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Vol. 3: Strategic Guard
Vol. 2: The Guard
Vol. 1: Passing the Guard

My name is Stephan Kesting: I am a jiu-jitsu black belt and have been doing martial arts for over 26 years. This latest book by Joe Moreira and Ed Beneville is one of my very favorite books in my martial arts library, which includes hundreds and hundreds of other books.  The book is very clearly laid out, very logical in it's progression, and very complete in the topics it addresses.  Most important though, there are many techniques, details and strategies that will be immediately useful to the grappler the very next time he steps on the mat.  It helped me and it will help you.

Take care


From: M. A. Reviews

I've been waiting a long time for this. Another book from Ed Beneville's Grappling Arts Publications. Ed is responsible for the prvious works 'Passing the Guard' (with Tim Cartmell) and 'The Guard' with Joe Moreira.

For 'The Strategic Guard', he again teams with his teacher Moreira to produce a volume largely about defending your position in the guard. It also has chapters on sweeps and the sitting guard.

The reason I have been looking forward to this release is Beneville's attention to detail. Grappling Arts' previous publications pioneered the idea of multiple camera angles and different colour gis for the models. The previous books also had inordinately large numbers of photos showing the most intricate details. The new book doesn't disappoint in any of those areas, either.

'The Strategic Guard' is over 260 large format pages. Each page seems to average over twenty photographs and not one of them is wasted. Some some books add too many photos at the expense of clarity. The photos don't seem to capture the details, even if there's a lot of them.

In this book, every photo has something to say and the sequencing is clear.

The book has eleven chapters, starting with side control escapes followed by one on north-south escapes. It is refreshing for me to see these areas treated in terms of there relationship to the guard, rather than the typical purely defensive and isolated fashion.

There follows a chapter on deflection where the art of maintaining space and head control is covered in depth. This is followed by a simple and highly detailed chapter on half guard.

Following this is the meat of the book - four chapters on countering guard passes. The chapters classify the passes as tight or loose, knee in the middle and underhook passes.

A helpful chapter on counters to submissions follows before the aforementioned chapters on sitting guard and sweeps. The submission counters chapter is especially innovative to me. All to often, we gloss over the danger of submissions from inside the guard with rhetoric about positional hierarchy.

Grappling Arts Publications consistently turns out high quality, highly detailed books. This one is useful to all Jiu Jitsu practitioners, but its subject matter and detail make it as useful to purples and browns as it is to whites and blue which is where books are usually marketed.

Joe Moreira has a simple game with a lot of detail. Ed Beneville is helping him make it known to the world. If you're looking for instruction that will give you insight into the fundamentals and help you maintain your guard, this is the book for you.

For me, I'm kind of glad there's some time between each Grappling Arts publication. There's a decade's worth of details here for me.


Zankou (from Sherdog)

I've got it, I've looked through it, and here are my thoughts.

Overall, it's excellent, the best of the series. The paper and photographs are far better than "The Guard." The subject -- defensive guard work -- is much more narrow than The Guard, which imho suffered from taking on too broad of a subject. This allows the authors to do a more comprehensive and focused take on the subject area.

The book is really quite unique in focusing almost entirely on the complexities of guard defense. As such, there really is nothing out there that it can be compared to. There are exhaustive, lengthy sections on escapes from side control and north south. There are detailed sections on how to escape back from half guard into guard (as opposed to more offense-minded half guard style). THere are long chapters on how to defend each "style" of guard pass -- the open toreado style, the close and tight style, and the smash pass style. Finally there is a discussion of the sitting guard and underhook butterfly guard.

Each of the chapters is detailed, encyclopedic, and covers "mistakes" and "key details," something I wish every BJJ book would do. Very helpfully, every chapter has a "flow chart" of moves that recaps the chapter. This is a great, great addition.

Criticisms? They are few and far between. They didn't show my favorite blocks of the toreado (controlling the arms with opposing hand cups on the elbows, or collar dragging), and they somewhat strangely to my mind don't seem to cover grip breaks to arm drags from sitting guard, something that I usually think of as a core aspect of the sitting guard game. The sitting guard chapters are "Moreira sitting guard," which is a somewhat specific approach. Also the reverse sweeps were not covered in quite as many variations as I would expect. But really these chapters are supposed to give you the basics of how to defend the guard when you lose all grips, and they do that pretty well. Just don't expect a butterfly guard treatise.

Overall? Awesome. A top-5 BJJ book for sure, and a must-have for guard players.


I have been following the rise of the grappling movement since the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in Denver, Co., 1993. Since this time, exaggerations have developed about the importance of grappling skills in the martial arts arena, which have more to do with individual marketing claims than about the genuine importance of basic grappling skills. There are, however, fundamental truths about grappling essentials that are needed if one desires to become a well-rounded fighter. Enter: The Strategic Guard, Volume 3.

