Passing the guard is one of those things you can never practice enough.
It is literally the path from disadvantage to advantage. But it’s also one of those skills that we would rather skip over so that we can get to the “good stuff.”
For those of you who want a well-rounded game, Gabriel Gonzaga demonstrates a jumping guard break that he follows with a knee cut.
In this video, Gonzaga begins in his opponent’s guard. He first grips his opponent’s gi with his right hand while he works his elbow between himself and his opponent’s right leg. However, instead of passing on the ground, Gonzaga stands to pass.
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He prefers to jump into a standing position because it adds an element of surprise to his game. As he readies himself to jump to his feet, he leans forward and puts his weight on his opponent. Pushing against his opponent’s chest, Gonzaga jumps to his feet.
Once Gonzaga reaches his feet, his opponent’s closed guard is bearing all of his weight. This makes it much easier for Gonzaga to break his closed guard and begin to pass.
Gonzaga controls his opponent’s right knee with his left hand and then slices his right thigh with his own right shin. Gonzaga notes that he must be careful not to allow his head to move too far ahead of his passing knee. If he does, he will become unbalanced. When he keeps his head above his knee, he maintains his balance much more easily.
After slicing across his opponent’s right thigh, Gonzaga’s next concern is not finishing the pass but establishing control over his opponent’s upper body by getting the underhook. Gonzaga also uses his left hand to control his other arm. The aim is to keep his opponent’s back to the mat.
Now, Gonzaga is free to finish passing his opponent, knowing that he has already established control over his upper body.
He warns us, however, that we do not want to overflow and bring his head too far onto his opponent’s other side. Instead, he focuses on bringing his hip down to the floor. Again, here, Gonzaga’s focus is on maintaining his balance and now putting himself in a position where he is vulnerable to a sweep.
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Gonzaga offers a few final thoughts on this guard pass. First, he notes that you must be comfortable working from a position centered over your opponent to execute this guard break.
Next, he warns us not to jump forward so that our feet are within our opponent’s reach. If they are, our opponent can grab them and easily sweep us. We should never jump so that our feet move closer to our opponent’s head. Ideally, when we jump our feet should land no closer to our opponent than they were when we were kneeling. In fact, Gonzaga quickly backs up after jumping to his feet to increase the strain on his opponent’s closed guard as well as keeping his legs out of reach.
For Gonzaga’s full demonstration, see the video below:
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