Widely regarded as one of the most skillful users of jiu-jitsu inside an MMA cage, Demian Maia has an exclusive lesson for Graciemag readers.
In the following video, Demian explains the correct way to place your elbow on the inside of your opponent’s thigh to avoid straining the muscle — a common mistake in gyms everywhere — but just to create the necessary lever and keep your opponent’s hip isolated. Now you can get up and open the guard.
“Once I’ve landed here in the closed guard, there are a few important things I need to know. First: Avoid putting your hands on the ground. Putting both hands on the ground sometimes makes it much easier to launch attacks on your arm — kimura, inverted armlock, triangle… Lots of things. So try to keep your hands on top of him. Your elbow you can sometimes touch to the ground. But your hands, on top of him.
“I’m gonna throw one hand out in front, closing his gi and palming my hand on his chest. And I’ll show the most basic guard-opening there is. I’ll hold here and now I’ll close my elbow inside his thigh. But I don’t want to muscle here. This won’t open the guard; it’ll just hurt him. What I want is my forearm parallel to his thigh, hidden. Because this is what’s gonna give me this [loud noise] to press down. Here, even if he attacks my arm, if I keep this lower hand here, he can’t spin, can’t glue his hip to me, and lacks the pressure to get my arm.
“So I’m gonna lift one leg, I’ll keep my arm on the inside here. Most important: I don’t try to open with the elbow; I just try to keep my elbow on the inside. And now I’m gonna stretch my back leg, keeping the pressure here on his hip and my elbow on the inside. And as I turn my hip a little outward, I’ve opened the guard. I’ve opened it, and I’ll move away to start passing.
“Once more. Most important of all is this: I’ve grabbed here and I twist my hand in this position, and elbow inside.
“Come open my elbow.
“I don’t let him. You hide your elbow on the inside. In fact, it’s not just the elbow. It’s the whole forearm that you’re hiding inside his leg. Here, this pressure, he’s gonna feel it throughout — this guard-opening pressure. Now I’m gonna stretch my leg at the same time I put my lumbar region back. It’s my lumbar region that does the opening.”