I find it quite tricky to maintain a closed guard as I shortish legs, I find that its not that hard for someone to break it open.

Is there any good advice on how to keep a good closed guard if you have shorter legs?

(actually there are a number of things that seem tricky if you have have shorter legs, eg, triangle chokes)

  • Do you also have a short torso?
    – Robin Ashe
    Jul 4, 2012 at 10:01
  • it's a good idea to watch some of the lids classes.. It's amazing to see these small critters holding on with their legs.. it might give you some strategies, as they've learnt to adapt this from being way short.. :)
    – user6827
    Oct 22, 2013 at 13:33

3 Answers 3


there are a few things you can do to help with this:

  1. break down your opponents posture, it's very hard, if they are sitting tall, even for someone with normal/long legs to keep the guard closed. use your legs to draw them in, and lock up their upper body, this keeps them closer, and makes it easier to keep your guard closed.

  2. develop a good open guard game instead of focusing on keeping your guard closed. the beauty of bjj is that it can be adapted to suit your body type. a strong open guard whether it be a butterfly, spider, or just regular open guard, can be just as effective as a closed guard.

  3. strengthen those legs. exercises likes squats and side lunges, as well as sideways leg lifts will all strengthen the muscles needed to maintain a good guard.

as for triangles, the same rules apply, you need to control your opponents posture a bit more then a long legged person. the plus side being, once you've got it on, it's a lot easier for a short legged person to finish a triangle then a long legged person.

  • 1
    Breaking their posture is key - try to get an arm around their head/neck and pull them in. As a bonus, there are some nifty lapel chokes from here as well. Feb 4, 2012 at 3:13

There are physical limitations, you have to figure out if the person you are trying to contain can actually fit in your guard.

If they can but you are struggling then a good tip I've learned is to reduce the space between their belly button and your groin, raise your hips and curl your feet to their butt and this works to give you more control of their hips.

Another good guard maintenance tip is every time they move to do anything, whether they adjust their base or stand a leg up to pass standing, pull them in with your legs. If you feel your control of their hips slipping then doing this can disrupt their base enough for you to readjust.

Hope that helps!


Patricia has some good answers for closed guard. I have issues with a triangle choke and cannot do it due to flexibility and the size of my legs. So in my BJJ class the guys who cannot do the triangle choke practice another way.

When in position where you would throw your leg across horizontally instead walk your legs down there back as far as they can go and lock your ankles together. Pulling the opponent in toward your body trying to get there neck and arm as deep into your legs as you can. Then clamp down with your heels pushing in toward you, leaning back and thrust your hips upward like your doing an arm bar. This should generate significant opposing forces to make up some of the difference in the power that the lever action of a triangle choke generates.

Hope this helps.

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