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an interactive guide to brazilian jiu-jitsu

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March 29th: Half Guard Flat Pass (from Knee Cut)

Sometimes when you attempt the knee cut you'll get caught in Quarter (1/4) Guard and won't be able to free your foot. Good pressure and prying with your free foot will generally rectify the situation and allow you to pass, but some opponents will make this difficult. Some may even counter opponents transitioning with a Knee Bump Single Leg or transition to Deep Half. In order to stay on the offensive, there is a quick switch that can be done to tip the scale in your favor. As you Knee Cut, keep your far side hand anchored to the opponent's lapel close to their hip. With your near side hand, take a grip on the opponents pants, near the knee. In one motion lift and flip your opponent onto their other side, bringing their knee you are gripping in front of you. When this happens, stack on top of their legs with your chest, putting your opponent in a much more vulnerable position as this mitigates their chances of escaping or countering. From here, stay very heavy on the trapped knee and begin to fish for the underhook (on the side your opponent is now facing). Most of the time, your opponent will give it to you as they push off your chest or knee to recover. Once you have the underhook clasp your hands together and free your legs to complete the pass.

Half Guard Flat Pass to Back Take

Sometimes as you attempt the Flat Pass your opponent won't give up the underhook and hand fights you instead of pushing to create space. This can prove annoying, but opens up an opportunity to take your opponents back. Once you realize you won't be able to secure the underhook, grip on your opponent's pants (the top leg) and force it to the mat. Sometimes you will be able to pass from here. Most likely however, your opponent will take a grip on your sleeve since your leg will become free, but that is OK. In one motion, step over your own arm, turn on your side, and with your other hand, take a grip on your opponent's lapel. Keep turning, taking your opponent's back as you secure your hooks and control.

March 12th: Open Guard Passing Basics

When you're opponent is in a Seated Guard position and you are standing your initial point of attack should be to focus on getting your opponent to their back. Your first connection will be at your opponents ankles, whether grabbing by the ankles themselves or establishing a grip with the pants. Once established, lift up, raising your opponents feet into the air. This causes them to either (a) react and base or (b) flattens them on their back. From here look to pass. Sometimes your opponent will continue to roll, doing a back roll until they end in a Turtle position. When this happens, move with your opponent as they go backwards and adjust yourself to either side. Once your opponent rolls over into that Turtled position look to establish a proper Top Side Turtle position, ideally with a seat belt grip.

Generally your opponent isn't just going to easily roll over like that. When this happens you can transition to the traditional "Toreando Pass". As before establish your ankle/pant grips and put your opponent on their back. This time step back to create distance between yourself and your opponent. Simultaneously push your opponents legs to one side (ideally pushing them down into the ground). As you do this, step to the opposite side, which should now be clear from your opponents leg defense as you've pushed them to the other side. Once to their side, look to establish Knee on Belly. Often your opponent will defend with their arms, pushing away in an attempt to get to their side. Good control of the legs can help prevent this from happening.

Your opponent may defend by grabbing your sleeves and keeping their feet close to your elbows. You can use that to your advantage to go around their back side to establish a Top Side Control position. As before begin to push your opponents legs to one side. As they defend, keeping close, switch your momentum to the other side and push your opponents legs down. This will clear way to go around the back. Proceed around and look to establish a good top position from Side Control. Looking to control the head will help in maintaining position as well as prevent from being trapped by your opponent.

January 31st: Half Guard Over-Under Pass to Knee Bar

It should be of no surprise that your opponent will attempt to block your pass by trying to create space between the two of you. Often as you attempt to pass they'll utilize their free leg to push against your face to do so. Sometimes if the leg goes past the face it will continue to your armpit where, again, leverage can be created. This can be especially annoying when you have no answers, but luckily there is one! While your opponent focuses their energy on defense, hook their pinned leg from the outside with your leg. Then triangle your legs together. Scoot your body down until your hips are against your opponents knee and hip in to finish the Knee Bar. While you finish, be aware of your base and try not to get swept in the process. If your opponent turns hard to free their knee you can simple pass as they no longer have any viable hooks.

January 25th: Half Guard Over-Under Pass

The over under pass is a technique that's gained a lot of momentum lately since Bernardo Faria brought it back to the spotlight in 2015. By using specific grips, excellent pressure and beautiful technique you too can pass from the over under without getting triangled! The Over-Under pass starts with establishing a "Four Finger" grip around the end of the pant leg with the arm on the side you are passing to (If you are passing to your left, it will be your left hand controlling). The opposite arm dives underneath your opponents leg while at the same time bringing your head to the opposite hip of your opponent, closing space and keeping pressure.

