In Search of No Gi Guard Passing Fundamentals

I watch a lot of instructional videos online and from DVD’s explicitly for the purpose of searching out the few fundamental principles and techniques. I’m a big believer in knowing just a few techniques (1-2 from every position) and then figuring out the dozens of ways to enter into those techniques and also the little details that make them work.

I think that a good instructor is very important in putting you on the right path with a technique. JW’s x-pass is a good example of that for me. But it can’t stop there. It’s up to me to really explore and understand WHY what is supposed to work does work.

I’ve been on that journey in gi for a while with the x-guard, butterly guard, gi chokes, smash pass, x-pass, etc, but in no-gi I’m still a complete newbie in many ways, lost without any real fundamental principles to cling to. I haven’t quite found a guard pass to believe in, and drill the crap out of. This post is just a bunch of videos that I found interesting. The search continues…

Jean Jacques Machado shows some basics. I like the standing pass with wrist control. He also offers some footlock options which I would really like to avoid as (in my mind) that departs from the whole “fundamentals” thing that I’m after. I really like jumping the hips forward when the opponent opens his legs and drops his hips:

Now, here’s a beautiful no-gi x-pass by JT Torres. I just found it, and it clicked. I will definitely have to work this:

Saulo throwing down some philosophy and an excellent explosive pass. What I like is he emphasizes not lingering in the closed guard.

Marcelo shows the jump-over butterfly pass:

And then, Marcelo shows a standing closed guard pass with behind the back wrist control. Looks tricky.

Robson Moura shows an even trickier step-over pass of the butterfly guard:

Mario Sperry shows a pass of the butterfly guard where you loop your arm around and grab the opposite foot:

I’ll start getting reps in on the Saulo, JT, and Marcelo (butterfly) passes and see where that takes me.

0 thoughts on “In Search of No Gi Guard Passing Fundamentals

  1. Pete

    There are two types of passes– technical and athletic. Athletic passes focus less on controlling your opponent’s hips and more on your own explosive movement. Athletic passes can work but technical passes rely on something different– fundamental control of your opponent.

    There is a pattern that the above passes all follow:

    All technical passes follow these principles:

    1. Open legs (opening your opponent’s closed guard or initiating a pass when your opponent is playing an open guard. If his/her aren’t open, you can’t pass).

    2. Control legs (making sure your posture and position prevents your opponent from closing his/her guard again i.e. knee up, stand up, create space, etc).

    3. Control hips (this is the most important step– never look for head or upper body control on your opponent unless you somehow have control of their hips— this is what differentiates an athletic pass from a technical pass. The aim is keep your opponents hips in check while you advance your position. You need to account for his/her ability to shrimp and bridge from this position).

    4. (optional) Head and Upper Body Control (this step is usually necessary if you want to attack once you’ve passed. From head-upper body control you can look for/set up a sub. Move to here only once you’ve established control of your opponents hips and can safely advance without losing top position.)

    Here’s an interesting example: watch Robson’s pass again. At the 53 second mark— if he didn’t pull up on his opponent’s bottom knee before digging for the farside underhook, this would be an athletic pass. But because he controls his opponents hips but compressing his knees together before advancing– it’s a technical pass!

  2. Pete

    The point…

    Understanding and following the above steps are fundamental to having a successful passing game. The passes themselves, you can improvise based on how your opponent reacts to top pressure. The four fundamental passing motions I use are: circle, bind, stack and through– always following the above principles. I move from one pass to the other depending on how my opponent reacts. Keep the pressure consistent and eventually your opponent will get tired and give up the pass. Keeping your opponent flat (not sitting up) is an important aspect of this strategy– it limits his/her offence and makes defensive movements (posting and shrimping with the whole body to recover his/her guard) way harder on the gas tank.

    A great example of a guy that breaks-down his opponents this way is Pablo Popovitch. Another great example is Daniel Valverde.


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