Ryan Hall BJJ DVD REVIEW: The Modern Defensive Guard (2022)

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The man who basically pioneered learning from BJJ instructional, Ryan Hall a.k.a. the “The Wizard” is finally back in the business of making Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu DVDs. Ryan had a series of instructional (I am pretty sure they were 10 in total) that lasted for hours and covered just about every subject back in the day. He was the first to produce tens of hours of highly organized material in his DVDs, one of which was all about how to play the defensive guard in BJJ. Now, he has decided to re-visit that subject, focusing this time on The Modern Defensive Guard in a brand new Ryan Hall BJJ DVD instructional.

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For me, a Ryan Hall DVD is always something worth having. The way he structures things and explains the material is very rare, even among the best of the best in terms of BJJ instructors. Ryan is a true wizard at teaching JIu-Jitsu and making you see both the details and the big picture at the same time. 

This instructional does just that. Already accustomed to talking for hours, Ryan seems to have had no trouble in unleashing an 8 part instructional about the Modern Defensive Guard.

In this instructional, Hall takes us through the fundamentals of developing an unpassable guard. These include fundamental principles, positioning, and movements. He follows up on that by sharing his concepts on shelling, frames, and counterattacks. He also addresses the key aspects of his defensive guard in which he has changed his approach compared to his previous instructional on the subject, in order to adjust to modern-day Jiu-Jitsu.

Instructor Background

Ryan Hall is a  black belt under Felipe Costa and is one of the best minds in Jiu-Jitsu in the history of the sport. Currently on the roster of the UFC with a 9-2 record. Ryan was also an early adopter and pioneer of leg locks, following in the footsteps of Dean Lister long before they became popular. in fact, he likes them so much that his BJJ academy in D.C. bears the name 50/50 Jiu-Jitsu.  

As a grappler, Ryan has several big accomplishments before he earned his black belt, including winning the Worlds and Europeans at purple belt. As a black belt he won ADCC trials in 2009, but then quickly changed his focus to MMA, turning pro in 2012.

He immediately got in the UFC by way of The Ultimate Fighter and has been quite impressive in the octagon since.

Ryan Hall picked up BJJ in 2004. he soon sought out Lloyd Irvin’s team and his skill level quickly exploded. He got all his belts up until brown under Lloyd, but left the team after disagreements with Irvin in 2009. He was promoted to black belt by Felipe Costa in 2010.


The subject of this Ryan Hall BJJ instructional is clear from the start: how to develop a foolproof defensive guard game.  Playing a defensive guard is not high on most people’s list, which is exactly why so many guards are exceedingly easy to pass. Ryan knew about the importance of the defensive guard game decades ago and was the first to address the subject in one of his early DVDs. 

Since then, the common perception of guards has not improved too much. While there is more o the subject of defending your guard nowadays, the information is still scarce. So, when somebody like Ryan Hall, who has spent the past 15 years exploring the defensive aspects of gaurd comes out with new material, he jumps at the front of the queue.

What you can expect to learn in this DVD is how to keep people from dismantling your guard, how to be aware of where they are, how to move when you’re on your back so that your guard is never in danger and how to develop a defensive shell that can be used for lighting quick counter-attacks.


Ryan Hall is an amazing instructor for people of all levels. That said, I used his old DVDs as a white/blue belt and learned a lot. since then, I have revisited his material at every belt level, and always had something new to discover, even though I could pretty much recite his work for a while. 

This last Ryan Hall BJJ DVD is the same. Across 8 volumes, Ryan systematically breaks down what the guard siss, what your defensive goals are, and how to achieve them. regardless of how experienced you are, you will learn new about defending your guard.

Technical Details

This instructional is produced under the BJJ Fanatics umbrella, which guarantees the level of all the technical aspects. The quality of both video and audio is in high definition, there are multiple angels to every technique, and the material is available in both DVD format and as a digital download. 

The material is organized in 8 volumes, each lasting differently, depending on the subject (the shortest one is ¬15 minutes, while the longest exceeds two hours). The complete running length of the instructional is just under 8 hours.

From a Jiu-Jitsu standpoint, Ryan uses the first volume to talk about concepts, the broad idea, and how his take on the defensive guard has evolved since his last instructional. The complete organizational system of this instructional is as close to perfect as possible with a very easy-to-follow progression through the material. 

Detailed Analysis

DVD #1

The first part Ryan Hall’s “Modern Defensive Guard” instructional is the introduction to the entire concept and system offered later on. He begins by discussing distance control, and how why it is nothing more than a myth.

He moves on to talk about the purposes of guard, setting the tone very early about what is truly important. Hall also shares an interesting analogy he calls @the castle [email protected] It perfectly describes what a defensive guard should be about.

The final concept in this first volume is about timing. It focuses on the guard game in three stages, the opening, mid, and end game.

From the get-go this new Ryan Hall BJJ DVD seems to be the real deal!

