Guard passes are an undisputed essential aspect of Bjj. Without a strong arsenal of passes, even a student with excellent submissions and control will not progress in Bjj. Passes are often overlooked early on. This is because most white belts begin their drilling and sparring in certain positions (e.g. mount) and work from there. As a result, the importance of strong passes is often overlooked by new students. A guard pass is essentially the act of getting around your opponents limbs and advancing to an advantageous position. Below are some simple passes that are a great addition to any grappler’s collection.
Simple Guard Passes
The knee slice is a very well known pass in Bjj. The knee slice occurs when you are standing up facing your opponent (on their back). You have one of their legs in between yours (a position called mission control). The next step is to pin your opponent to the mat. Your first point of contact will be pinning their collar to the mat, the next will be pinning their arm to the mat (on the same side that you plan to pass. The goal of pinning your opponent is to stop them from turning into you. Once they are pinned, you can pass (or slice) your inside knee between your partners legs making sure to touch your knee to the mat. Once your knee is on the mat, you can begin to walk your body up towards your opponent. The knee slice is a very strong pass for all levels of the game. This pass is used all the way from white to black belt due to its effectiveness. While it does take some practice, once you get the hang of it, you will make use of it often on the mat
The back step is unique to top half guard. As mentioned in previous posts, the half guard is a position that is incredibly common at all levels of the game. The back step often catches people by surprise. The opening for the back step comes when your opponent secures an under hook. Whilst keeping them controlled you do what the name implies and step one of your legs back and over their body. This will bring your body over your opponent and all that is left to do is to release your trapped leg from your opponent’s half guard hook. As with many positions, there is so much going on in half guard. With so many options at play, opportunities for the back step open up often. This pass is often taught from an early level and developed over time through the belts.
There are a few variations of the step through pass. It is notoriously simple and very frustrating for your opponent. The variation I am talking about is all that and then some. I struggled to find a video demonstration online (and the correct name) so I will try to explain it myself. From an open guard position (standing facing your opponent sitting on the mat, you step your left leg to beside their right shoulder. A semi-experienced grappler will turn, belly down on the mat, to grab that leg and attempt a take down. That’s your trigger to step your right leg around your opponent, to the other side of their body so that your legs are at either side of their torso. From here, you have your opponent’s back. The beauty of this pass is that beginners won’t know to grab your first leg. As a result, you will already have passed their guard. More advanced grapplers however will instantly shoot for your first leg and open up their back as a result. Best of luck finding a video tutorial of this one but try to feel it out and you won’t be sorry.