Guard Passing Mastery with Lucas Lepri
A storied career would be an enormous understatement for 34-year-old Alliance superstar, Lucas Lepri.
He’s been a staple in the competition scene for many years and seems to have only gotten better with time and age. Lepri has an impressive resume with victories over some of the very best in the sport and continues to turn heads with his incredible technique and jaw dropping skill level.
Lepri is a guard passing titan among other things, and he shared some of his greatest instruction with BJJ Fanatics. He has an otherworldly knee slice pass and his ability to dismantle all different types of guards and move past them is nothing short of masterful.
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Let’s take a look at some of Lepri’s instruction and see if we can draw from it, some of these incredible details that make his passing game so unstoppable. Surely, these details are couple with an insatiable work ethic, and the will to be the best, which cant be discounted as a major contributing factor to success. So, get ready to work for it!
Let’s start with an amazing breakdown of the knee cut pass. The knee cut is quite possibly the most popular form of passing in BJJ. And for good reason. It is effective, accessible to all body types, and easy to understand. The knee cut more than likely has a place in every BJJ player’s passing toolbox in the world and its definitely here to stay, so get on board! Even if the knee cut isn’t one of your preferred methods of passing, you should still be hip to what makes it tick, so you can recognize it when its coming at you.
So, how is this important pass executed by one of the very best in the world? Let’s take a look, and see!
Lepri begins to set himself up to pass by bringing his right leg up the middle. He’s met here with a common reaction from his partner, a De La Riva hook. Lepri immediately secures a collar grip on the same side as the DLR hook and begins to lower his center of gravity. He then lifts his partners head from mat a bit and closes his elbow putting pressure on the DLR hook. With his opposite hand he takes a grip on the pants near the shin and guides the leg under him as he travels to his left.
Still leaving his elbow closed, Lepri prevents his partner from staying flat and the knee shield from entering in to the fold, as well as a whole host of other problems he would likely encounter. He also prevents the reverse De La Riva from forming by using that grip he’s acquired near the shin to pin his partners bottom leg to the floor. Lepri has now created a very unfavorable scenario for the bottom player and set the stage to continue passing.
As he begins to come forward his partner really has no choice but to begin to establish frames. Here, Lepri switches his grip from the pants to the sleeve near the elbow. With the sleeve secured, Lepri continues forward with his upper body and looks to make contact with the mat using his knee cap and then pivots to his left a bit. This is important to take note of. Many variations of the knee cut involve a sort of baseball slide at the end to clear our leg. But these types of variations can leave us open to guard retention and other issues when trying to complete the pass. Here, Lepri keeps his knee firmly planted on the mat and his grips in place, so that as his partner moves, he continues to stay connected at the hip and stifle any hopes of guard retention.
Lepri addresses an incredibly common scenario when trying to knee cut. If we don’t have all of our bases covered at the inception of the pass, which is likely, the guard player may be able to enter a knee shield. The knee shield is very effective in bringing our forward progress to a halt and must be dealt with if we hope to continue passing.
Lepri’s answer to this problem is actually quite simple, which is great. He does more of a reset than anything. As the knee shield enters into the game, Lepri keeps a firm grasp on his grips at the collar and the sleeve and jukes back to the middle to remove the knee, punching the collar grip back to the right. He then recovers his elbow to the inside space, blocking the knee shield from returning and then continues on with the pass. I love this. This is an excellent answer to a very common problem and something you will undoubtedly run into when trying to implement the knee cut pass.
This next video gives us insight into some of Lepri’s base and balance concepts as they pertain to his passing posture. This is a great accompaniment to the knee cut instruction as these concepts go hand in hand. Check this out.
Lepri has an incredible base and an ability to stave off sweeps like no other. His balance, posture, and base are simply incredible, making his nearly impossible to reverse or even throw off course when passing.
Lepri begins with some words on our level and possessing the ability to change it and adapt to different passing scenarios. When he gets to his feet, he starts to speak about eh concept of going with our opponent’s energy. As his partner pushes him away, Lepri rides the wave moving back with the energy and then moving back forward to advance in to a good passing posture.
In another example, Lepri gets very tight to his partner. As eh explains, if we aren’t willing to work with our partners energy and we remain too stiff, we are easily moved, and possibly reversed. Here, Lepri gives in to his partners efforts to move him, rides the energy and then selects a different passing posture to float to. Subscribing to this kind of theory could have a massive immediate impact on your passing success.
Lepri demonstrated another interesting concept with his standing passing posture. As he approaches, he keeps his head down and his hips up. This may seem counterintuitive to some, but for Lepri this allows his to engage the guard player without being pushed away. Staying at the same level as his bottom partner gives them too much ability to push and manipulate Lepri, throwing him off his path.
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Let’s look at one last video where the knee slice comes in to play. Here, Lepri shows us his preferred methods of shutting down the single leg x guard position, and the knee slice makes another appearance. Take a look at this.
From the single leg x position, Lepri begins with an incredible detail that you must take note of. Many of us know that we need to remove the foot from our hip if we hope to continue passing. Lepri does this, but he adds the projection of the hip in combination with a drop in his level. This hip projection make sit much easier to scrape away the foot. Don’t forget this detail.
Once the foot is removed, and with no under hook space available, Lepri finds a grip on the material of his partners gi near the triceps, with his opposite hand controlling the lapel. Here, he transitions his grip on the triceps to a thumb down grip in the collar, dropping his elbow down and creating some discomfort for the bottom player Anticipating the bump, he then posts on the floor to keep himself in good position. Lepri then turns his previously trapped leg across the beltline. Here he can continue to cut his knee through in to a knee slice passing variation and claim the side control.
IN a second variation, Lepri shows us that we can also step our outside leg over the top of our partner’s knee for an incredibly slick and easy transition to the mount.
These are two highly effective methods of shutting down a modern guard and working to an effective passing posture.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the content here today. Lepri is a gold mine of incredible information and we’ve only touched on the tip of the iceberg with these particular videos. Hope this helps! Good luck!