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Advice for Passing from the Feet with Travis Stevens

Advice for Passing from the Feet with Travis Stevens


Standing up to pass is a favorable method of defeating the guard for many and it definitely has its benefits.

With gravity on your side you may find it easier to stay ahead of the bottom player, or perhaps you like the mobility it offers, and you find it easier to keep moving. Whatever the case may be, we should experiment with all types of passing to see where we find ourselves having the most success. If you mainly pass from the knees maybe it's time to stand up and see what happens. IF the opposite is true, you should flip the script and see what kind of results you get when passing on the ground.

Pass Like An Olympian! Click Learn More below!


I always preferred passing from the ground until I started competing. I feel passing from the feet has helped me to push the action a little more, and create more of a sense of urgency for the bottom player, which sometimes leads to holes in the guard game. This is just my two cents!

In this video Travis Stevens is going to cover some basic concepts for passing while standing. If this type of passing is new to you, then this is the perfect place to start. If this is familiar territory for you, give it a watch and see if you can pick up some key details you may have been overlooking. Give this a watch!

  • Where to start

Ok, so let’s begin with what Stevens refers to as his starting position. As he approaches, he drives his right knee deep into the bend of his partner’s leg, secures a grip on the lapel with his right hand, and also a grip on the pants on the opposite side. Travis is confident in his ability to pass the guard if he can obtain this position. With his head up, and his hips low here, Stevens has constructed a platform from which he can launch his favorite passing sequences.

Stevens uses the idea of a ladder system to translate the specifics of getting to this type of position. You’ll notice as he enters, he controls the foot first, then works toward the knee (with his knee), grips the opposite pant leg, and then lastly secures the collar. If you hope to be successful here, you’ll have to approach the position in the same manner. This can't be done in reverse, or you will find yourself playing the bottom persons game instead of your own. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

  • Weight distribution

If we can’t distribute our weight properly, this position will be difficult to maintain. To make sure we understand how to position ourselves, Stevens offers a little experiment. He gives his partner two butterfly hooks from which to elevate him with. With the butterfly hooks it's easy for your partner to elevate you, if your out of position. To remedy this, as his partner begins to elevate him, Stevens places his head and shoulders over his hips. This makes him much heavier and more difficult to move. As his partner transfers energy to elevate Stevens, there is a pocket of opportunity to being passing.

Stevens gives us another way to test our body positioning by combating the reverse De La Riva with the same concept. Here as his partner begins to create space using the RDLR Stevens rotates his free leg outward and treats it as if he is trying to lift it from the floor, transferring his weight in to the RDLR guard, and shutting down his partners ability to create space. This is not easily seen, but the concept is very important.

A third example of weight distribution comes to us from the x-guard. Here Stevens allows his partner to establish the x-guard. The x-guard is a powerhouse of a position when it comes to elevation, so this is a great spot to work on your weight distribution. Stevens places one hand on the floor, and takes a grip with his other hand on his partners gi. As his partner begins to elevate, Stevens lifts his opposite leg, and picks his partners upper half off of the floor. This helps him keep his balance and transfers weight to his partners X, making finishing any kind of sweep very difficult.

  • Creating Chaos

Using your mobility to create angles and force passing scenarios will be critical when passing from the feet. Stevens begins with the important step of finding your range. As you approach to pass you need to be close enough to touch your partner, but not so close that a guard can be established. When the bottom players legs are extended to a certain degree, the muscles are weak. We can use this to our advantage when were looking to engage and pass. If we can bait our opponents in to this extension of the legs, pinning a leg to the mat and beginning to work will become much easier.

Travis Stevens has simple concepts that he applies to his throws, take downs and guard passing. His approach is simple, and makes him one of the best grapplers ever.


We enjoy a bit of increased mobility when were standing to pass. So as Stevens suggests, we can perform some side shuffling and little in and out movement to entice our partners to reach out with their legs to try and keep their guard composed. It's in these moments of leg extension that we need to take advantage of the scenario we’ve created and begin passing. Finding this range, and knowing it, will have massive effects on your passing success!

Don’t forget the advice on the hip line either! Stevens notes that to be successful we must work to get above the belt line. Only here have we successfully penetrated our partner’s defenses. I particularly like the inversion reference. I think sometimes we think we’ve beat someone’s inversion, and we haven’t. As Stevens explains, the above the waist rule still applies when out partner inverts, and must be observed. Stevens uses a cross step to retreat back to the otherwise of the body to avoid his partners inversion. Definitely comment and ask to see this pass!

This was an incredibly helpful video for me. I often forget the importance of certain themes, and I prefer passing from the feet. If you’re a beginner, this is amazing advice, and it just might help you bypass some common early mistakes. If you’ve been around for a while, I hope you picked up something useful, or maybe connected some important dots.

If you enjoyed this video by Travis Stevens, check out his new series Magic Guard Passing.  You can get it here at BJJ Fanatics!




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