There are many different kinds of guards (and many guards that are currently in development.) One of the more popular ones is the spider guard. For anyone who doesn’t know: spider guard is a form of partially open guard in which the guardiero retains a sleeve grip by hooking the cuffs of the sleeves with their fingertips and uses their feet to control the distance of their opponent to them with at least one foot in the bicep or crook of the opponent’s arm and the other foot either doing the same or doing something else (depends on the sort of spider guard and desired techniques).
Spider guard is often perceived as “unrealistic” because it relies fairly heavily on the gi jacket. I personally think that it can be used in no gi as well with an over grip on the wrist that is being controlled, however if the opponent gets very slippery, spider guard becomes irrelevant. However, I live in Cleveland Ohio and about 8 months out of the year people wear long sleeves and very often they wear coats, who knows maybe spider guard would be a good weapon in a self defense arsenal?
There are a variety of options with the “other leg”. Many do what I like to call “spider-riva” in which they wrap the free leg around the opponent’s leg in a De La Riva like situation. This gives potential for all sorts of different attacks and sweeps; it also makes a full guard recovery easier than some of the other options.
Another viable option is the leg lasso. I am personally a big fan of this one, as are many practitioners. The leg lasso involves reaching the foot that was on the bicep in under the arm creating pressure on the person’s bicep, elbow and shoulder. This can be used for a variety of submissions and sweeps.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of spider guard is the fragility of the fingers. There are many memes and jokes about how spider guard has potential to really maim the finger joints because you are basically trying to control another person’s body by anchoring your fingertips into their sleeves. On a purely pragmatic basis this may not be the best idea, fingers break easily!
What do you think of spider guard? Do you think it’s applicable in no gi/in a “street situation”? When you play spider guard what do you like to do with the free leg? Are you a lassoer? Do you like Spider Riva? Foot on hip? Or plain Jane classic double spider? Most importantly, how many of you out there have mangled your fingers trying to hold onto that sleeve grip while your opponent uses their entire upper body to rip their arm away from you?