This video demonstrates one of my favorite drills for enhancing the guard and developing strong thighs and abdominal muscles.
Approach heavy bag and grip the top of the bag. Jump as high as you can and close the guard. Gently let yourself down until your hands touch the ground, then sit up. To make more difficult, wear a weight-vest.
Note: You MUST have bare skin touching the bag. Do this with pants on and you will slid right down, especially if you use a slick leather bag. Even with bare skin, if you are not sweaty you may find it difficult to perform more than couple of reps at a time without sliding.
I very rarely close my guard. I feel like there is little you can do
with a closed guard except stall, so I immediately open mine after
securing the position. I like to keep one leg in a high position across
the back of the neck and the other towards the lower back. In this
position, I can move swiftly into the rubber guard (and all the
subsequent positions) or move that bottom foot to the hip to initiate a
sweep or submission. A lot of beginners tend to lock down the guard,
which makes sense, but I find they do so in order to stall or rest,
which is not necessarily a bad thing. There are many resources to explore for using the closed guard, but as a personal preference, I like to keep mine open.
Although a closed guard is employed to gain control from
the open, an open guard does not necessarily mean your opponent can
easily escape. The key is to keep your opponent controlled within the
guard while you begin to set up submissions and sweeps. Thus, it is
important to have strong inner thigh and core muscles to build a strong
Although I am definitely crossing my feet
during this sit-up, it takes an inordinate amount of leg strength to
keep your body suspended in the air on the heavy bag. Closing the guard
during this exercise is required; I doubt anyone could stay up without
doing so. However, after working this drill into your repertoire for
several weeks, you will find your thighs and abs noticeably stronger and
your open guard more difficult to escape.