Developing Tenacious Guard Passing
Like most things in jiu jitsu, passing the opponent's guard seems simple on paper. I'm just trying to get around their legs, right? Much easier said than done. There are so many things to consider and be wary of as you attempt to pass the opponent's guard. How do I deal with their hooks (feet and ankles)? How do I nullify the strength of their legs and get them out of my way? How do I traverse those dangerous waters around their hips where they can very easily scoop under and reverse me? And what about the use of their arms and their grips? How can I quickly assess all of the problems being thrown at me at once and make the best decision to address the most pressing problems first? And this list of questions and problems does not even take into account all of the things I need to be doing while I'm attempting to pass.
It's clear then that passing a training partner or opponent's guard is arguably the most difficult and arduous tasks we face during our match or training session. There is no easy answer to how to develop a tenacious guard passing game, but first and foremost it's helpful to look at the top level athletes and find someone who's body type or approach to jiu jitsu best fits your own.
One of the best examples of tenacious guard passing that all of us can look to for inspiration and for knowledge is Leandro Lo. The two videos below offer great examples of the ability of Leandro to almost maniacally fight whatever flavor of guard his opponents are throwing at him.
Lo's tenacious gripping
Whether it's his vice like grips on the gi pants (usually at the knees) to control the hips and manage the hooks and overall distance the legs can reach, or grips on other areas of his opponent's body, it's clear that when Lo finds a grip he likes, he does not let it go until he is ready and has gotten all of the benefit he can from that grip.
Lo's tenacious base adjustment
Watching Lo's body gyrate and his hips adjust as his opponent tries to destablize and unbalance him is almost too much to take in. Each step forward to passing the guard is made up of dozens if not more minor adjustments to maintain balance. If they're not sweeping you, you are still passing. Remember that.
Lo's tenacious ladder climbing
I have had instructors liken guard passing to climbing a ladder. As one moves further and further towards the goal, it becomes key to maintain progress and not slip back to the beginning. In other words, once you've opened the opponents closed guard and moved to half-guard perhaps, you must establish a base camp and make sure that you do not devolve back and find yourself caught in closed guard again. Lo is constantly moving step by step up the ladder to get around his opponent's guard.
If you'd like to learn more about Lo's background, check out this BJJ Fanatics article here.
In the video below, Leandro Lo demonstrates a pass that he has been using since the very beginning of his jiu jitsu career. It is a pass that figures prominently in the highlight vides above and reiterates the key points outlined above of being tenacious with your gripping, your base adjustment and of constantly climbing the ladder towards the submission or dominant position.
The best way to improve your guard passing and work to emulate or implement the techniques of your BJJ heroes is to learn directly from them. It has never been easier to do so than now. Take advantage of the amazing deal currently on Leandro Lo's 4 DVD "Lo Guard and Matrix Passing" system. You can get it here for only $77!