Here we go again. There’s every BJJ instructional DVD out there, and then there are Danaher Death Squad instructionals. Whenever we’re looking at the latter, it is clear that we have something very special on our hands. This time, it is Gordon “The King” Ryan, and the second installment in his No-Gi BJJ Instructio0nal series. It is one that we expected somewhat earlier, but a knee injury to Ryan saw it delayed. Well, “Systemizing Closed Guard” is now out and we pulled an all-nighter to bring you the very first complete review of this Gordon Ryan DVD!
Ryan’s previous instructional was all about passing the guard in No-Gi. In fact, ti was all about passing every guard imaginable. This time, Gordon switches his attention to working off the back. However, unlike the broad approach in his previous instructional, this time around he focuses on just one position – the closed guard. This is an “evergreen” subject in BJJ as the closed guard is never a position that falls out of favor. In fact, it is making a comeback as the go-to position as of late, meaning the “Systemizing Closed Guard” DVD comes at a perfect time. However, this is an instructional that has a completely different take on the closed guard to anything we’ve ever witnessed before. Most of it is down to the man behind the instructional, the No-Gi king Gordon Ryan.
Back To Basics With Gordon Ryan
Last time around, Ryan did an 8-part DVD instructional that had so much information I’m still stuck at the second volume. It did offer incredible concepts and techniques when it comes to guard passing, although the organization was a bit cramped. All in all, Ryan’s first DVD was a success. Understandably we expected just as much from his second DVD, and even more. And that is precisely what we got in “Systemizing Closed Guard” This instructional, surpasses not only all other BJJ DVDs but also Ryan’s previous set.
There’s no denying that the closed guard is a timeless position. It offers so many opportunities that you can pretty much use it your entire career and always be a threat. That’s precisely why it works for brand new grapplers just like it does for legend the likes of Roger Gracie, and the new heavyweight king, Gordon Ryan. While the closed guard has plenty of variations to its original version, not many of them have proven to be highly effective throughout the years. If there’s one aspect of the closed guar that really needed polishing, it was the No-Gi approach to this fundamental Jiu-Jitsu position. Thankfully, Ryan and Danaher recognized this need and came up with yet another foolproof system.
There’s something else to consider. Ryan’s knee injury might just turn out to be a blessing in disguise of sorts. Not that Ryan is anything but highly skilled and extremely technical, but his recent injury makes him be even more careful. And, there’s no better position than the closed guard to let a knee recover from trauma. As he prepares for the ADCC in just over a moth’s time, we suspect a lot of his bottom game is going to be based on the closed guard principles he demonstrates.
Check some free techniques HERE
Full DVD Review OF Gordon Ryan’s “Systemizing Closed Guard” Instructional
Ok, now that the “Systemizing Closed Guard” instructional is out. Let’s compare it to the previous Gordon Ryan DVD set. In doing so, we’ll see which aspects of the DVDs organization remain the same, and what is different. As far as similarities go, this is once again an 8 part DVD set. He also used different volumes to cover specific subjects, although not as precisely as in this new instructional. Also, there was narrated rolling at the end where Ryan used all the stuff he thought in real-life scenarios. Once again, his Uke in the DVD is Nathalia Santoro.
However, his second take at a BJJ instructional also has certain much-welcomed differences. For starters, the organization of information is much better. To that extent, each volume covers a highly specific aspect of the closed guard, in a very progressive manner. That means no coming back to previous moves like before. Also, the conceptual aspect of things is much more precise and to the point. Ryan shares a concept, then goes into divulging tactical and technical ways of putting it into practice. Plus, there’s also a different take on the rolling portion. Here, commentary and rolls are not split into two distinct volume.
“Systemizing Closed Guard” is a six-piece No-Gi DVD instructional that lasts just over 6 hours. The information in it addresses the closed guard from just about any possible aspect. There are defenses, counters, attacks, and transitions, all organized into a very cohesive system. In fact, core positions make up for the large portion of the first 6 volumes, each addressing all of the aspects we just mentioned. All in all, this Gordon Ryan instructional is definitely a much better one than his last, which we all thought to be superb.
The one thing to keep in mind is that you have to follow the order of the DVDs if you really want to get a grasp of the complete system. Oh, and allow yourself some time to really get through it – think months as opposed to weeks. The 6+ hours of material deliver so much information that it is impossible to go trough one disc in just one sitting. Well, not if you want to take something away from it.
#1 – Side Scissors
The opening DVD in this series starts with the mandatory introduction. Make sure you really pay attention to it as this is where Gordon Ryan shares an overview of the entire system. He does get into each aspect of it later on, but this is where he talks about the closed guard as a whole. It is imperative that you understand this part before you move on.
Technically speaking, the first volume covers a really fundamental move – the scissor sweep. However, as expected from Ryan, this is much more than just a one-off sweep. Yes, we all learn it as one of the first techniques in BJJ and leave it behind very soon. Well, the sid scissor, as Ryan dubs it, is a position that offers a well-rounded attacking game and not just one sweeping maneuver. Ryan’s take on it is to attack, either direct submissions or to improve positions. When it comes to submissions, an armbar is the most direct option. There’s also an unexpected rear triangle in there that really changes the position’s potential. In terms of getting to better positions, there’s of course, a back take, given how much both Ryan and Danaher value the position. Finally, a pendulum sweep offers both a transition and serves as an introduction to the second volume.
