world of BJJ and MMA, being adept at both offense and defense is key to success on the mat.


As we conclude our exploration of the Rubber Guard in BJJ and MMA, it’s clear that this technique is more than just a series of movements – it’s a symbol of the continuous evolution and adaptability required in these dynamic sports. The Rubber Guard, with its unique blend of control, flexibility, and strategic depth, exemplifies the innovative spirit inherent in modern grappling.

The journey into the world of the Rubber Guard highlights the importance of continuous learning and adaptation. As BJJ and MMA evolve, so too must the techniques and strategies employed by practitioners. Embracing new methods like the Rubber Guard is crucial in staying ahead in the ever-changing landscape of combat sports.

For practitioners looking to diversify and enhance their grappling arsenal, the Rubber Guard offers a fascinating avenue for exploration. It challenges traditional norms and encourages a holistic approach to ground fighting, blending defensive tactics with aggressive submission strategies.

Whether you’re a seasoned competitor or a hobbyist, integrating the Rubber Guard into your grappling repertoire can provide new insights and opportunities for growth. It’s a reminder that in BJJ and MMA, as in life, adaptability and continuous learning are key to success and mastery.

So, step onto the mat with an open mind and a willingness to explore. Let the Rubber Guard be a part of your journey in the vast and enriching world of BJJ and MMA. Remember, the path to excellence is paved with perseverance, creativity, and an unyielding desire to evolve.


What is the Rubber Guard in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA?

The Rubber Guard is a grappling technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) that focuses on controlling an opponent from the bottom position. It involves using one’s legs and flexibility to secure the opponent’s upper body, limiting their movement and setting up submissions. This guard is distinctive for its reliance on flexibility and control, allowing a fighter to defend effectively and launch attacks from the bottom.

Who developed the Rubber Guard and what was its purpose?

The Rubber Guard was developed by Eddie Bravo, a renowned BJJ practitioner. He conceptualized this guard to maximize efficiency in no-gi grappling, which is common in MMA. The primary purpose of the Rubber Guard was to offer fighters a way to control opponents on the ground without relying on the traditional gi grips, and to effectively manage the distance to prevent strikes in MMA scenarios.

How does the Rubber Guard differ from traditional guard techniques in BJJ?

Unlike traditional guard techniques in BJJ, which often rely on gi grips for control, the Rubber Guard utilizes the practitioner’s own limbs and flexibility. It involves securing the opponent’s body by trapping one of their arms and using the legs to maintain control, as opposed to using the gi for leverage. This makes it particularly suitable for no-gi grappling and MMA, where traditional gi grips are not available.

What are the key benefits of using the Rubber Guard in grappling?

The Rubber Guard offers several benefits in grappling:

  • Enhanced control over the opponent from the bottom position.
  • Effectiveness in no-gi grappling by not relying on gi grips.
  • Ability to neutralize the opponent’s offense, particularly in MMA, by limiting their ability to strike.
  • Opportunity to set up various submissions and transitions due to the control it provides.

Which muscles and flexibility are required for an effective Rubber Guard?

An effective Rubber Guard requires good flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and lower back. The muscles involved include the hip flexors, abdominal muscles for core stability, and leg muscles, particularly the hamstrings and quadriceps. Flexibility is crucial to maintain the guard and to move fluidly into submission setups.

Can the Rubber Guard be used effectively in MMA as well as BJJ?

Yes, the Rubber Guard can be effectively used in both MMA and BJJ. In MMA, it’s particularly useful for controlling an opponent on the ground and reducing their ability to deliver strikes. It allows the bottom fighter to stay defensive yet offensive, making it a strategic tool in ground fights.

What are some common submissions that can be executed from the Rubber Guard?

Common submissions from the Rubber Guard include:

  • The triangle choke, where the opponent’s neck and one arm are encircled by the legs.
  • The omoplata, a shoulder lock that uses the legs to rotate the opponent’s shoulder joint.
  • The armbar, leveraging the opponent’s extended arm against the hips and legs.

How can a practitioner improve their flexibility for the Rubber Guard?

To improve flexibility for the Rubber Guard, practitioners should focus on dynamic and static stretching, particularly for the hips and hamstrings. Yoga can be an excellent complement to BJJ training, providing extensive flexibility and core strength exercises. Consistent practice and gradual progression in stretching routines are key.

What are the best countermeasures and defenses against the Rubber Guard?

Effective countermeasures against the Rubber Guard include:

  • Maintaining strong posture to prevent the opponent from breaking it down.
  • Using hand and arm positioning to block the opponent from securing their leg over the shoulder.
  • Implementing stack passing techniques to apply pressure and force the opponent to release the guard.

How has the Rubber Guard influenced modern grappling strategies in combat sports?

The Rubber Guard has significantly influenced modern grappling strategies by emphasizing the importance of flexibility and control from the bottom position. It has broadened the scope of techniques in no-gi grappling and MMA, challenging traditional approaches and encouraging innovation and adaptation in ground fighting tactics.

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