5 Key Tips Before Transitioning From The Seated To Supine Guard

In BJJ, the guard is used to prevent the opponent from passing. Guards allow you to set up different submissions and sweeps when used correctly. There are different ways to play the guard, and each passing style corresponds effectively when properly matched against the other. Practicing transitions is critical, especially when moving from the seated open guard to the supine guard, regardless of whether it’s your go-to or the opponent forces you into the position. In this article, we will give you five tips to effectively transition from the seated to supine guard.


Seated And Supine Guard Overview

Supine guards in grappling are types of guards played while lying on your back on the mats. Some examples are the De La Riva, Spider, X-Guard, and Deep Half Guard. On the other hand, a seated guard is when you’re playing the guard while sitting upright. Commonly used guards are the butterfly guard and shin-to-shin. Normally, to pass the seated guard, a common way is to flatten the opponent’s back on the mat. While this ends the seated guard, it also forces the opponent into a supine position, which they may use to employ another type of supine guard.


Transition From The Seated To Supine Guard

Securing your position is important before transitioning from the seated to the supine guard, as one mistake may leave you vulnerable to having your guard passed. Below are the key things to consider as you transition from the seated to the supine guard.


1) Prepare Your Line Of Defense

Remember that your legs, head, and arms can be used as your line of defense when playing guard. A good example is when you’re playing the butterfly guard and are looking to transition to X-Guard. While a good way to pass the butterfly guard is to enter the body lock pass, being prepared to push the opponent’s head down if they enter the body lock is a good indicator of positional and situational awareness. This comes with expertise, particularly with the guard you’re playing.


2) Establish A Connection

Establishing a connection by applying hooks such as the DLR hook, butterfly hook, overhook, and underhook, or any grips will help you manage the distance between you and the opponent, should you set up sweeps as you move into a supine guard. Applying grips is relatively important, especially in the gi, where most guards establish grips and pull back to the supine guard.

An example is when playing with the gi, grabbing the opponent’s collar or sleeves and directly pulling into a DLR, spider, lasso, or a combination of such open guards requires a strong connection. This way of setting up the seated to supine guard transition works because of the grips that can be applied with the gi. While gi grips are non-existent in no-gi, this doesn’t mean that you can’t work on similar gripping applications. While the DLR hook may not work as well in no-gi, it can still be helpful, especially when setting up leg attacks.

Likewise, in no-gi, different gripping strategies should be applied, which are mostly related to wrestling. When transitioning from seated to supine in no-gi, you must build a strong connection such as the two-on-one grip, wrist control with collar tie, body lock, a combination of over and under hooks, or shoulder crunch. Doing so prevents the opponent from easily passing your guard and relieves you from getting set up in dominant passing positions such as the headquarters and the j-point.

Remember the supine guards that work well in no-gi like the half guard and its variations, and the X-guards. Such guards work well in no-gi as you can use the strongest part of your body – the legs, to push away or lift the opponent above you, allowing you to sustain the position for some time. Remember not to stay timid when playing supine guards and maintain your connections, as this will enable you to sustain the position.


3) Create An Off-Balancing Effect

As you move to the supine guard, a good offensive strategy is to create an off-balancing effect known as “kuzushi“. Doing so will enable you to enter your desired supinated guard position much faster. Regardless of whether you complete the sweep, it creates a threat that your opponents will look out for as you stay busy setting up attacks from the guard. A successful sweep will help you land in a top position.

Using the seated butterfly guard as an example, getting a body lock, two-on-one grip, or a shoulder crunch will give the threat of a sweep before you pull down to supine or transition to other guards. Relatively, kuzushi opens up an opportunity for you to wrestle up.


4) Be Ready To Wrestle Up

In relation to tip #2, you must maintain some grips, especially the underhook. As mentioned earlier, a common way to pass the seated guard is to force the supine guard. When this happens, be ready to wrestle up. Assuming that you have a shin-to-shin guard and the opponent pushes you to the mat and flattens you, always be prepared to get back seated and wrestle up.

After all, the goal in Jiu-Jitsu is to be the grappler on top. Wrestling up is a skill and is a good way to gain momentum, especially if you’re a half-guard player. Practice and see how it fits into your game.


5) Don’t Turn Away From Your Opponent

The Supine Guard is a fundamental position in BJJ that offers numerous opportunities for submissions and transitioning to dominant positions.

Beginners normally make the mistake of turning away from their opponent. This can be risky as you want to be facing your opponent when transitioning from the seated to the supine guard. If your game plan involves setting up a sweep or attacking from the turtle position, letting the opponent take your back is risky. Don’t make a habit of turning away from your opponent.



Like transitioning from a dominant position to another, moving from the seated to the supine guard requires control over the opponent. More importantly, drill your go-to guard positions often, as it will help build your muscle memory if you’re forced into unfavorable scenarios when playing guard.


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