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Knee Slice Pass from Rafael Mendes
Rafael "Rafa" Mendes is considered one of the greatest featherweight BJJ competitors in history with 6 IBJJF world titles at black belt and multiple gold medals in ADCC. His dominance began very early as he has held world titles at every belt level from blue to brown as well. He and his brother Gui Mendes have also influenced the course of jiu jitsu competition with their dynamic and creative use of berimbolo infused techniques and even the much maligned 50/50 position.
In the video below, Rafael goes into great detail and offers his take on the classic knee slice pass which is typically one of the earliest passes one learns after they begin to open the closed guard. It is the precision and detail that Rafael offers during his breakdown that hint at the onslaught of perfect technique that his opponent's have unfortunately had to contend with through his time as a black belt competitor.
No matter how successful your knee slice pass is, you will be able to take something from this video and add it to your technique making it better. Check it out below!
In addition you may want to check out another article about the importance of the knee slice pass here at BJJ Fanatics! Make sure to watch the video as well!
When to smash and when to be fast
One of the key takeaways from this video is the idea of understanding when it is time to smash and when it is time to be fast. If my leg is wrapped up in half guard and the opponent is using a strong knee shield, it is not the time to move fast, because I am trapped and need to address these defense elements of my opponent.
Addressing the knee shield
For Rafa, he uses an arm weave under the knee shield and secures a tight grip on the bottom leg. This gives him a sense of control over both legs and also attaches him to the opponent's so that his shoulder pressure on the shield can be that much heavier. This nullifies much of the power and pressure relief that the knee shield had provided up to that point.
Pants grip and collar grip
That pants grip will be the single most important aspect of lower body control that you can secure. By coupling that with a lapel grip, Rafael will both control the distance of the opponent's body and allow him to apply necessary forward pressure when necessary.
Knee over shin
One of the most common errors that someone can make with the knee slice is that we get ahead of ourselves and are always trying to move forward. Sometimes lateral can be a better option and in a way, this is an example of moving fast in Rafael's explanation as we are sliding our knee laterally and backwards over the shin and not over the thigh as we may have originally learned the technique. This allows us to slide out easily and establish a strong base.
Drive the hips with the hips
Once we have escaped the opponent's half guard control, we maintain lapel and pant control and drive our hips towards their hips and push them over to the opposite side away from us, ensuring that they are unable to escape.
In a second variation, Rafa uses a movement that is used often in warm up and technique drills, the step over. The pass is initiated and in this case the person's able to protect from side control, so in this case, the head is dropped to the floor and the hips are stepped over to the opposite side. It is crucial to maintain the pant and lapel grip as this will put the opponent in a leg drag style position when you step up, making it almost impossible for them to put their feet to the floor and escape the hips.
Take some time and revisit the classic moves that you think you've mastered and watch closely as the elite grapplers in the world add a few nuances that you've never considered. Always be learning and always be improving.
For more pressure style passing, you will want to check out 5 time world champion Bernardo Faria's "Battle Tested Pressure Passing" in 4 DVD and digital download format available here from BJJ Fanatics!