Before I get stuck in to a review of BJ Penn “The Closed Guard”, I need to begin by saying I like books! I was wandering around on ebay when I saw this advertised so threw my bid in and bought it. In short it was a good buy.
What Is It About?
Nothing clever here, the book does as it says and focuses on what Penn refers to as “the most essential guard of all.” If you were thinking “Great, a book about defending” you would be wrong, it does touch on defensive aspects, but only where looking at how to counter and attack.
Why Closed Guard?
BJ Penn draws attention to the simple fact that, while the closed guard is the most basic guard, it is the most important one to master. Here you have substantial control of your opponent’s body which allows execution of a broad array of submissions, sweeps and transitions. I think even today as the game changes this still holds true.
The layout and approach are very much like Saulo Ribiero’s Jiu Jitsu University. The sections are colour coded which allows for easy reference, simple and yet very effective. The moves are described step-by-step and illustrated by colour photos. Nice touches are the extra detail shots when necessary to expand on something.
The book shows numerous techniques for breaking down your opponent’s posture and getting control of his body. The book covers a wide range of collar chokes, arm chokes, and triangle chokes. Details continue on a range of straight arm bars, inverted arm bars, kimuras, Americanas, omaplatas – their setups and finishes. It doesn’t stop there Penn also demonstrates a wide selection of sweeps and transitions. In essence it is very detailed in the use of guard, which given its title is exactly what you would hope.
Who is it for?
As a blue belt and training for 4 years I found it a good reminder of basics, it added some neat areas of refinement, and introduced some new bits (or had I forgotten them?) to play with. I would recommend it as a useful resource for a white belt and superb for a blue belt. I can see how higher belts would gain from it as refresher or as a guide to breaking things down if they are instructing.
Whatever your level you are at, if you see it at a sensible price (and they are going up!) I would recommend buying it.