worm guard

Worm Guard 101- Everything You Need To Know

Be it for self-defense or winning your next match, knowing how to set up a successful worm guard move is a necessity in Jiu-Jitsu. The worm guard is a new move formulated by Keenan Cornelius. It managed to progress his career to new heights since it’s challenging to pass guard, thanks to the variety of moves grapplers can transition into whenever opponents try to pass guard.

This article discusses everything you need to know regarding the worm guard, what it means to pass guard, the various types of guards in Jiu-Jitsu, and the origins of the worm guard. Read on to find out more.

What it Means to Pass Guard in Jiu-Jitsu

In Jiu-Jitsu, passing guard is essential when establishing a dominant position over your opponent. It entails grappling with an opponent lying on their back and slicing through their knees to control their body movements for around 5 seconds.

You must maintain a good body posture, stance, and distance to exert pressure for a successful guard pass. Your footwork and spot targets are your arsenal in taking down and dominating an opponent. Of course, creativity is much welcomed to pass guard in Jiu-Jitsu in general. 

Various guards are used as offensives to stop you from gaining dominance and bypassing them, as it’s a common practice in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

The various types of guards are classified into the following;

Closed or Full Guard

It is a standard guard position where you mount an offensive by locking your legs at the back of your opponent while at your back. This move disrupts your opponent’s posture forcing them to grapple for balance as they try to pass your guard. 

The Open Guard

The success of the open guard is highly dependent on how you make your joint locks and chokeholds. It involves using your legs as leverage to wrap or push your opponent without locking them in. This allows your opponent to try and pass your guard by standing up.

You can use this move to set up off-guard sweeps and transition to techniques such as the butterfly, X-guard, spider, 50-50, and rubber guard.  

The Half Guard

In the half-guard move, you mount an offensive by locking both your legs on your opponent’s one leg. It involves a series of body positions and grips to stop your opponent from passing your guard. These positions include submission holds and sweeps. 

Some of the most common half-guard positions include the Z- guard, deep half-guard, and reverse De La Riva guard. 

The Pulling Guard

The pulling guard is the transition from standing to your guard position. It entails leveraging your weight to destabilize your opponent’s stance while pulling them down.

Now that you know the types of guards, let’s look at how you can pass them using the worm guard.

The Origin of the Worm Guard

As any go-getter facing difficulties, Keenan Cornelius-the multi BJJ champion, introduced the worm guard position in the 2014 Pan American Championship. Although he admitted to not being ready to use this lapel-controlling move, he executed it successfully due to intense pressure from Murilo Santana to win the match. 

Keenan’s innovative worm guard controls the body movement of your opponent using their lapel and undermines their posture leaving them vulnerable for a takedown. It also improves your body positioning taking advantage of your opponent’s imbalance and exposed vulnerabilities as they try to pass guard.  

This lapel guard move improved Keenan’s wins in the World Pro Championship and the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the same year it went public. As such, top grapplers like Joao Miyao and Rafael Mendes adapted it.

However, the Copa Podio (Jiu-Jitsu’s promotional body) banned the worm guard over fears of a drop in pay-per-view clicks in their streams. A decision that was later backtracked and amended, limiting the duration of time grapplers can use the move. 

Step-by-step Instructions on How to Perform the Worm Guard and Helpful Variations

Have you ever seen how a worm gets wriggled up whenever you touch it? You’ve guessed it right; the worm guard uses the same concept. 

The trade-off is that your opponent can’t wriggle, but they’ll lose their posture and lateral body movement. Additionally, they won’t be able to step back or advance past your hips and legs, giving you the window of executing other moves to dominate them. 

The Worm Guard Basics

If you stick by the following steps, the worm guard is easy to execute; otherwise, you risk messing everything up and getting slammed. 

A rotational pull maneuver is the initial step of a successful worm guard set-up. You set this up by passing one side of your opponent’s Gi jacket or lapel under your leg and theirs to your opposite arm. It allows you to control their torso and posture, forcing them to kneel. 

Once in this position, avoid the knee cut pass by closing the circuit. This is done by moving to the parallel side of your opponent, placing one leg straight above both knees and the other leg at the back of their feet to limit mobility. 

And wallah, you’ve got your worm guard locked. Now it’s time for the other moves to wrap everything up. 

As much as the worm guard sounds easy, it requires intense practice for a perfect and quick takedown. Remember, you’ve got limited time to execute the worm guard in tournaments.  

The Worm Guard Variations

Once your worm guard bjj is locked in, take down your opponent using the following variations;

The stand-up sweep

When you’re ready to earn 2 points from this move, position yourself well and use your free arm as a pivot while lifting your butt in a circular motion. This move will drive your opponent back as they lose structural balance and fall.

After this, pin your opponent’s free knee down to avoid them initiating the Single X Guard. Also, leverage your lapel grip to push down those knees so that they remain helpless. 

Finally, mount on your opponent and take your 2 points home. 

The Reverse De La Worm

The idea behind this move is limiting your opponent from facing you and turning, thus exposing their backs and leaving them helpless from forming any guard pass. 

The Reverse De La Worm move involves passing the lapel to your inside arm, which is in the gap between your thighs and your opponent’s ankle. The downside of the movement is that pushing and pinning your non-worm guard leg is possible, but worry not. The Wormnado is right under your sleeves. 

The Wormnado

You won’t be able to make a swing to your back if your non-worm leg is pinned. Therefore, advance the Reverse De La Worm move by leveraging your lapel grip to invert and place you on top of your opponent, and Ta-Dah, you’ve successfully pulled the Wormnado. 

Wrapping up

Jiu-Jitsu is an art that requires practice and creativity to get it right. Keenan has demonstrated this with his contributions to the BJJ world. From coming up with the worm guard to establishing variations to reinforce the worm guard, you’re now in a better position to mount an offensive and win. 

So, keep on practicing and always be innovative. Who knows, you might be the next BJJ innovator!