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BJJ HEADQUARTERS POSITION
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BJJ HEADQUARTERS POSITION

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The Brazilian art of Jiu Jitsu has become a prolific combat sport, and since the inception of the art into the western world, the innovation of many positions, and techniques have been instrumental. The sport has incredible ground fighting aspects that include intricate guard systems, dynamic sweeping mechanisms, high calibre submission maneuvers, and a powerful history of vicious guard passing. There have been many world class athletes that have regularly showcased their expert abilities in all of these aspects. Athletes like Ronaldo Souza, Marcelo Garcia, Roger Gracie, Marcus Almeida, Rafael Lovato Jr, and Xande Ribeiro all have complex game styles that incorporate excellent guard systems, and a formidable guard passing ferocity.

What this article covers:

All athletes need to have attributes in all aspects of the game, and this includes a takedown game, a top game, and a guard game. Learning how to apply jiu jitsu guard pass techniques to an athlete's arsenal is a fundamental process, but developing them into a destructive force that can crack open any competitor's guard, is a high level skill that only comes after years of repetition.

There is no one better to learn the nuances of the HEADQUARTERS position from than Rafael Lovato Jr. a master of the position!

headquarters position bjj

There are several positions that an athlete can access, in order to launch guard passing attacks from. Positions like the half mount, the open guard, the headquarters position, the combat base, and even the closed guard all are positions that athletes will springboard into commonly traditional, and highly audacious guard passes.

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WHAT IS THE HEADQUARTERS POSITION 

The headquarters position is a well known position among the world class black belts of the art. This position is basically a platform where an athlete can stay safe from different guard attacks including leg entanglement positions. It is a position where an athlete can monitor all aspects of an opponent's guard systems, and begin to attack a diverse range of guard passes. To understand the mechanics of this position imagine an opponent setting up into the de la riva guard, and the athlete is in the standing position with one knee planted into the hamstring of their opponent's de la riva leg. The athlete's other leg is angled backwards over the shin of their opponent's other leg, as they lower their stance into a based position. The athlete will actively control both legs by pinning the de la riva hook to the mat by the knee, while their other hand controls the ankle, bringing that leg to the middle. The athlete will now be able to neutralise the de la riva guard, and slide a knee across the thigh of their opponent, while they access grips on the mid section of the lapel. This guard system is highly functional, and has been known to work against multiple world champions. 

WHO CREATED THE HEADQUARTERS POSITION 

Most commonly this position has been around for awhile, without it being a specific technique. Now with the introduction of many high level guards, the necessity to have more intricate control over how an athlete will attempt a guard pass is extremely important. Rafael Lovato Jr is a world class athlete who has won multiple high level events, like the IBJJF World Championships, 

the Brazilian Nationals, the European Championships, and the Pan American Championships. Rafael has fought some of the baddest, and most iconic fighters on the planet like Romulo Barral, Roger Gracie, Rolles Gracie, Rubins Charles, Braulio Estima, Marcus Almeida, and Lucas Barbosa. Rafael has even credited Bernardo Faria's half guard as one of the main reasons his guard passing went to a higher level. Rafael's experience on the world scene of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts competition has seen him develop into one of the best practitioners in the world. Rafael's system of passing the guard has become extremely popular, as the iconic grappling platform bjjfanatics.com has filmed an extensive instructional series detailing his formidable headquarters position, and many options to achieve the guard pass, and submission maneuvers along the way. 

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WHY PASSING THE GUARD IS VITAL

There are many different techniques in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that are extremely important. Understanding concepts like controlling an opponent, and transitioning into submission set ups are crucial in neutralising, and defeating opponents. Getting to these positions is always half the battle, as commonly an athlete will be stuck in an opponent's guard, or unable to pass with any sort of fluency. There are many ways to improve an athlete's skill set, which will help to enhance their guard passing ability. Playing around with different Gi grips can help an athlete to figure out many potential ways that they may be able to stifle a guard attack, which in turn will help them to pass the guard. Utilising other methods like a bjj leg drag will also work effectively, and force an opponent to turn onto their side, which can open up a whole nother range of guard passing possibilities.

Most World Champion athletes are ferocious guard passers, and this is because they know the value of what a guard pass can do for an athlete. Having the ability to pass an opponent's guard with ease can take a lot of the complexity out of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Sometimes being a comprehensive guard player has a host of problems, like trying to move an opponent that has incredible top pressure. It is a proven fact that guard players will have to use more muscle power, and more cardiovascular energy to stay active, then a top game player will. Using guard passing principles, and staying on top of an opponent is a much safer option, and there are still just as many avenues to attack submissions, as there is from the guard. All athletes should be training extensively in guard passing techniques, and learning how to use extremely functional positions like the headquarters position.

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PASSING FROM THE HEADQUARTERS POSITION 

The headquarters position is an extremely versatile way to approach a guard player that is using guard systems like the de la riva guard, the x guard, and the reverse de la riva guard. Utilising a system that many other world class athletes use means the position has validity, and a high rate of success. The neutral position allows an athlete to take away some of their opponent's weapons, like the use of their de la riva hook. Athletes can set up a range of different passes including technical passes like the knee slice, and more aggressive passes like the over under jiu jitsu pass. All of this can be achievable while the athlete is in a safe, and stable position. 

