Turtle position guard or not?

One of the biggest and most debated topics in the BJJ community is the turtle position. There are two big arguements about this position.
1) Is it an actual guard?
2) If it gets used as a guard how do we score it in tournaments?

In my opinion for a position to be considered a guard, it must fit three requirements:
1) It must start from a defensive standpoint.
2) You must be able to defend yourself AND launch attack.
3) It must have at least one(1) self-defense application.
4) You must have a way to control your opponent/enemy.

So let's see if turtle is a legitimate guard. On your knees not being able to see your enemy sounds pretty defensive to me. Your hands and elbows can keep you from taking punches and knees flush and you have access to kneebars, toeholds, kimuras, armbars, wristlocks and a boatload of sweeps. So that's points one and two covered.

On to point 3 and 4 Self-defense application: When you turtle on the street you roll away immediately and sit to full guard or half-guard complete a sweep or apply a given submission and RUN. Please DO NOT take this post as an advocation for turtle guard use on the street. I actually don't advocate ANY guard for street use guard should be used on as needed on the street NEVER willingly go there. Don't think you'll end up there on the street? Take a shot to the abdomen 9 out of 10 times you'll fall to your knees. Control: Any good turtle player will keep his/her arms outside the opponent's arms, frame the hip or hook the leg.

In tournaments, the person on top gets an advantage for forcing a turtle. The most common example is when the top player(person on top for my non-bjjers/grapplers) is passing the closed guard of the bottom player(person on bottom for non-bjjers/grapplers) the person on bottom will turtle to prevent the top person from scoring points. Therefore, earning an advantage. By that logic alone turtle is a guard simply because the bottom player was so far behind that he got passed yet the top player didn't actually score because he is in a position of complete control. Or is over/under control enough to warrant points? I say no, simply because over/under actually gives the turtle player access to a sweep. (Tip to guys on top sit immediately after you grip or you're going for a ride) The problem comes in on the bottom if the bottom player rolls the top person and secures side control(which is a controlled transition from the bottom to the top. a sweep by definition) why are there no sweep points? He never scored for passing my guard so is not still dealing with guard? It's the same as passing to half-guard getting an advantage then being swept why does I'd get points for that so why not turtle?

Some say turtle sweeps don't use the legs therefore isn't a guard and it shouldn't score. Some turtle sweeps do use the leg hook a kneebar is NOT the only option there. And is that even really fair, all BJJ players don't have the same mobility so saying because it doesn't use the legs it shouldn't count. That's like penalizing the guy with no arms because he sat down without touching his opponent. What did you expect him to do? Now the second part of this question is how does the top guy score? The same way he always has, he advances his position by moving to the next one which is obviously the backmount.

So is turtle a guard I say yes. Now you decide

Until next time.


  1. Being a beginning grappler I'm not familiar with the turtle as an offensive position really-- unless someone sticks their arm inside and gets armbarred, and I have seen kneebars from there if you put your knee down between the turtle's legs.

    Have any youtube or other videos you recommend to see what you're talking about? Thanks!

  2. Georgette search Eduardo Telles on youtube. That guy is the MASTER of the turtle position. And if you can buy his DVD its gold, it changed my game completely.


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