What kind of guard passer are you?
We tend to gravitate toward particular methods of passing from the inception of our training. This may be heavily influenced by our instruction, body type, etc. Regardless, everyone tends to cozy up to the methods that serve them best.
Are you a fan of loose style passing? Torreando, X-pass, a fast knee cut? Or do you prefer to settle in and overwhelm your opponents with heavy pressure? Maybe you love the smash pass or the over under, or perhaps getting tight in the half guard and working to pass from there is your cup of tea.
Let’s talk about these tight passing methods today. Let’s discuss some of the best methods to steamroll your opponents and make them wish they would have never engaged. This type of passing can be demoralizing at times and it can make you feel helpless and immobilized. Who doesn’t want to know how to do that?
I was once lucky enough to train with Bernardo Faria. As we slapped hands, I was excited to feel what is perhaps some of the greatest pressure to ever be used in BJJ. I felt just that. Shortly after the beginning of the match it felt as if I was an infant. I spent the entire match lying flat on my back, while Faria demonstrated what I can only describe as what it might feel like to have a blanket of led draped over your entire body. My efforts to escape and defend were futile. After doing what I could to ease the pressure and try to mount some type of defense my stint underneath Faria ended with the application of a phenomenal omoplata.
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Being a smaller practitioner, I had not given quite as much thought to pressure style passing. I guess I sort of lumped it in to a passing style that served the larger players. But upon some study, I realized that mechanics are and placement of weight are everything. Sure, size doesn’t hurt, but we can’t make excuses for bad technique.
Let’s take a look at a couple of methods of tight passing. We’ll get some insight as to how some of the best pressure passers choose to run their opponents over and secure the guard pass.
Let’s start with the master of pressure himself, Bernardo Faria. In this video, Bernardo Faria shares with us his flagship principles on how to pass with pressure, making this a perfect place to start. Have a look!
Leading with a very important concept, Faria first shows us how he distributes his weight with a very simple demonstration. This may seem obvious, but this principle may also be commonly overlooked. Faria positions his body in a few different ways to show the distribution of weight. We can clearly see here that the most devastating form of positioning, and the one where our partner will have to bear the most weight, is the final position that’s shown. Faria’s knees are disconnected from the floor and he’s loaded all of his weight onto his shoulder. With his hips in the air, a tremendous amount of downward pressure is created and the bottom player must carry all of the weight.
Using the over under passing position as an example, Faria places his body in position as before, but now with the assistance of a body. You can see that by turning his right hip down and raising his backside a bit contributes to the large amount of downward pressure.
Just as a side note, I’ve witnessed this demonstration firsthand. When Faria asked for a partner to help demonstrate, I pointed out one of my good friends and fellow instructors. As Faria began to demonstrate it was incredibly clear that there was an extremely high level of discomfort manifesting itself within my friend. It was almost comical. Every time Faria stopped to talk, I thought my dear friend may perish during the instruction.
IN the second example, Faria chooses a stack pass, and validates the exact same configuration of the body for a different technique. The positioning is identical.
In the final instance, Faria begins with a loose pass, the toreando. But as we know, regardless of what passing style we choose, we will at some point need to get tight to our partner and beat the legs. As Faria circles around to complete the toreando, you guessed it, he drops directly into the same passing posture as the two previous techniques.
This is a great intro in to how we can make the most pressure possible with our bodyweight. Keep this in mind as we move forward.
Our next technique comes to us from “The King” Gordon Ryan. Ryan has been passing the best guards in BJJ since he broke onto the scene and has subsequently given us an inside look at his passing game with a new instructional. What I love about Ryan’s material is that he shows us how to link different style of passing together. It seems Ryan is comfortable in any passing setting, and has no trouble moving between them seamlessly y to get the job done.
Since were focusing on pressure style passes, let’s take a look at a body lock pass from Ryan and see how he chooses to apply his pressure to the bottom player. Check it out!
In this scenario the exchange begins in half guard and the bottom player has opted to come up for an under hook. Ryan takes advantage of this action by acquiring his own under hook on his partners near side. Ryan then sucks his partner in a bit as to not bury his hand, and achieves a body lock. He gives us a couple different methods of clasping our hands together depending on the state of our wrist health, but seems to suggest the under-hook hand be palm down, to put the maximum amount of pressure on our partner.
