When I first started playing jiu jitsu, I had a very difficult time putting my opponents into my closed guard. Keeping them there was cake, but getting them there was nearly impossible.
This bothered the heck out of me, of course. So I asked my professor what I could do to improve, and his response to me was, “The guys here are very good at staying out of closed guard.” This wasn’t helpful at all, nor was it any kind of answer to my questions. I was clearly on my own in this regard.
Or maybe not. When I think about it, very few people I trained with, or train with now, look to close their guard. This is for a number of reasons.
The first reason is the most obvious: Trying to pull someone into your closed guard is like trying to drag a cat into a shower. And when you do manage to succeed, and your opponent escapes soon after, you feel defeated. Closed guard is hard work, and is looked at by many players as more trouble than it’s worth.
The second reason you don’t see much closed guard, is that you almost always have to open your guard to advance your position and/or submit your opponent. Opening your guard leaves opportunity for escape, so your technique and timing have to be sharp when your legs open. If you don’t have a killer lapel choke, you may be looking for an alternative guard.
The last reason I’ll mention may be the most important. The berimbolo! That’s right. You cannot berimbolo from closed guard. Not Miyao, and not ever (see what I did there?). But really, the closed guard may be the least dynamic of all the guards available. And all of the visually appealing submissions and sweeps come from other positions, which leads many jiu jitsu players to view the closed guard as antiquated.
Brazilian jiu jitsu was built around the closed guard. I still think it’s the strongest position in the sport and should be the first position nurtured by all new players, if for no other reason than for the ease of its mechanics. But as listed above, there are plenty of reasons to just leave the thing open.