The hardest skill for beginning students to learn – Guard retention: There are many skills that a first beginning Jiu Jitsu must start to learn. While none of them are easy to apply on a resisting opponent, there is one that always seems to be especially difficult – this is the skill of maintaining your guard (keeping your legs between you and your opponent) as your opponent works to pass your guard (get past your legs and into an upper body pin). Nothing really prepares you for this. While some physical attributes such as flexibility help to a degree, they won’t allow a beginner to hold off a more advanced partner for even a respectable amount of time. This is not good news, as THE ENTIRE BOTTOM GAME OF JIU JITSU IS BASED AROUND YOU ABILITY TO GET TO GUARD AND STAY THERE LONG ENOUGH TO MAKE EFFECTIVE ATTACKS. I always felt that was probably the most poorly taught subject matter in Jiu Jitsu. Too often people with excellent guard retention are seen as physically talented, as though physical attributes were the main reason why they were good at guard retention, rather than having a sound game plan and set of skills, tactics and knowledge that made them effective. So what can we do to improve this situation? I believe the first big step in the right direction is to begin teaching guard retention in a way that reflects the way the game is actually played. Guard PASSING is among the fastest and most dynamic aspects of BJJ. There are constant feints, push/pull action/reaction movements, switching sides, combined attacks etc. In this fast moving atmosphere where you can go from being safe and comfortable and then one second later be in total crisis mode with an opponent almost past your guard, it pays to have a guard retention methodology that reflects this dynamic nature. As such, I greatly favor a conceptual approach that gives useful, broadly applicable rules of behavior in response to guard passing threats that are loose and flexible enough to be workable in fast changing and chaotic situations. This is a big topic and I will be coming back to it quite often as it will determine how successful you are in bottom position on the