With your grips and control established sprawl your legs back while at the same time taking your opponents pant leg and pushing it back, flattening their leg. Bring your legs around to the pinned leg side (the side initially aiming to pass) and work towards the torso of your opponent to establish Side Control.

Making sure that you stay close to your opponent and maintain constant pressure on them will increase the likelihood of success with this pass. Bringing your head to the opposite side is important as it helps keep your opponent flattened out. Adding this pass will make your Top Half Guard game that much better.

January 19th: Closed Guard Double Unders Pass

There is a common mantra for passing the Closed Guard referring to the position of your arms that usually goes "2 Arms In / 2 Arms Out". The idea suggests that as soon as one arm is isolated you are immediately susceptible to submissions such as the triangle and armbar. Building on this mantra you will see a benefit in passing your opponent when they attempt to force one of your arms either inside or out. Instead of using pure strength to muscle your arm back in/out you can use your opponent's motion against them. As they push your arm to create "1 Arm In/1 Arm Out", swim your other arm out at the same time (remembering our mantra "2 In/2 Out").

As soon as both arms are in (i.e. underneath opponents legs), clasp your hands together and pull your opponent towards your hips as far close as possible. One possibility is you will flip your opponent backwards and pass, or at the least be in a position to stack them. As this occurs your opponent will resist, trying to create distance between you and attempting to recover guard. During this struggle, take one of your hands and take a cross collar grip (across your opponent's neck making it uncomfortable). In one motion use your weight to stack them and switch your hips and shoulders hard, forcing their legs to the mat as you "shrug" their legs off you creating a clear path to proceed to pass.

December 20th: Open Guard 2-on-1 Sweep

Many times when you try establishing a cross grip your opponent will defend with their free hand. Blocking the cross grip by pushing away, your opponent becomes vunerable to you retaking cross grip on the other side. When this happens you can take wrist control on that arm and establish a 2-on-1 grip by bringing your other arm (original cross gripping arm) over to secure the tricep. This can be a powerful grip. On the same side as the 2-on-1, put your feet on opponents knees, preparing to kick out, leaving your opponent without a post on that side.

At the same time pull your opponent on top of you as you kick their knee out. Turn them as you come up to your knees and establish the Top Mount position. When performing this movement you can use your free leg as a hook to help turn your opponent. Place it underneath their armpit and lift up to assist in the sweep.

December 17th: Worm Guard to Half-X Worm Guard Series

One common defense to the Worm Guard is for your opponent to stand up and push your foot down into half guard (on the Worm Guard side). This puts you in a vulnerable spot to get passed, in which case you may need to force a scramble if not countered quickly. This transition to Half-X (also known as Single Leg X) allows for you to maintain control of your opponent. A key to this transition is getting a grip on your opponents pant sleeve to control their leg/ankle (control preferably in front). As soon as your opponent defends by pushing your foot down and stepping back, control the pant leg. At the same time, shoot your leg through, setting up for Half-X. Bring your heel onto your opponents hip, securing the leg and the position. Next, reach around your opponent's leg (locking it under your armpit) and pass the Worm Guard Lapel to that hand. Control the same side sleeve with the opposite hand to settle into the position.

Half-X Worm Guard - Worm Guard Sweep (i.e. Hook Sweep)

Generally your opponent will take a grip on your lapel to balance themselves out since the leg is trapped. This is a mistake which must be taken advantage of. With the same side sleeve grip, push the arm down and pass it to the hand which is controlling the Worm Guard lapel. Once that arm is trapped, your opponent has lost their base to defend the sweep. Take a grip on the nearside lapel with your newly freed hand and place your foot that is on the opponent's hip to the mat. Shift your hips and pull down hard on the lapel and hit the hook sweep. The hook sweep elevates your opponent over your shoulder for this. Note: If opponents hands are freed you can still hit the sweep with a same side sleeve grip although it is more difficult since you cannot break their posture. Finish the sweep, landing on top and looking to attack.

Half-X Worm Guard - Half X Sweep

Sometimes your opponent is wise and doesn't give you the sleeve grip. If this is the case, you can default to a traditional Marcelo Garcia style Traditional Half-X Sweep. To accomplish this, pull on your opponent's trapped foot, lift your hips, and shift your hips to the sweeping side at the same time, toppling your oppenent's base. In the same manner as before, end up on Top and look to either disengage to Open Guard or look to pass.