The headquarters position is used like a system of passing options, and because the objective of this position is to attack submissions during transitions, then it becomes highly threatening to an opponent. Rafael describes his position like a system that gives him options to his left, through the centre line and to his right. Each way he goes will set up a different range of submissions like a cross collar choke, an arm triangle choke, and an ezekiel choke. Using submissions half way through a transition will only help an athlete secure the pass, and this is because in most cases when an opponent starts to defend the choke, they are usually more worried about getting submitted, and they may forget about the little intricacies they need to block a guard pass.

The knee slice is an extremely effective way to pass the guard, and because of this highly functional position the athlete is already three quarters of the way there. The knee slice, or the knee cut, can be achieved easily from the headquarters position, and all the athlete needs to do is position their knee across the thigh of their opponent. As the athlete begins to slice through the guard they can secure an under hook on the opposite side, and this will help to keep their opponent on their back. Usually an opponent will hold onto the ankle in a quarter guard, but this can be easy to pass with a little bit of pressure, and framing of the leg. An important tip for any knee slicing, or cutting pass is to use an athlete's head as a battering ram, and this can be applied underneath the jaw to help push the opponent's head in the opposite direction. A cross collar grip can also be applied during the knee slice, and this can help an athlete pass, as well as finish high level Gi chokes during the transition. 

Another pass that is highly effective is the smash pass, and this usually happens when the athlete attempts the knee slice pass. The athlete may start to slice their knee through their opponent's guard, where they can even use a cross collar grip, and a wrist grip to attack the neck by putting down pressure through their forearm. This can create an avenue of attack where the opponent will try to push their legs against the athlete to counter the knee slice, and to alleviate the pressure from the collar grip. This leaves an easy transition for an athlete to switch their hips over the top of the opponent’s knee to execute a smash pass. Using a smash pass is a great way to cripple an opponent's guard, as they will commonly be fixated on stopping the knee slice, and the smash pass from this angle becomes an unstoppable force, because of the athlete's body weight coming down on the opponent’s hips, and leg.

When an athlete sets up a knee slice pass there are different options depending on how the opponent reacts. Obviously reacting a certain way will give the athlete the smash pass, but in the instance where the opponent doesn't react much, and just puts up the blockers, the athlete can choose their own new direction. All the athlete has to do to attack the centre line is to attack their opponent's bottom leg by using their outside leg to simply climb over the knee. This will create an easy avenue towards securing the mount position. Like all of these attack scenarios, the athlete can look to apply submissions like the ezekiel, the baseball bat choke, or the head and arm triangle, and this will effectively help the athlete walk through their opponent's guard.

These are only a few options out of many that an athlete can utilise from the headquarters position. There are many other effective guard passes that can be set up from this highly functional guard passing position. Athletes can attempt other passes like the stack pass, the toreando pass, the weave pass, and the x pass. All of these types of guard passes are accessible from the headquarters position, and this is why Rafael Lovato Jr has developed this highly versatile position. Utilising a start point where an athlete can springboard into a number of different variations of guard passes is a great way to not only achieve a guard pass, but to remember each avenue for each pass. The problem that a lot of practitioners may face is they struggle to retain all of the information. So having a strategic point of control that they can base all of their guard passes off, is an extremely amazing tool, and one that can help a practitioner succeed. 

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HOW TO COMPROMISE THE HEADQUARTERS POSITION 

Understanding how to compromise the headquarters position means that an athlete needs to be actively ready to defend multiple guard passes. The two most common guard passes from the headquarters position are the knee slice pass, and the smash pass. These two guard passes work in conjunction with each other, as an opponent can switch between the two passes, depending on the athlete's reaction. In both of these cases the athlete needs to remain vigilant, and use a collar grip, and their centre line knee as their main defensive weapon. Using the knee to block the knee slice, and then angling the knee slightly to block the smash pass will ultimately help them to achieve this defense. In both cases the athlete will be actively trying to pull the weight of their opponent over onto the midline, as this will help to unbalance the opponent, as they are trying to pass the guard. For the headquarters position to stay effective from the outset, their weight is dropped back, which makes it hard to retain the de la riva hook.

There is no one better to learn the nuances of the HEADQUARTERS position from than Rafael Lovato Jr. a master of the position!

headquarters position jiu jitsu

With most guard passing attacks from the headquarters position the best defensive play is to try and pull the opponent's weight forward, as this will offset their balance. This is a great way to defend most of these passes, but ultimately the athlete is still in a position where the opponent can attempt to pass the guard. The main objective for an athlete to defend the headquarters position, is to regain a better control position. Whether this is back to a closed guard, or to regain a more comprehensive de la riva hook. In most cases the athlete just needs to use their knees, and their grips to fight back into a more solid position, like when the opponent attempts the x pass, they can follow the movement using their knee to block, and slip straight back into a de la riva hook. Sometimes if the athlete is quick enough they can regain the de la riva hook, and straight away execute a berimbolo, which can help them to advance their position into a back take, or a leg lock position.

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