From here Ryan begins to load his weight on to his partner and places his head to the far side. He’ll be passing to the right since he’s secured an under hook with his left arm. As Ryan drives his head toward the floor for a base, he pommels his free instep to the inside of his partners guard and uses it to pry his other foot free. He then performs a windshield wiper motion with his trailing leg to transition to side control. This windshield wiper motion will also block his partner from turning toward him to begin the recomposing of the guard. He establishes a cross face and settles in.
Simple, effective, heavy pressure. Great stuff here!
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Our next segment comes to us from Lachlan Giles. Here he discusses and demonstrates a body lock pass that begins a bit lower down on the body than Ryan’s. I have never been good at this particular pass, but I know some people that are, and when it’s done properly it feels incredibly restricting. Let’s take a look at what Giles has to say about this smashing style pass. Have a look!
Beginning in the butterfly guard, Giles hand fights a bit before performing a diving style entry into the position, which he refers to as almost a wrestling shot. This gets his momentum moving forward and hurdles him into position to begin his pass.
Giles locks a tight wrist to wrist grip low on the hips and near to the side he’ll be passing to. At first, Giles is looking to his left and keeping his head planted firmly in the center of his partners torso. Giles sucks everything in nice and tight, keeping his partner from freeing the passing side leg and foiling his plans of passing. From here, Giles removes his right leg from his partners butterfly hook by straightening his leg and flattening it to the ground. This makes the use of his partner’s instep as a tool to elevate almost impossible. He steps wide with his passing side leg and makes incremental movements forward until he can clear his partners knee with his own.
As Giles wins the battle for the knee line, he now changes the position of his body, placing his head on the chest and switching his gaze to the other side. His left hip turns down as he tucks his knee tight to his partners hip. Giles partner will now more than likely close the half guard, but with both knee lines beaten Giles can simply pommel his let instep to the inside of his partner’s guard (very similar to the finish of Gordon Ryan’s variation) and remove his trapped leg. From here there are many options where transitions are concerned and Giles can pick whichever one suits the scenario best.
Let’s move on t a more traditional style smash pass with Craig Jones. I love this particular variation. Jones is very detail oriented and there are some excellent bits of information here that you may have overlooked in your study of smash style passing. I personally feel that smash pass is a bit tougher in a no gi setting, because of the absence of the grips we have in the gi, so making sure you have all your ducks in a row is of great importance. Check this out!
Jones begins in a headquarters style position, squatting down to cover his partner’s legs. Initiating the pass with a fake knee cut, Jones creates a reaction from his partner that creates just the right scenario to begin his smash pass. By pushing the knee to the opposite side, it gives his partner incentive to move in the direction that Jones wishes to pass. This is a great way to begin and bait your partner in to helping you begin passing.
Jones takes advantage of this moment and floats out to his right, landing in a sprawling style posture, with his left leg splitting his partner’s legs. He finds and controls his partner’s near side triceps in order to cause him to flatten out. As his lifts the elbow, Jones moves forward. At this juncture his partners bottom leg may give him some trouble if he tries to pass directly into the mount. To make sure his path is unobstructed, Jones walks his left knee (the one splitting the legs) back behind his partner. By moving the bottom leg this will in turn pull the top leg in to a position where it is no longer in Jones’ way. With the legs cleared, Jones can now tuck his right shin tight to his partners body and careful step over in to the mount with nothing blocking the transition.
In an alternate finish Jones uses his instep to dig under his partners top leg. He then replaces it with his hand and transitions to the backside of his partner. From here Jones he can choose to settle in to side control or possibly take the back if his partner chooses to turn away from him. Excellent stuff!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the content here. We’ve seen several examples of how some of today’s elite players pass at the highest levels. There is a ton of information here to help turn your smash passing efforts into a force to be reckoned with.
As you delve deeper in to the smash passing realm, keep the themes of the first video with Bernardo Faria in mind. Those basic principles can be carried in to almost any smash pass setting. If you remembered only those concepts from this particular set of techniques you would be way better off than you were previously. I hope this helped you as much as it helped me! Happy smash passing!
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