The guard (in Judo sometimes referred to colloquially as do-osae, "trunk hold; in Catch Wrestling, the "front body scissor") is a ground grappling position where one combatant has their back to the ground, while holding the other combatant using the legs. In pure grappling combat sports, the guard is considered an advantageous position, since the bottom combatant can attack with various joint locks and chokeholds, while the top combatant's priority is to transition into a more dominant position, a process known as passing the guard. In mixed martial arts competition or hand-to-hand combat in general, it is possible to effectively strike from the top in the guard, even though the bottom combatant exerts some control. There are various types of guard, with their own advantages and disadvantages.
The closed guard is the typical guard position. The legs are hooked behind the back of the opponent, preventing them from standing up or moving away. The opponent needs to open the legs up to be able to improve positioning. The bottom combatant might transition between the open and closed guard, as the open guard allows for better movement, but also increased risk in the opponent passing the guard.
The spider guard comprises a number of positions all of which involve controlling the opponents arms while using the soles of the feet to control the opponent at the biceps, hips, thighs or a combination of them. It is most effective when the sleeves of the opponent can be grabbed, for instance if the opponent is wearing a gi. The spider guard can be used for sweeps and to set up joint locks or chokeholds.
The x-guard is an open guard where one of the combatants is standing up and the other is on their back. The bottom combatant uses the legs to entangle one of the opponent's legs, which creates opportunities for powerful sweeps. The x-guard is often used in combination with butterfly and half guard. In a grappling match, this is an advantageous position for the bottom combatant, but in general hand-to-hand combat, the top combatant can attack with stomps or soccer kicks. This having been said, skilled use of the X guard can prevent the opponent from attempting a kick, or throw them off balance should they raise a leg. The X-guard was popularised by Marcelo Garcia.
The De la Riva guard (also called the De la Riva hook and jello guard) is an open guard that was popularized in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by black belt Ricardo de la Riva Goded, who was successful with it in competition. In it, one of the legs is wrapped behind the opponent's leg from the outside, the ankle held with one hand, and the other hand grips one of their sleeves. The De la Riva guard offers many sweeps, transitions and submissions, and is often used in combination with spider guard.
The turtle is primarily a defensive position. Unlike most, it is not based on the use of the legs for control. It can also be used as an offensive position, with recent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners such as Eduardo Telles bringing it to the limelight. The turtle involves curling up on all fours, with one hand used to defend from chokes and the other to defend from leg hooks. The idea behind the turtle guard is to defend the back, a risky position to give up in BJJ. The turtle guard can be transitioned to an open guard while a pass is attempted; in BJJ competition this avoids points being scored from obtaining side control.
This is a position that keeps the opponent down in your guard. Popularized by Eddie Bravo, also the founder of many techniques from this position. By being flexible and using a leg to hold the opponent down, one arm is free to work on submissions, sweeps or to strike the opponent's trapped head. The rubber guard is set up like a branching path or choose-your-own ending story. There are six basic "levels" in the rubber guard, with one major option and two minor options along the way.