DVD #2

Part two is about principles. In this volume, Ryaan goes over the 7 principles he builds his defensive guard game around.

The first couple of principles are most likely known to you in some fashion: alignment and posture. Ryan sheds new light on them, offering a slightly different, defense-driven perspective.

Following suit is principles about pressure, the role of the centerline, and the highly entertaining trap door principle. Each principle builds upon the previous ones, showing you a systematic perspective of the entire system from the very beginning.

The volume wraps up with Ryan presenting the principle of Kuzishi and talking about pushing vs. pulling.

DVD #3

The third volume is still on the subject of fundamentals, but this time focusing on positioning. This is where Ryan shares his take on how the body moves primarily around two main axis – folding and rotating.

He then explains the role of elbows frames, and how to best utilize them to protect your center. His take on frames shared here is different from the framing concepts most of us know and use, usually with limited success.

Something that featured in his old defensive guard instructional, the principle of levels of guard finds its place in volume 3 as well. Of course, this time the principle is in an updated format.

Body shape comes next, defining seated vs. supine, concave vs. convex, and edge vs. square. Wrapping up is a demonstration of this last principle, about the power of the edge.

DVD #4

Volume number four of this Ryan hall BJJ DVD is the final volume that contains principle-focused material. In it, hall shares the fundamental movements that will help you defend your guard against anyone.

Things like base, shrimping and reverse shrimping, and bridging are a big part of this volume. However, Ryan has a different way of looking at them and presenting them. simply put, he takes all the unnecessary motion out of shrimping and offers a new and improved way to move.

Snaking out your hips, a couple of different Granby rolls, and back rolls complete the list of fundamental defensive movements for BJJ guard players.

I really loved the way Ryan finishes this volume. Namely, he offers connections, helping you see how you can combine all the fundamental movements for an ultra-effective defensive guard game.

DVD #5

Past the halfway point in this instructional Ryan Hall starts sharing technical details on playing a defense-oriented guard. In this volume, Ryan shares the concept of the shell and where frames fit in. It is the longest volume, lasting over 2 hours.

The way Ryan organizes the material is by explaining where the shell and frames meet. From there he looks into different types of frames, including but not limited to foot, thigh, shin, hand, head, butt frame, and more.  Basically, he shows you how to frame every single part of your body, upper and/or lower, while still maintaining guard.

he also covers inversions and how they relate to the shell. A few drills on transitioning between different frames to keep your shell bring this volume to close.

DVD #6

Part 6 goes on about the shell. Hall introduced the concept in the previous volume, but this is where he truly gets into the nuts and bolts of it. In his words, the shell is the core f your defensive guard.

What you can expect to learn is how to expand and contract the shell, the points of control, hand fighting, etc. Ryan also offers solutions to common problems like underhooks, knee stuffing, the crossface, and more.

He ends with a drill that will help you test your shell. It is named the crashing drill.

DVD #7

Right before the end of this Ryan Hall BJJ DVD the attacks come into the spotlight or better said counterattacks. Hall starts with his methodology on attacking from a defensive position and then launches into examples.

he shares 11 different core attacks, ranging between sweeps, submissions, and transitions. Some of them are duck under, cross swim duck, Omoplata, Shaolin sweep, the snake swipe, and others.

The best part is that at the end of this volume, Ryan Hall connects all of the attacks not just to the shell and frame concept, but also to each other.

DVD #8

Similar to the introductory first volume of the “Modern Defensive Guar” Ryan Hall BJJ instructional, the final volume is basically an outro.

 Ryan uses this volume to talk about something nobody has covered before – developing sensitivity. the more you train and spend time on the mats, the more you’ll be able to sense how people move and use the appropriate countermoves. 

he wraps up by sharing a few acknowledgments and giving his closing thoughts.

How We Grade “The Modern Defensive Guard” Ryan Hall BJJ Instructional

Considering this XXXXXX instructional 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

The grat audiovisual realization of this instructional, along with Ryan’s organization of the material make it one of the best BJJ DVDs in existence.

Quality of Content: 10/10

Once again, a true win. One of the best Jiu-Jitsu DVD instructionals I have ever seen, and I have seen more than my fair share. This Ryan hall BJJ DVD tackles a subject that is just as important as it is ignored in the BJJ community. The fact that one of the best instructors ever is behind this instructional just adds to its weight. 

Gi or No-Gi, MMA or grappling, white or black belt, if you use the guard in your martial art,you will benefit from this DVD.

Overall: 10/10

I have become so critical of the way people teach BJJ that I very very rarely give out the perfect score. This one, though, deserves it from every possible aspect. Hats off to Ryan Hall for this masterpiece. 

Wrap Up

 “The Modern Defensive [email protected] DVD by Ryan Hall is one of those that will become a staple in the game. just wait until the first few high-level grapplers share the success they had with his concepts in competition WHy not get the jump on everyone and invest in this now?

Ryan Hall Defensive Guard jiu jitsu dvd cover
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