Can You (Should You) Pull Guard in Judo?

If you read about Judo, then you’ll know that it has its roots in Jiu-Jitsu. However, over the last century or so, and particularly with the introduction of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the two sports have been diverging. It’s OK to pull guard in Jiu-Jitsu but how does this technique measure up in Judo?

You can pull guard in Judo but you shouldn’t! In judo, we have alternative tactics to pulling guard that are far more effective on the mat.

Let’s see what pulling guard is exactly, what the alternatives in judo are, and why they are better.

Can you pull guard in judo? -
Can you pull guard in judo? –

What Does It Mean To Pull Guard And How Do You Do It?

The term “pull guard” originates in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and it’s a strategy that people employ to take a match straight to the ground. The idea is that when someone moves into your guard, you pull them down. Hence “pull guard”.

Now, we’d like to point out that there is a related technique known as “jump guard” where you jump into the air at the same moment as you pull someone inside your guard down. We’d also like to reinforce the idea that this is incredibly dangerous and if you want to really hurt yourself or your fight partner – this is a great way to about it.

There are many ways to pull guard depending on the position that you are in and that of your opponent. The most common of which can be seen in this video below:

This is a simple and safe way to get started with pulling guard. If you want to learn additional techniques, we’d recommend working with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu approved instructor.

Why Is It A Bad Idea To Pull Guard In Judo?

As we’ve said before, Judo is not Jiu-Jitsu. That means that you’re unlikely to see anyone pull guard in a competitive match.

If your opponent were to lean into your pull and push you to the ground in Judo, you would automatically be considered, by a competent referee, to have been thrown for ippon. That is, you would have lost the match immediately.

If that doesn’t happen, you still lose as you will be given a penalty for “unskillful entry to newaza” because you’re not just allowed to drag someone down to the mats.

Finally, there’s the issue that if you do get the guy inside your guard, they can simply stall until the referee resets you both again.

This means that while you could, technically, pull guard in Judo, you wouldn’t want to. You can, however, see it happen occasionally when Jiu-Jitsu practitioners who are also involved in Judo get confused between the two martial arts.

There is an exception to this rule – Kosen Judo – which allows for pulldowns and takedowns from the legs. You may see someone pull guard in Kosen Judo because of this.

You can get a feel for how Kosen Judo works in this video of a class taking place in Kyoto University in Japan.

5 Techniques You Can Use In Judo To Avoid Pulling Guard

So, if you can’t pull guard but you’d like to achieve a similar effect that doesn’t get you disqualified in a competitive match, what can you do?

Well, the good news is that there are plenty of options for throws that get your opponent off balance without sacrificing your own standing in a match. Including these 5 popular judo techniques:

Yoko Tomeo Nage

This is the judo move that is closest to pulling guard. If you get it wrong, it also has the most similar consequences to pulling guard. If your opponent lands on you during this throw you’re still going to be considered as thrown for ippon and the match will be over.

Yoko Tomeo Nage requires grips that are the same as those used in pull guard. You go for the collar, sleeve, and put the foot in the hip in exactly the same fashion. The difference, however, is in the way that you follow through.

You can see how this works in the video shown below.

One thing you’re going to want to know is that if this technique doesn’t take your opponent down, it’s very easy to flow into a guard position of your choice without leaving yourself open.

If you’re going to go with Yoko Tomeo Nage in a competitive match, you always need to balance the risks of being thrown for ippon before you decide to go for it.

Deashi Harai

If you already have some experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, then you’ll know that this move is one that Judo shares from their common heritage.

There are many variants of this sweep and for the most common you need a firm grip on your opponent while facing them. You then move your foot to the opposite side of your opponent’s (in either direction) and sweep the leg out. You use your upper body to provide the power for the move along with a rotation of your hips.

We love this technique for its subtlety, if you time it right, then it’s highly unlikely that your opponent will even know it’s underway until too late. It also shares the same grips as the pull guard technique.

As you can see from the video above, when you do this right – it offers you a large amount of control in your choice of follow up move.

Ouchi Gari

You’re going to want a few years of experience in Judo before you try to tackle an Ouchi Gari takedown. It requires a bit of delicate footwork to deliver the impact that it’s expected to.

You use the right leg to reap the opponent’s left leg and pull them down.

However, once you get that right – it’s quite simple to execute and because it uses a set of grips that are similar to other throws, you can always choose a different forward throw when you’re in position for an Ouchi Gari.

Just make sure you don’t accidentally kick your opponent in the crotch when you execute this move, it won’t make you very popular in your local Judo community if you do.

Sumi Gaeshi

This is one of the 40 traditional throws of Judo and was developed by the founder of the Judo movement Dr. Jigoro Kano. It is still one of the 67 permitted throws on Kodokan Judo to this very day.

You grab below the collar, plant the knee/foot in the opposite upper thigh and then roll backward propelling yourself forward using the opponent’s momentum. It leads naturally into a large number of grapples, holds and extensions.

Ude Geashi

Ude Gaeshi is a variant of Yoko Warare which was also one of the traditional 40 throws. It is an arm turn or arm reversal. It’s not just used in Judo, either, you can find it in Aikido too.

You push the opponent until they push back. Then at the moment of your maximum push- you drop to the pat close to the opponent and in a perpendicular position. As you drop, you pull the opponent over you and drop them to the ground.

This is a “sacrifice throw” because it places you in a vulnerable position and thus requires good timing to have the proper effect.

You can see how to do an Ude Geashi effectively here:


It is possible to pull guard in Judo if you’re not fighting competitively. However, there is never a good reason to pull guard in a Judo competition – a good referee is going to ensure that the technique is either ineffective or worse costs you the fight completely.

It is a better idea to use an effective Judo technique in a situation where you might be tempted to pull guard, unless of course, you are in a Kosen Judo match where you can pull guard to your heart’s content.

We offer 5 simple alternatives to pulling guard including Yoko Tomeo Nage, Deashi Harai, Ouchi Gari, Sumi Gaeshi and Ude Geashi. Each of these options is going to allow you to deliver a similar effect without putting your control of the bout in doubt.

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