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Controlling the Hands when Passing Guard

Controlling the Hands when Passing Guard

Basic Sets Of Controls Obtain Easier Passes...

When passing the guard of skilled Jiu Jitsu practitioners, we are often met with intricate resistance such as frames, hip escaping, under hooks, and so on. Usually when passing, grapplers fail to establish good hand control allowing the defender to use their entire body to defend the guard pass. Also, some grapplers are not just good at retaining their guard but can use the passer’s limited control to getting submissions like triangles and armbars.

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In order to be skilled and successful guard passers, grapplers need to look for hand control before beginning their movement. If the guard player has dominant control of the passer’s hands, it will be near impossible to pass unless one is going against new white belts. I can’t think of any guard pass that doesn’t utilize hands. Even if there is no hand control from the guard passer, it is difficult to apply the necessary pressure to finish off a lot of guard passes.


Establishing good hand control before beginning the guard pass will lead to better guard passing and defense against guard submissions. In the following video, Josh Barnett discusses the importance of hand fighting when passing and shows a few ways to use it.

If you notice, Josh almost never uses double hand control as it will limit the ability to use the hands the pass the guard. Rather, he controls only one hand of his partner as it is secure enough to defend against guard retention and submission attempts.


If the defender does not have both hands, it is near impossible to finish any submissions like the triangle or armbar. This is especially important when grappling in the gi as there are more submissions that can be attacked due to the availability of the lapels.


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One guard pass that is taught often in our academy utilizes a two on one grip to break the guard and then a single hand grip to finish the pass. When in someone’s guard, use both hands to pin the guard player’s forearm to their body. Put all of your weight on that arm and stand up. Let go of only one of your hands while using other to control the defender’s arm and open their guard up and begin your favorite passing sequence. Controlling the hands while passing also opens the defender up to submissions faster than if there is no hand control.

 For more guard passing check out Leandro Lo's "Lo Guard and Matrix Passing" instructional available from BJJ Fanatics!  You can get it here today!

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