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BJJ Study

How Gordon Ryan Dominated a UFC Fighter – Seated Guard Study

By 18 May 2023May 24th, 2023No Comments
Max Armstrong playing seated guard

Max Armstrong is a full-time Jiu-Jitsu competitor and coach here at Roger Gracie Bristol, having captured British titles and had competition success internationally, Max has an excellent eye for detail and a top-class grappling brain. He is currently a purple belt under Luke Chamberlain.

“I have recently begun to make grappling-related tape study videos on YouTube. Here is my first video with over +50k views!”

Max ArmstrongRoger Gracie Bristol Full-time Competitor

“Hi my name is Max, in today’s video, I’ll be going over Gordon Ryan’s ability to prevent his opponent from heisting such as standing up and his punishment when they try and set up seated guard, this is a guard passing technology that I haven’t seen anyone else talk about other than Craig Jones and his guard passing instructional featured on BJJ Fanatics called Power Top.
The techniques on display weren’t featured in that DVD however the concept remained consistent but we’ll get into those later. I’ll be looking at the exhibition match between Gordon Ryan and Philip Rowe. Philip is a successful UFC fighter to have gone to successfully prevent him from standing up without a cage is very interesting, yes there was a size advantage but it’ll be obvious the techniques on display are what made the difference.
I’ll also be looking at Izaak Michelle vs Kyle Chambers, in that match Isaac has an impressive display of seated guard passing and guard passing in general, this nullifies a lot of Kyle’s ability to play guard which was referred to as Anti-jiu Jitsu and I’ll be explaining exactly what happened.
So what we see here is Gordon Ryan is currently trying to heist against Philip Rowe’s, but Philip has a scoop grip so he’s unable to do so. So he has to Pummel his foot back into the inside. It’s at this moment Philip Rowe elects to try and go to a seated guard and start disengaging in heisting and this is where things get really interesting because Gordon currently has his head over Philip Rowe’s head and his hands are creeping down towards both a hip and a knee grip. Now what he’s going to look to do from here is cut an angle and then start punishing Philip Rowe as he tries to frame on Gordon and post his hand and heist backwards and we’ll look at how that plays out Gordon uses a nice x-pass style movement to free his leg.
Philip Rowe is in quite a predicament here because his leg is scooped past the centre line with Gordon Ryan’s left hand and so he’s only got a few choices from here on out. He can potentially accept a terrible guard on the bottom by falling towards his back or he can look to post his hand and keep trying to go backwards and then from trying to go back either recover a nice guard or he could try and build height and stand up as most MMA guys typically do so at the risk of accepting a terrible bottom position versus Gordon Ryan. Phillip decides to keep trying to post his elbow and try and get up or at least heist backwards to recover some better form of guard or just to get better frames in place.
Now what’s really interesting about this freeze frame in particular, is the fact that it showcases the extreme angle Gordon Ryan is taking and the pressure he’s putting on Phillip’s posting elbow which means he can’t take that elbow off the floor, which means he’ll be forced to supine guard and also in this scenario because Philip Rowe was posting straight on Gordon’s thigh it means that Gordon was able to slip in and undertook.
We’ll be looking at afterwards what happens when he doesn’t have an underhook and he’s doing a cross-hip post instead. Gordon does something really clever here, he feints that he’s gonna go back inside the guard in order to potentially jump past and gain even more out of this situation.
Now it may seem unfortunate Gordon Ryan wasn’t able to get past his guard in one go, but let’s quickly recap he’s successfully punished Philip Rowe with low-energy movements that are incredibly straining on Philip, so he was leaning on him and running him down while Philip Rowe was carrying all of his body weight and on top of that he still landed in a good guard passing position ready to progress.
In this next clip, you’ll see that Philip Rowe is in a floating deep half-guard slash almost an x-guard and Gordon Ryan is proceeding to free his foot so Philip Rowe is gonna choose to try and disengage from the situation again via posting an arm and heisting. Gordon Ryan has a hip post and he’s somewhat already cut the angle on his opponent, with his head already going over his opponent’s head, Philip Rowe has a cross-wrist grip but that will be exchanged for a cross-hip post as Gordon Ryan starts applying a lot of forward pressure.
