The guard positions are what characterize BJJ the most. For the longest time, there were just the open, closed, and half guards, but with the rapid evolution of the sport, new techniques and positions are constantly created. A few guards bear single-letter names due to the shape they have. One of the newer but most powerful inventions is the K-guard.
The K-guard is a position in which you have one shin between your hips and the hips of the opponent, with the heel pointing towards the ceiling and the foot hooked on their thigh. The other leg is positioned across the opponent’s chest.
The K-guard is very versatile and something everyone into modern no-gi should be familiar with. The primary attacks from there are leg locks, but there are many great back takes and other transitions, in addition to being a tough guard to pass, so the K-guard is something you should pay attention to.
The K Guard is a Jiu Jitsu open guard position where you are on your side, with two shins in front of the opponent and an over-under grip behind one of their knees.
Your bottom leg is positioned with the knee on the mat between the opponent’s knees, with your heel pointing towards the ceiling and your foot hooking on their hip.
Your top leg is in a more standard knee-shield position across the opponent’s chest, hooking underneath the armpit.
While the bottom hand is gripping underneath the knee, the top one is best placed on the biceps to prevent any cross-face attempts. The more common option people use is to Gable grip both hands behind the opponent’s bottom leg.
The K Guard is excellent for controlling your opponent’s movement and preventing them from escaping or improving their position.
It also provides an excellent platform for sweeps, taking the back, standing up, and going for various submissions.
To create different sweeping options, use the K Guard to transition into other positions, such as the X Guard or the butterfly guard.
A great thing about K-guard is if it fails and the opponent manages to recover their position, you will be back in full guard or at least in open guard with both legs in front of the opponent, making the transition to K pose little to no risk of conceding a position.
It’s unclear who invented the K-guard. Still, without a doubt, the man who made it popular is Lachlan Giles, who used the guard with great success and took home bronze in the open weight division at the 2019 ADCC despite being much smaller than his opponents.
Here is a great video of the man himself explaining the basics of K-guard.
The K-guard is best approached when the opponent is kneeling. There is a standing version of the K-guard where your passive leg’s knee is not on the ground, but in this article, we will deal mainly with the full and grounded K-guard.
One of the most popular ways to get into K-guard is when the opponent is trying to execute a pass, and you have the knee shield.
From there, you must drop one knee to the mat and establish the gable grip behind the knee.
The transition can come from other guards like the half-guard, butterfly, De la Riva, or single-leg X-guard. You can put the knee on the mat from all these positions and place the foot on their ribcage.
Attacking From the K-Guard
The K-guard is an excellent position for control because you use both legs to prevent the opponent from passing.
The bottom leg, with the knee on the ground, prevents them from moving their hips forward, while the top leg is the active one and is used first to prevent the opponent from coming forward and smashing you and then to disrupt their balance.
For most of the attacks from K-guard, you need to break the opponent’s balance and bring his weight over you.
Pull the opponents towards you by using your top leg and load up their weight on top of you, leaving them with no meaningful base.
From there, the easiest sweep is done by moving the leg you have a grip around across your body and re-establishing a new grip, this time like for an ankle lock.
This will free up one of your arms to post on and do a technical stand-up without releasing the grip on the leg.
Once up, you can pursue a single-leg takedown or a body lock. In both choices, you have a solid advantage in positioning.
This sequence is perfectly shown in the video by Lachlan Giles shared earlier in the article.
There are dozens more options for transitioning from K-guard, depending on the opponent’s reactions and your goals.
This guard is now used as part of a complete system, and a quick overview of its immense capabilities can be seen here:
Submissions From K-Guard
Sweeps and backtakes are important, but submissions are way more fun, and the K-guard offers several options.
Leg locks are the most readily available submissions from this letter-named guard and what many modern advanced no-gi players use it for.
We will start with the backside 50/50 heel hook. The entry into the leg entanglement starts the same way as the sweep/standup scenario.
From K-guard, you need to disbalance the opponent, shift their weight on top of you, and move them forward to expose the back.
Move the controlled leg on your other side by grabbing the big toe and locking it with your top leg.
This will expose the heel and give you complete control to finish the heel hook. Here is what this nasty submission sequence looks like, as shown by Ryan Villalobos.
To continue with Ryan’s series, we will also review the inside heel hook from K-guard. For the most part, the path is the same as in the backside 50/50, but once you are on your back with both knees facing the ceiling, you would want to trap the opponent’s leg by crossing over your inside leg.
When the opponent does backstep, you end up in the saddle position, from which you can go for the heel hook.
Like most things in BJJ, the K-guard has been turned into a complete system with many options for most situations.
Out of the many open guards, the K-guard is the one that offers the most offensive options. It’s best used by leg lockers in submission grappling, but it’s also useful in the gi, where it allows for some crafty sweeps and back takes.