5 Strategies to Better Guard Passing

How do I Get Better at Guard Passing?

If you have been doing BJJ for any length of time you have asked yourself this question!  Rickson Gracie once said, “the guard is the heart and soul of jiu jitsu”.  If you haven’t already noticed, the guard is where you’ll be spending most of your time on the mat.   Whether you are fighting off your back or trying to pass, the guard is one of the most intricate and in-depth positions in the art of jiu jitsu.

5 Strategies to Better Guard Passing

We have identified 5 ways (or approaches if you will) to becoming a better guard passer.  Over the course of our jiu jitsu career we have experience many different guard players.  In the following section we will share 5 ways you can improve your guard passing game.

1.  Be Knowledgeable of all Guard Positions

Even though there are some common principals to passing any guard an understanding of each type (i.e. closed guard, spider guard, half guard, butterfly guard, etc.) will help in ultimately being able to pass someone’s guard.  The more you understand about each type of guard the more you’ll be effective in knowing what the guard player will be looking to achieve in their offense.

2. Control the Legs and Kill the Hips

A universal and fundamental truth about passing any guard is knowing how to control the legs and kill the hips of a guard player.  Once someone is able to fundamentally wrap their head around this principal the sooner they’ll start passing guards.  For example, in this video http://youtu.be/h69WfDJqtgk an example of controlling the legs and killing the hips are demonstrated.  Controlling the legs is sometimes in the form of redirecting or pinning the legs to name a couple.  Killing the hips simply means immobilizing the hips so that the guard player is limited in their movement.  This can be done in numerous ways such using your elbows to limit lateral motion or using your hands to push the hips to the floor, for example.

3.  Standing vs. Kneeling Passing Styles

Generally speaking guard passers can be divided in to two categories, standing or kneeling guard passers.  Players naturally gravitate toward being one or the other.  Each passing style has it pros and cons.  Generally speaking standing passers are less likely to get submitted, however are more likely to get swept.  Where as kneeling passers are more likely to get submitted, but are less likely to get swept.

4. Know your Preference

Depending on your style of jiu jitsu some like to close the distance and have a smashing style passing game.  Where as others prefer a more distant and fast pace style passing game.  Traditional old school jiu jitsu players typically prefer to stay close when they pass the guard.  The “new” style of passing has seen players using distant type passing such as the example with a long step pass like this one -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zeEe7Sd2as

5. Be Relentless

One of the most important factors in passing any guard is being relentless!  Passing guard is one of the hardest tasks to accomplish in jiu jitsu.  Rarely do you get the pass off of your first attempt.  Not only be relentless in your guard passing on the mat, but in your thirst to learn about guards and guard passing off the mat (i.e. videos, seminars, etc.).


I hope that you found these 5 identified areas of guard passing to be useful.  And we hope you can add these to your game immediately and start passing at a higher percentage.  Be sure to leave a comment and your thoughts about this post.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Wake Forest, NC

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About Guy Pendergrass: Co-owner and co-head instructor of Pendergrass Academy of Martial Arts in Wake Forest, NC and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt under Gustavo Machado.  For more information about classes, check out our website at www.PendergrassAcademy.com or call 919-819-1908 today and find out how you can learn more about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and Muay Thai Kickboxing.

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