#2 – Pendulums And Arm Drags
The pendulum is yet another staple of the closed guard game that Ryan revisits. His approach of working with the proven fundamental stuff as opposed to creating new complicated positions is really refreshing. The first pendulum attack is actually in the previous volume, where Ryan demonstrates how to get a triangle choke from the position.
As he continues in the second volume, he offers further triangle options off the pendulum, as well as ways to complete the sweep. What really catches the eye is the attention to details in terms of the triangle entry. Ryan offers several directions based on your opponent’s reaction. To that extent, you can switch to a “wrong way” triangle, or enter the legs if an opponent breaks away from a triangle attack.
The second part of volume two of the “Systemizing Closed Guard” DVD focuses on what I consider to be one of the best-attacking avenues form the closed guard – the arm drag. There’s nothing quite like the arm drag to help you expose the back, whether standing or from guard. Here, Gordon Ryan shares his arm-drag mini system from the closed guard. It involves back takes some crazy side armbar attacks and an entry into the pendulum. As you can see everything ties in together, as the arm drag can lead to a pendulum and it can tie with the side scissor. A knee lever from the arm drag completes part two of this DVD.
#3 – Problem Solving And Wrist Control
The third volume, which also happens to be my favorite, at least from one glance. It is a bit different from the previous two. This is a more conceptual volume, looking at principles rather than techniques. Honestly, in any Gordon Ryan instructional, it is impossible to draw a clear line between techniques and concepts. However, this part is more geared towards principles of attacking and controlling form the closed guard.
It all begins with what to do when an opponent’ stacks you. Whether it is straight-up passing or an armbar counter, Ryan has some very interesting answers. He covers not just the stack problem, but also the pullout problem when it comes to completing an armbar. Moreover, he explores different ways in which you can control the arm far better than standard methods offer. The figure-four is one quick way of solving these common issues. However, there’s more.
If you like a more systematic approach to controlling the arm from the closed guard, you need to look at wrist control. The second half of volume three of the “Systemizing Closed Guard” instructional covers just that. You get about half a dozen ways in which you can control the wrist when it comes to finishing armbars. Ryan includes several grip variation as well as a few counters to common reactions.
#4 – The Pinch Headlock System
Here’s where things get pretty interesting. As far as No-Gi tactics form the closed guard go, this is a very efficient one to take care of posture, among other things. What is particularly love about it is that Gordon Ryan shares different ways of getting to the pinch headlock without having to muscle your way up and tire your core. As you’d expect there’s a direct entry into the back as the first option from there.
The flower sweep, which was covered earlier is Gordon’s preferred way of getting to the top position. Plus, it offers a great way to connect the pinch headlock to previous positions. In fact, there’ a lot of information on the flower sweep here, covering just about every scenario, from common problems to transitions into other attacks, like the Sumi Gaeshi for example. The headlock clamp and a crazy good Ude Gatem mark the halfway point of the “Systemizing Closed Guard” DVD.
#5 – Overhook Clamp Closed Guard
The overhook closed guard is an area of the closed guard that plenty of people have attempted to develop, both in the Gi and without it. There are some useful concepts out there, but nothing comes close to what Gordon Ryan has to offer. If there’s one aspect that’s completely transferrable to Gi closed guard game, it has to be this one.
The volume begins where the previous one left off- with the Ude Gatame. Her, Ryan talks about follow-ups if you fail with it. One option is going for an armbar, while another is gong for the overhook closed guard. Form there, Ryan likes to play his signature overhook clamp closed guard, launching a myriad of attacks from there. Virtually anything, from armbars and Kimuras to Omoplatas works perfectly form there. In fact, there’s one leg lock entry from the Omoplata that is going to be a real hit.
Of course, there’s also a triangle entry available. What’s really impressive though, is how Ryan utilizes the reverse figure four grip to actually make the clamp position even better.
#6 – Sweeps And Submissions
The final portion of the technical part of ‘Systemizing Closed Guard” looks at some sweep and submission options that were not covered so far. Once again, the focus is on fundamental stuff that works at all levels of Jiu-Jitsu. Of course, everything is then adjusted to include som Gordon Ryan magic, so that all moves get supercharged.
The DVD kicks off with a slick Kimura setup, followed by a series of hip bump sweep options. Armbars and triangles feature heavily once more, as does a cool figure 4 top lock. Sweep-wise, it is time to cover the handstand sweep, which addresses a standing opponent. The principles are simple, yet revolutionary, and the attacks once again feature nothing but basics. Triangle, armbar and a sweep make up the attacking portion form the handstand sweep. Furthermore, Ryan shares a few fail-safes, like entering the legs, hitting a double ankle sweep and even an unexpected combo attack.
#7 & 8 – Rolling And Commentary
The reason why I’m covering both of the final two volumes of “Systemizing Closed Guard” together is that they both contain the rolling portion of the instructional. In a very unique approach, Ryan actually covers the rolls first and then goes into the commentary. There are 5 rolls in total, each with a fresh partner. During all fo them, Gordon Ryan does pretty much everything he shares before and does an immaculate job of explaining how things work in the commentary. A wrap-up portion containing closing thoughts brings this instructional to an end.
Will you learn a brand new, never-before-seen closed guard form this Gordon Ryan DVD? Now, you won’t. What you’ll learn is how to use the very foundational aspects of the closed guard to become extremely effective. “Systemizing Closed Guard” is an instructional that gives a modern touch to a core Jiu-JItsu position. Instead of looking to change it, Ryan only focuses on improving certain aspects of it so they fit modern Jiu-Jitsu requirements. I have no doubt that we’ll see a lot of this closed guard in action come to ADCC next month.