Marcelo Garcia – Sweeps Part II – X Guard


The X-guard, more than any other position, is synonymous with Marcelo Garcia. Although I’m sure people were using it before him, Marcelo revolutionized and expanded the position to make it one of the most dangerous places for his opponents. The four primary X-guard techniques that I would like to focus on are:

  1. Single-leg Takedown
  2. Unbalance Sweep
  3. Tomo-Nage
  4. Ankle Pick Sweep

The focus of the X-guard is control and the ability to rob your opponent of his balance. Here’s Marcelo showing an entry to X-guard from butterfly guard, and some common sweeps from this position:

Newer students often have trouble achieving the most efficient posture when entering the X-guard. As you achieve this position, ensure that the under-hooked leg is right against your neck and ear, not on your bicep. I like to use this hand to block my opponent from dropping his knee on my face. This hand can also be used to clamp down on the opponent’s leg if they turn to spin out of the position. The instep of the leg on the same side as the under-hook should be high in the opposite hip, with the knee flared past the opponent’s centerline. The instep of the other leg should be tight against the knee of the far leg, pushing against their balance.

The sweeps that Marcelo demonstrates in the above video are the X-guard takedown and the unbalance sweep. These are two of the highest-percentage sweeps that Marcelo uses from the X-guard in competition. Here’s the takedown sweep:

  1. To perform the takedown sweep you should be familiar with standing up in base.
  2. As you extend your legs to push your opponent’s weight back, make sure to hold on tight to the leg with your under-hooking hand.
  3. Place your free hand on the mat to provide balance. The leg on the knee slides though to stand up as you continue to push with the foot in the hip.
  4. As you stand up use a gable grip to keep the trapped leg tight. From here you can choose the appropriate single-leg takedown.

Another sweep Marcelo uses is the Tomo-nage variation from X-guard. Here he shows this variation from one of his World Martial Arts DVD sets:

The last X-guard sweep that Marcelo uses consistently enough to focus on is the ankle pick – shown below being done to the incredulous Shinya Aoki:

We also have a video of Ben Stiller doing six X-guard sweeps, starting with the ankle pick. This is personally one of my highest percentage sweeps from the X-guard. It can be tough to get your opponent’s weight off their far leg. I found that it helps to extend your legs to push their weight back. If they push back into you, direct their weight high and snag their far leg. Now push forward and sweep, making sure to control their ankles and use their momentum to pull yourself up.

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