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How to Pass the Guard in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

Updated on September 30, 2014

There are many variations of the guard position in BJJ, and the number is increasing as a result of the art’s culture of innovation. Sometimes though you have to take a step back and make sure that you don’t miss the forest for the trees.

That's why this article was written. The intent is to give you a basic conceptual overview of guard passing, and it is geared towards white belts. I hope it aids you in speeding up your trajectory towards mastery.

Example of a Tight Pass (Wilson)

Neutralize the Hips

At a fundamental level, you have to accomplish one of two things to pass the guard. You either have to quickly move past your opponent’s hips or you have to control their hips and smash through their guard.

These are the two categories that encompass all passes.You can use one or the other, but it is more effective to blend the two.

Loose Passing

These are passes that fall into that first category of quickly moving past the hips. They depend on speed and agility, and generally they are useful when your opponent is playing open guard and you are standing.

Tight Passing

There are three leverage points that can be focused on to establish some control over the hips. They are the ankles, the knees, and hip itself. Now the situation dictates which of those three areas should be focused on, but ultimately the goal is the same. Control must be established.

Fundamentally, tight passes work by pinning the hips to one side, and then either through the space or pressure passing to the side opposite the direction of the hips. The pass starts and finishes with control, and the hips are the focus.


Control the Head

Biomechanically, the body cannot rotate in the direction opposite the way that the head is facing. So another concept to think about is controlling the head since it can make passes more effective.

An example of that are knee cuts from top half guard which is a tight pass. By using your shoulder to rotate the head away from the direction you want to pass, the pass becomes significantly more difficult to stop.

How to Think About Concepts

There are countless numbers of techniques when it comes to passing and learning them all is a life long journey. The thing is that there are common elements that bind the techniques together, and that is the concept for why they work. This is just a brief overview of some passing concepts, but when you understand the concept you can apply it across the spectrum and improve that much quicker.

Mastering the Guard Pass and Its Submissions (Master Sauer Book 1)
Mastering the Guard Pass and Its Submissions (Master Sauer Book 1)

I've had the pleasure of attending one of Pedro Sauer, and his knowledge is extraordinary. Take advantage of that knowledge by reading this book and improving your technique.



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    • KBEvolve profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Brown 

      5 years ago from United States

      At some point, I'm probably going to go more in-depth about the fundamental concepts of passing. That's where I'm currently focused in my development.

    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 

      5 years ago from California, United States of America

      Very instructive piece, very useful. I like how you mentioned controlling the head; if you control the head, you can control a lot of things the opponent does or doesn't do.

    • KBEvolve profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Brown 

      6 years ago from United States

      Are you practicing a dead science? Hm. Yeah, I can't answer that question. I have no experience with Kenpo, but what matters is whether or not you enjoy learning that martial art.

      Its popularity is of no consequence.

    • lilyfly profile image

      Lillian K. Staats 

      6 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

      O.K., JB, why do I not see Kenpo at all anymore? Am I practicing a dead science? Thanks, lily


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