If you watch a jiu-jitsu match between 2 evenly matched opponents, chances are that most of the match will be one trying to pass the guard of the other. Many tournament matches are decided by the 3 points from the guard pass.
There are many different guard styles:
De la Riva & reverse DLR
Butterfly guard…and on it goes.
Fortunately, there are some tips that a jiu-jitsu student can apply to all guard passing scenarios that will “hack” your guard passing.
1) Posture and base #1
You will be hard pressed to find hilite videos of posture in the guard, but if you don’t have proper posture…you don’t have anything!
Your number one priority in passing your opponent’s guard is to NOT get swept or submitted.
The majority of guard submission attacks like chokes or triangles involve the attacker breaking the posture of the opponent. Your job is to maintain a strong posture to avoid your neck or arms being put in.danger.
Secondly, you must maintain your base and balance. If you ignore proper balance and are over enthusiastic in trying to pass you will get swept to the bottom.
* Tip – If your opponent is stopping your pass and starting to compromise your posture and base, you need to stop, reset your posture to a safe position before resuming the pass.
2) Pass to both left and right
If you observe rolls in the academy, 90% of the students pass to their left 90% of the time. Your favorite knee slice pass might be better to the left but guess what? Your opponent has also spent 90% of his guard playing time defending that side! The guard player is also really sharp on your left.
However, if you develop some of your passes to your weaker right side you will discover that your opponent’s guard suddenly doesn’t feel as strong and your ability to pass has increased.
Don’t be a left side only guard passer. Still passes also to your right.
3) Break grips and hooks
If we reverse engineer the different guard styles, we find that each guard has specific combinations of grips (ex. collar grip) and hooks (ex. Butterfly hook) that are used to control the guard position.
As the guard passer, you must remove the hooks and break the controlling grips in order to pass. The guard player uses the grips to break your posture and block your ability to pressure your weight on them. They use hooks to impede your movement and entangle your arms and legs. Trying to pass against a guard that has solid hooks and grips is exhausting and usually ends in a sweep!
You must be patient. First get your posture and base and then remove the hooks and break the grips before you start your pass.
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam