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Fine Tune Your Pressure Passing
Pressure passing is one of the best, most effective ways to address any type of guard game your opponents or training partners can employ. Utilizing the grinding, methodical elements that make up pressure passing against anyone who specializes in closed guard, half guard, butterfly guard, or any other fancy guard type, will have them going back to the drawing board to try to figure out how to stop your crushing weight and hip immobilizing grips.
The Over Under Pass is the pressure pass foundation for many high level pressure passers like Bernardo Faria for instance. If someone posed a question to Bernardo Faria such as "if you could only have one pass in your game, what would it be?" it would 100% be the Over Under pass. Working on the nuances of the pass since his earliest years of jiu jitsu, he has developed not only a crushingly effective version of the pass, but he has every route from all the opponent's possible reactions mapped out.
Knowing a position so well that everything you do to an opponent pushes them closer and closer to the position you need them to be in. It is one thing to be able to apply a technique perfectly when the perfect opportunity presents itself. But to be able to create the perfect environment from the millions of different reactions that an opponent can present to you is truly the hallmark of a high level understanding of a position.
And once you've forced the opponent into your trap and into your game, to keep them there is another skill that we need to all strive for. This is not something that happens overnight. It is not something that happens after a year or so of training. High level competitors like Bernardo Faria have spent countless hours on the mats, both training and competing, working to put other high level athletes into the positions they desire. Once there, they must execute them perfectly and make adjustments if necessary, should the opponent begin to throw a monkey wrench into our plans.
In the video below, well known jiu jitsu instructor and internet personality Stephan Kesting spends some time with Bernardo fine tuning the Over Under Pass. Check it out below.
Let's review the elements of the basic Over Under pass to give us a better framework to understand the improvements that Bernardo offers Stephan. First and foremost, Bernardo likes to begin securing control on one of his opponent's legs by essentially sitting on the foot. By controlling this would be hook and clamping his thighs on their legs he goes a long way to keeping himself from being swept.
From there he secures an under leg grip on the other leg and locks his hand to their pants or to their belt. The leg he is controlling with his thighs is further compromised by an over hook grip that wraps down to the end of their pant leg and secures the grip there.
One the grips are secured and the hips are locked into place, the full brunt of the pressure pass comes to bare as the shoulder on the over hook side is driven into their diaphragm. Bernardo will now walk the opponent's trapped thigh closer to the center line, flattening the opponent in the process. Once they are flat, he will jump that inside leg over and turn both legs into the opponent to drive their hips away from him, which allows him to secure head control and establish a strong side control.
Now let's take a look at the areas that Stephan asks about and Bernardo also offers as improvement areas. Stephan begins by sharing how the Over Under Pass perfectly fits his game as an older grappler that is plagued by the injuries that come along with the advancing years. Bernardo points out that he considers himself very lucky to have developed this style of game as it is extremely relevant and useful to the older grapplers who tend to be the largest demographic of practitioners at any academy or seminar.
Pressure Pass Fine Tune #1
The first area that Stephan would like to address is the challenge that some opponents give him when he is trying to extend the trapped leg that he is gripping with his outside arm and thighs. Bernardo immediately sees that the grip that Stephan is trying so hard to maintain at the end of the pants is actually working against him and exposing his elbow to the kimura. That coupled with a premature extension of the leg also further exposes that arm to attack.
Bernardo's prescription for Stephan is to not be so concerned about the grip on the pant leg, but instead to focus on keeping the elbow tight and protected by keeping his arm draped across the thigh. Once the elbow is protected, he recommends walking the opponent a few steps away from the midline to make it easier to push the leg and ensure that the elbow is not in danger at any time. From there, he can safely walk them back towards the midline of their body and flatten them.
Pressure Pass Fine Tune #2
The next area that Bernardo fine tunes for Stephan is in the transition from finalizing the Over Under Pass to the point where side control is reached. In the classic Over Under Pass, once the legs are passed, since they are the biggest and most challenging obstacle, establishing side control simply seems like it would be attained by replacing one's grips. But as all things in BJJ, knowing what you want to achieve and achieving it are two distinct and different things sometimes.
The opponent on the bottom can attempt to block the cross face arm and cause issues. Bernardo's fix for this is to take the hand that was under hooking the hip and use it to grip the opponent's pants. This coupled with a grip on their tricep as they attempt to stop the cross face allows you to stretch them open like an accordion making it impossible for them to bring their hips in to replace guard or stop the cross face arm from establishing control.
Pressure Pass Fine Tune #3
In the final pressure pass fine tune, Bernardo goes right to the essence of pressure. Though Stephan's pressure is solid and difficult to deal with, Bernardo points out that it could be better. With a slight twist of the hips and adjustment of the feet, the pressure that was distributed over the comparatively larger area of Stephan's body is focused into his shoulder and becomes much heavier. If you remember our article on the physics of pressure passing, not only can weight be maximized, but surface area should be minimized as much as possible to increase the overall pressure.
The longer you train, the more you will find out how truly important the early techniques you were exposed to really are. The basics and the fundamentals should remain crucial to one's game for their entire career, but they become even more important to the aging grappler who is looking for the most efficient way to beat those young bucks in class and on the mats.
A sometimes ignored aspect of learning any technique is learning the "Fundamentals and Concepts" that lie under the position. By having a firm grasp on these concepts, we can expedite our learning and make our techniques more effective. You can get Olympic medalist and BJJ black belt Travis Steven's latest 4 volume instructional here at BJJ Fanatics and begin your journey deeper into the "Fundamentals and Concepts" that you need to know to be successful.