Who has the best guard in BJJ? The answer to this question changes every few years. It also depends a lot on the new guards that are sprouting all over, and on new innovative players that adopt and develop them. Still, throughout the history of our sport, some people will always remain known for having incredible guard games. The Mendes brothers rank very high on that list, and in particular, Gui Mendes, who now shares a different perspective on approaching the guard game for Jiu-Jitsu players in his “Understanding The Distance From Guard” DVD instructional.
Mendes brothers’ DVD instructionals have been scarce given how famous they are in the BJJ world. In fact, there are only two titles currently available, both by Gui Mendes. One of them is what we are reviewing here today.
The subject matter is understanding the distance from guard, an approach to BJJ guards that is not often talked about or utilized as much as it should be. Not all guards in Jiu-Jitsu work at all distances, which is a concept that is at the center of this DVD. He covers near distance, middle distance, and far distance dedicating a full volume of the instructional to each. the fourth volume covers sparring, which Gui Mendes narrates, breaking down the uses of all the concepts and techniques outlined in the first three volumes.
Gui covers several guard positions while trying to present his concept which is by no means restricted to only those guard positions.
Guilherme Mendes is one half of the famous Mendes brothers duo with a legendary status in the BJJ community. Born in 1998 in Rio Claro, Brazil, Gui HE started training along with his brother Rafa in 2001 under Ramon Lemos and they both got their black belts in 2008. The brothers switched teams a lot, from Nova Uniao to Atos, eventually opening their now-famous AOJ academy.
Gui Mendes has 42 wins and 8 losses at black belt, claiming 4 World, 1 Pans, 2 European, and 1 Brazilian Nationals title in the process. He is best known for his incredible guard play, involving lots of inverting and unorthodox attacks. However, the Mendes brothers are also wizards from the top, which makes their understanding of how to play guard even more impressive and detailed.
The instructional covers X Guards, De la Riva, and Reverse De La Riva, as well as the collar and sleeve guard. Form each, Gui shares concepts of defense, attack, and maintenance, while also focusing on how you can change the guards as the distance between you and the opponent changes.
Apart from covering concepts on managing the three distances, Gui Mendes also offers narrated rolls. This help bring things into perspective for the viewer, especially those looking to use the entire system to improve their guard game
The main approach to everything is control, aka guard maintenance. Mendes starts by defining the distance, then the guard configuration, ensuring it is difficult to pass, and only then talking about attacks: sweeps, submissions, and transitions.
The instructional will benefit grapplers of all levels, although those at purple belt and above are the ones that will get the most out of it. Gui Mendes is a great teacher, but Rafa is the better one at teaching when it comes to the Mendes brothers. That just means that people with more experience will have an easier time understanding the concepts offered in this DVD.
The techniques themselves do not go into Berimbolo territory and are simple by Mendes standards. Gui explains everything in detail and although he focuses on Gi moves, most of the concepts, especially those referring to distance are also applicable in No-Gi.
From a technical standpoint, the “Understanding The Distance From Guard” DVD instructional is good. The sound is clear, and Gui, although having a strong Brazilian accent speaks fluently and precisely.
The instructional is available both in DVD format and a digital download, with pristine video quality.
Each of the four volumes lasts roughly about an hour, bringing the total of this instructional at four hours.
Detailed Analysis Of “Understanding The Distance From Guard” by Gui Mendes
In the introductory portion of the first volume, Gui Mendes focuses on the concept of framing and gives his definition of distance from a guard player’s perspective. After a very interesting chapter on distance control, he goes straight into exploring near distance.
Gui opens up with offensive concepts that include braking posture, forcing posts, crossing the centerline, and more. Triangles and collar chokes are the submissions of choice from this distance, and there are great examples of how to chain attacks starting from the submissions themselves.
The medium distance is where most people spend most of their time in guards, especially in the Gi. Most people’s favorites De La Riva and X-guards (which also happen to be Mendes Brothers’ favorites) make appearances throughout this volume.
After explaining the concept of middle distance and a few tips on guard retention, Gui launches straight into attacks. He offers transitions between the De La Riva, Reverse De La Riva, and the X-guards while showing common guard pass counters.
Famous Mendes brothers’ finishes in the form of toe holds and kneebars dominate this volume, as well as some innovative concepts on using the transitions between middle distance guards in order to counter specific guard passes.
The far distance guards, as defined by Gui Mendes, are the ones that have the most distance in between the guard payers and the top player’s hips. Despite many people associating far distance with the supine guard, Gui goes seated, choosing to play the collar and sleeve guard.
Even though this guard might seem vulnerable, it is actually extremely easy to hold and very offensive. Collar drags, are of course the start of the show, followed up by stuff like ankle picks, armbars, and Omoplatas.
The final volume gives us a glimpse into how the Mendes brothers think in terms of match analysis and strategy. In this one, Gui Mendes goes over 12 different sequences as they’re executed in live sparring situations. He narrates all of them but does not go extremely deep with the analysis.
The instructional wraps up with a couple of chapters on drilling and student corrections, which I personally found interesting.
How We Grade “Understanding The Distance From Guard” Gui Mendes DVD
Considering this Gui Mendes DVD’s technical aspects and quality of content, we come to an overall score for this instructional that I’ll deliberate in short below.
Technical Quality: 10/10
This being a BJJ Fanatics DVD, there’s not much to comment on from a technical standpoint. They know how to put their stuff together so nothing but ht highest grade here.
Quality of Content: 8/10
Content-wise, this DVD offers a lot of quality. It is just long enough to cover lots of aspects in regard to the subject matter, covering all of the three distances in-depth, but not going overboard. The precision of the content in terms of length is very important, as many instructional nowadays go astray the longer they are.
While complex, the material covered is still not difficult for everyone to grasp. Gui Mendes makes the necessary connections between the guards, distances, and all the general concepts. It does require previous knowledge of the guard positions, though, and more than just working knowledge. Also, most of the techniques in the instructional are Gi only, which is one of the reasons this is not a perfectly rated instructional.
The narrated roles are also a bit rushed, although the students’ corrections chapter is an interesting thing to put in a BJJ DVD.
Overall Score: 9/10
If you are a guard player, get this DVD. If you follow the Mendes brothers and like their style of guard work, definitely go for this instructional.
I guess any Mendes brothers DVD is one worth checking out. This is a highly specialized instructional, though, and Gui Mendes c certainly delivers some guard magic, as promised in the title. You can hardly go wrong by getting this instructional, but do take into consideration that becoming proficient in each distance of guard will take quite a long time. Even with Mendes brothers guard BJJ DVD instructional.