My personal experience in operating in actual violent combative environments has demonstrated a general requirement for the complete understanding of defensive tactics stressing basic escapes from disadvantage positions and repositioning strategies designed specifically to turn the tide of an initially bad situation into a better situation, in order to dominate the adversary.

During my experience in grappling competitions prior to the 1993 UFC era, understanding how to maneuver and operate from the bottom position from my back, made all the difference as to whether or not I was able to win the match, commandingly.

From my personal experiences in two very distinct environments calling for grappling skills, I believe it is imperative for competitive mixed martial arts athletes and hard-core combatants, both possess solid, basic skills of how to operate successfully, defensively, from the ground, in the bottom position, from their backs.

Volume 3: The Strategic Guard, does precisely this through its photographically rich—text-enhanced manual. The Strategic Guard specially addresses the needs a practitioner must master in order to change a position of disadvantage to one of advantage, and being on our back, one the bottom in an open-type guard is definitely one of disadvantage, especially if we find ourselves here without our intention to be here.

Through a series of chapters addressing specific positions and maneuver, we learn the fundamentals of side control and north/south escapes; the basics for applying deflections against the top adversary’s body in order to reposition our own body; how to better utilize the half guard position to our advantage. We will learn the best ways for protecting our side from loose guard passes and tight guard passes; how to defeat the adversary in a strong combative base against our open guard posture. We will learn how to take advantage of “underhooking” when one attempts to pass our guard as well as submission counters. In addition to the aforementioned skills, we learn to capitalize on a seated guard posture, and how to best facilitate sweeps against the top adversary to a mount position or a better top position in relationship to the adversary.

This book is not about being actively offensive from the guard position but more directed at learning what skills are needed when we find ourselves in positions demanding defensive skills in order that we might eventually become more offensive. This is not a submission-rich book, but the submission applications that are included are from unique postures with special applications designed to catch the adversary off-guard, making for a more secure submission when applied.

We must remember, and it is what this book is attempting to achieve, is that the fighter who is balanced defensively with a strong offensive capability, commands the match or the battle field. It is never sufficient to only know attacks or only know defenses. Offense and defense must be seamless. This book provides the information one needs to develop this defensive ability to transition one into the other more effectively.

The maneuvers in this book are highlighted with numerous, multi-angled photographs that are almost like watching a slow motion video. Frame per frame of detail, one is able to see the intricacies needed in order to master the basic movement demonstrated. With the models in different colored uniforms on a neutral background, much time and effort was made by the authors to provide the best possible visually intense learning format available to modern book technology. And since I am a visual learner, this book is outstanding as an aid to actual physical instruction.

I have had the opportunity to review many of the top publishing companies books specializing in jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts, and while their formats are good, the visual format created within the Strategic Guard, is superior, for the simple reason, after each chapter, a series of chained movements are added, so that the reader has the opportunity to visualize a seamless applicability of the various movements demonstrated in each chapter.

One of my biggest complaints of other grappling manuals are that they do not illustrate enough detail needed to understand the movement and that they show the movement as an isolated entity. This book does not suffer this weakness. On the contrary, its strength is that Joe Moreira stresses the importance of being able to transition to another technique immediately when one is not working. He then goes on to show how we can transition one movement into another throughout the book.

I have not had the honor or privilege to review the two previous volumes of the Guard series. This is my first chance to review anything offered from The Grappling Arts Publications LLC. I understand that Volume One: Passing the Guard and Volume 2: The Guard, are currently being updated and revised for their 2nd Edition releases in 2009. It is my hope I will be able to review these up-dated volumes as potentially being very high quality learning aids. I am greatly impressed with the quality of the design and the internal format of this currently reviewed book: Strategic Guard. It is always a special treat for me to be able to review such well-made, creatively designed, aesthetically pleasing book filled with reliable, valid and credible information, as well.

From my perspective, in must award Volume 3: Strategic Guard, a beyond five star quantifier. I highly recommend Volume 3: The Strategic Guard to those mixed martial arts athletes and coaches who want to develop a wider repertoire of sound basic skills leading to advance applications in competitions. I also recommend this book to those lawful (law enforcement, security and military personnel) operators who are seeking a real advantage in a combative environment when their position initially is not one of advantage, but one where they find themselves on the bottom, on their back, needing to escape or reposition to a better posture in order to prevail.

Thank you.
Rev. A. Bodhi Chenevey, RM, DD


Review by Daniele Bolelli, M.A.

California State University - L.A.