This cross hip post poses new problems and new opportunities. The main new problem it poses is the fact it’s hard for Gordon to apply forward pressure enough to pin him, as opposed to an underhook so he has to try and maintain the angle at all costs.  In this case, he’ll be using shin slices every time Philip tries to pull him into some sort of guard to maintain the angle so that he can camp out here and keep mounting pressure on him.
Now that Gordon’s solidified his camp and his angle, he is going to look to go to a knee on his belly and then start hiding the space between his legs and this opens up an interesting opportunity. Because Philip persists with posting on his hip it allows him to create an angle and outflank him and then go behind him and capitalize with a fantastic backtake.
So now we’re taking a closer look at this backtake, we can see that Gordon Ryan moves into riding the hips his hand that was on the knee goes to a near side under hook, and his hand that was on the hip starts drifting around the back of Philip Rowe. So now if he can beat his elbow he can turn this into the back-taking scenario because he effectively already has a seat belt.
Changing gears slightly, I want to take a look at the match between Izaak Michelle and Kyle Chambers.
In this match, Kyle Chambers wants to play a seated guard and we will be looking at the strategies that Izaak uses in order to exploit and pass the guard which was similar to those that Gordon used, the only difference being that Kyle isn’t trying to stand up and heist from this position.
We’re going to start with this initial hand fight, what Izaak is doing here and his goal is to win head positioning against Kyle Chambers so that he could start creating this forward pressure. Subtly off-balancing of the hands as he removes the grips, circles to the outside and now his head’s in position. Izaak is creating strong forward pressure here as a gripping battle is happening he currently has ankle control and he’s trying to win the grip battle on that knee.
This situation creates a number of problems for Kyle, namely, he is forced into a situation where he can’t access his opponent’s legs and if he concedes guard his opponent already has strong grips on his lower body which means he’ll be on the receiving end of a strong outside guard passing sequence, so it’s essentially a lose-lose situation for him and this is probably what was characterized as Anti-ju Jitsu in the post-match press conference.
With all these small battles won, Izaak’s hand is going to progress towards the hip turning into an underhook as he knee cuts for his opponent’s guard making the pass look effortless in the process.
On to the next clip, featuring the same procedures before, we’re going to see Izaak trying to remove frames by off-balancing his partner and stripping grips from him just like he would in a standing scenario and this is where we kind of see the merge between some wrestling tactics in the standing position and actually in guard passing as well.
Izaak’s going to use a little elbow throw by here to force his opponent’s hand towards the mat and now Kyle has lost his frame, as Izaak’s going to start pursuing and trying to get closer he strips another frame but there’s some of a downwards v-grip pushing it towards the floor as he starts threatening the head positioning and the angle which forces Kyle to reach.
Izaak is going to look to use this overextension towards his advantage by controlling his opponent’s leg at the ankle here is going to force him supine as he looks to threaten passes towards the north-south. From here this will force Kyle to sit up.
kyle chambers attempting to heist against izaak
Unfortunately, the referee is somewhere in the way for this next clip but what you’re going to see is that Izaak has won the head positioning and as Kyle goes to sit up he throws his upper body towards the side as he misdirects into a lovely north-south pass this concludes the Izaak section, in summary, I hope this video was able to highlight tools to punish someone when they bail to seated guard, when they try and heist from seated as well as additional approaches to passing seated guard.
This was my first ever video and I had a lot of fun making it. It was quite a learning experience. I’m open to feedback as I’m looking to improve my content overall. I’ve got lots more studies planned as well as other Jiu-Jitsu content so feel free to subscribe and follow my social media to stay updated on when those get posted.
Apart from that thank you guys and have a wonderful day!”
Yalcin Sucu

I am a full-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach & competitor at Roger Gracie West Bristol(With a knack for technology and computers!)#BlueBelt