Guard Passing

Uncategorized | 0 comments



April 6, 2018

by Prof. Martin Guggi


Thinking about BJJ every day and teaching this amazing Art to my students is amazing for me. For me as an instructor I see the biggest challenge in breaking the principals and techniques down for them and teach in a systematic, methodical way. This makes it easier for my students to absorb the techniques and get better in a shorter period of time.

The problem is that there are so many fields which you should master. You do not need to master all of them but you have to know at least a little bit about the specific of the certain situation.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu:

Positions 1.      Mount

2.      Backmount

3.      Sidemout

4.      Guard



1.      Close Guard

2.      Open Guards

Spider Guard

Lasso Guard

Collar and Sleeve


X Guard

Half Guard

              Deep Half Guard

Passes 1.      Pass Close Guard

2.      Pass Open Guard

3.      Pass before any contact – speed Passing

Takedowns 1.      Throw

2.      Clinch

3.      Guardpull

Leglocks 1.      Straight Ankle Lock

2.      Heelhook

3.      Toe  Hold

4.      Kneebar


Because of this big amount of situations our methodical way of teaching needs to be precise to save a time.



We know already that we have a positional hierarchy in BJJ! We also know that we have a Guard hierarchy in BJJ – starting with the Guard forms where you control more distance. If you do not know about them please check out our other articles. We also know that we could use mini systems to get the submission – e.g. Kimura Trap System, Straight Jacket System, Ashi Garami System. All of these sub systems have the control in common to get the submission.

You often hear “Position before Submission” – but this is wrong because you limit yourself to positions! It is “Control before Submission”!!!! (John Danaher)

If you know how to control your opponent then you get closer to the submission. But we can never forget, that a position can bring you points – according to the rule set – Ashi Garami Systems or Kimura Trap not – but your chances are bigger to get the submission.

But today I want to focus on Guard passing to make it easier to understand and to have a guide to follow when you train!


PASSING Situations:

Before we start we need to address the differences between the situations when to use guard passing.

  1. Guard passing connected to your Takedown
  2. Guard passing after your sweep (Guard pull)
  3. Guard passing when you get stuck in a Guard of your opponent
  4. Cannot attack legs – need to pass!
  5. Guard passing when your partners is in front of you having no connection.


From these Guard situations number 1 and 2 are the most used in a competition. The fight starts and
1. You take your partner down and can pass his guard right away or
2. You pull guard and after you sweep your partner you try to pass right away.
3. If these to plans fail we get stuck in our Partners guard and need to find a way to pass or need to protect our Guard to not get passed and try to get a sweep.  80% of your game we will try to pass or to get a sweep. All these situations can also lead to control and submit right away. If we are allowed to attack the legs, leglocks are very useful.
4. As written before some of these leglock hunters are amazing in leg attacks. In submission only events you do not need to waste your energy trying to pass if you go for leglocks. But because even there people evolve and get so good in defending leglocks that you have to find another way to attack and that’s why you need to connect leglocks with guard passes.
5. When we roll at the gym very often one guy starts on his butt and the other one is standing. This is a save way to train because you start to fight after the takedown but then you will never learn how to take someone down or pull guard. But according to the rules, sitting down is very often possible.


PASSING Distances:

  1. Far Distance/Speed passes
  2. Middle Distance/Guard Situations
  3. Close Distance

When you roll you realize that there are 3 Distances of Passing.

  1. The first one is the far distance. When the opponent is not having control at all. At this situation the partner on the feet controls the pace because he is much faster as the one laying on the back. He is normally the one doing the first move. That’s why I like to call these passes Speed passes. Because of your possibility to move on your feet you are much quicker to change angles and directions.
  2. In the second distance the partner on the back has already control over you and you start to feel any form of open Guard being set up against you. Now the partner on the back starts to get the control and is the one starting to control the fight more. Especially in the Gi it is really hard to pass someone with a strong open guard.
  3. The close distance is the last distance to pass. This happens for example when the partner can set up the close Guard on you and you need to stand up to pass his legs or when you are trapped in bad situations during the roll when he could bring his bodyweight close to you. Normally in half guard or a deep half guard situation. Now you cannot move anymore and need to use the right angle and technique to escape.


5 main PASSING Techniques:

  1. Leg drag
  2. Torreando Pass
  3. Cross Knee Slide
  4. Over/Under Pass
  5. Double Under Pass


These are your main passes which you can connect from almost any Guard forms. Even after you open your partner’s legs in the close Guard you will be able to use these main Guardpasses. If you manage to learn them you will also have the possibility to connect them if one is not working and the partner is defending – use another one of them. (Keenan Cornelius calls this Cain Passing)

I saw my students being confused learning new passes because there are so many of them. But in the end there are only these 5 and of course many variations of them but your body is always doing the same moves which you learn from these 5 basic passes.

  1. The leg drag is more a speed pass, but can be used from so many different situations during the fight to open up space and possibilities to make your partner react.
  2. Torreando Pass can be used with and without the Gi and is very useful when my legs are free to move.
  3. Cross Knee Slide can be used as a speed pass or as connection in the middle range.
  4. Over/Under is definitely one of the most powerful passes. You have two ways to go – over the leg or under the leg. There you also learn how to backstep and to use the backstep move as a surprise.
  5. Double Under is a close distance pass – but very strong if you manage to lift his hips off the mat. If a partner is very flexible it can be very challenging. For flexible people I suggest to use the Over/Under Pass instead to have more options.

I hope I could help to understand the puzzle of the Guard Passes better with this article. If you have any feedback please contact me right away:

Not everyhting i write is developed or created from me. I have to give credits to all my teachers and also from a lot of people i could learn over the internet – John Danaher, Keenan Corlenius, Caio Terra and so many more. I am only standing on the shoulders of these pioniers and i do not want to take any credit for the staff they created. My goal is to put everything together in a way people can learn faster and in a more methodical way. 

Have fun and keep passing!!!



Similar Articles