Strategic Guard is the third volume in a very popular series of instructional books about Brazilian Jiujitsu launched by Ed Beneville, a black belt in this art.

Unlike previous books written about Brazilian Jiujitsu, the series co-authored by Beneville was the first not trying to cover everything about the art in a single volume but choosing instead the much more realistic goal of focusing on a single aspect in depth. After partnering with fellow black belt and author of several martial arts books Tim Cartmell for Passing the Guard in 2003, Beneville went on to enlist as coauthor Joe Moreira, one of the pioneers of Brazilian Jiujitsu in the United States, who is a fierce competitor and instructor in both judo as well as jujutsu. The two authored The Guard in 2005, and now the present volume, Strategic Guard, in 2008.

The main focus of this third volume is on the defensive components of the guard, one of the most essential fighting positions of Brazilian Jiujitsu. Whereas most instructional books and DVDs about the guard give the lion’s share of the attention to submission and sweeping techniques, Strategic Guard is primarily dedicated to teaching techniques for returning to the guard when the opponent is in the process of passing it. Without a doubt, submission and sweeping techniques are the most exciting elements of the art and form the essence of its offensive strategy.

What Strategic Guard teaches, on the other hand, is a perhaps less flamboyant but equally important part of the jujutsu game.

The book is divided in eleven chapters. The first presents the reader with many techniques to escape from the opponent’s side control either by sweeping him or by returning to the guard position. The second chapter addresses

the topic of escaping from the North and South position. Chapter Three, one of the shortest of the book, teaches how

to use the arms to deflect the opponent’s momentum and prevent him from passing the guard. The fourth chapter is dedicated to the half guard position. The emphasis here is not so much on the sweeps and submissions that are possible from this position, but on getting back to the full guard. The next two chapters demonstrate techniques to defend against loose passes (chapter five) and tight passes (chapter six). In Chapter Seven, Beneville and Moreira turn their attention to countering the combat base—the position achieved by the opponent when he breaks open the guard and brings one knee up. The following chapter instructs the reader in counters against attempts at passing the guard using the underhooks.

Although not many submissions are available to the opponent who is trapped inside the guard, there are still a few techniques—most notably a few chokes and leglocks—that he can employ. Chapter Nine teaches how to

defend against these submissions. In the last two chapters, Moreira and Beneville switch to demonstrating a few offensive techniques: in Chapter Ten we are treated to submission techniques from the sitting guard, while Chapter Eleven offers the reader several sweeping techniques using the underhooks.

Like the two previous volumes in this series, Strategic Guard is beautifully illustrated with hundreds of color pictures. The use of multiple camera angles and the excellent written explanations make it very easy for the reader to grasp the techniques being taught. In order to simplify the understanding of the techniques even further, Strategic Guard utilizes colored arrows to indicate the direction of the fighters’ movement and give a more dynamic quality to the photos.

The glossy quality of the paper also contributes to the refined look of the text. One innovation compared to previous volumes in this series can be seen in the use of thumbnail technique summaries at the end of each chapter. This is an

excellent idea, and it helps the reader remember the various techniques shown throughout the chapter by looking at a single page.

Whereas The Guard, the second volume in the series, was mostly relevant to grapplers wearing the gi—the standard uniform of judo and Brazilian Jiujitsu—the techniques taught in this volume are—save a few exceptions—applicable to both gi and non-gi grappling. Another aspect contributing to the wide appeal of this book is the fact that it demonstrates techniques that range from the very basic to the advanced.


Overall, Strategic Guard is a perfect sequel to one of the best instructional series about Brazilian Jiujitsu.

This is the third in a series that Mr. Ed Beneville has written on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

This latest book is probably one of the best books on the guard that one can read and study.

For those of you who are interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Sambo, or the grappling arts this is a must book for your martial arts library. It is full of valuable information, knowledge, and techniques, that will help you in your quest for being a better jiujitsuka, judoka, samboist or wrestler.

The book itself is very will made and it is a work of art. Besides being a beautiful book, it is full of action photos that are easy to understand.

This author who has been in the martial arts over a half a century highly recommends it.

Norman Leff

Menkyo Kaiden Shihan

Tadamori Ryu Ju-Jutsu


This third book in the series builds on the strengths of the first two. While the casual observer of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu may be dazzled by the flash of flying arm-bars and triangles, the technician is drawn in by the fine details of the ground game - positioning, base, control. Joe and Ed have produced another book that will improve your understanding of the ground game considerably. Having had these techniques applied to me by these guys and their training partners,and having used them myself, for over ten years I know they work. Brute force and speed can only take a player so far. The techniques in this book bring out the finesse and beauty of BJJ. Collect all three books, study, and then train hard.


Fountain Valley, Ca.

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