The Rubber Guard system is controversial because many people feel like it requires extreme flexibility, and without the flexibility, it can lead to injury.
Understanding the Rubber Guard
1️⃣ Mobility requirements: The goal is to get one leg high on the back of the opponent to keep the opponent from getting proper posture. This requires a high degree of hip flexion, adduction and external rotation. When one lacks sufficient range of motion then generally another area must compensate.
2️⃣ Flexibility vs Mobility: Flexibility is defined as passive motion while mobility is defined as active motion. Passive motion almost always exceeds active motion. The problem here is you may be able to pull your leg into position but lack active control of that range. This clinching guard’s goal is to hold an unwilling opponent in the position. Without the active control you are relying on stability from hip capsule, ligaments, and labrum, while they are trying to escape the position. With active control you can use muscles to de-load the stress on the hip.
3️⃣ Potential injury: Often with a lack of hip mobility the area that gets injured is the knee. The knee can straighten, bend and rotate but cannot side bend. Insufficient hip mobility often forces the practitioner to put unnecessary stress on the ligaments that resist side bending. Which can lead to injury.
Overall, having flexibility/mobility will help with this position, however, if someone lacks the mobility, they can hip out which decreases the demand for hip mobility.
Generally this system is safe and when used appropriately it can be very effective. The trouble comes when people try to force positions that their body cannot tolerate.
Dr. Mike Piekarski, DPT
BJJ Brown Belt
Former MMA Fighter