Over the past month I have been drilling a lot of guard passes with Coach Alder of 10th Planet Van Nuys fame. Over this month many of us have had breakthroughs when it comes to our guard passing game. In this month’s article I wanted to share with you 3 simple tips that helped take my guard passing game from being a joke to something that now I feel very confident in.
1. Control the Hips
One of the biggest eye opening moments to me when I was learning guard passes was to control the hips. I used to try and pass my opponent’s guard without controlling the hips and constantly found myself back in my opponent’s guard within a few seconds. At first I wasn’t really sure why this was happening. I mean I had cleared the legs….that’s all a guard pass is right? Wrong. What I was messing up was controlling my partner’s hips. When passing it is important that I shut down all of my partner’s offense. If I leave his hips open he has options. He can shrimp, get butterfly hooks, move away from me to create space etc. Controlling the hips kills these movements. With proper hip control my partner’s only option when I pass his guard is to sit there and get squashed. So what was the big turning point for me? That brings me to tip #2
2. Climb The Gym Rope
Coach Alder likes to use this analogy a lot when discussing Jiu Jitsu. Back in the day when students had to climb the rope in gym class no one tried to jump up the rope….Well no one sane at least. Everyone employed a one hand at a time technique. You grab the rope with your left hand and then you grab it with your right. No one every tried to let go of the rope and grab with both hands at the same time. The same can be said about guard passing. Many of us who are struggling with our guard passing are trying to jump up the rope. We shove the legs down and jump into side control without worrying about the hips. We do a really cool looking fly over pass but never bother to keep pressure on our opponents. When passing the guard there are a lot of mini games that must be completed prior to winning the trophy.
3. Keep Heavy Pressure
When I first wast trying to learn how to pass the guard one of my biggest mistakes was not keeping heavy pressure. I would constantly try to use my speed (or lack there of) and move around my partner’s legs. One day after rolling with a black belt he opened up my eyes to something that has helped my guard passing go up immensely. He told me that when I pass the guard I should keep heavy pressure on my opponent. Using heavy pressure allows me to trap my partner’s legs and hips and pin him to the ground. By pinning my partner I don’t give him any opportunities to get his guard back. Now there are some guard passes where you can use speed instead of pressure but for a guy like me I prefer to use pressure. Even on passes like the knee slice pass, I have found that it works better when I apply heavy pressure on my opponent because it takes away his defense.
So that’s it! Three small tips that have helped me over the years learn how to pass the guard. Now I’m not saying I am a guard passing expert. On the contrary! I still find myself frustrated at times because I can’t pass my partner’s guard. What gives me hope though is that the more practice I get on passing the guard the better I get. Guard passing is one of those things in jiu jitsu that takes time. I can watch a whole two hour dvd on really cool guard passes but still never be able to hit them. It is important to learn the concepts and mini games behind guard passing first and then move onto the actual passes. Without this knowledge you will never truly have a great guard passing game. With that being said if anyone wants to drill some of these concepts hit me up at 10th Planet Van Nuys!