Legendary Guard Passing with Andre Galvao
The guard pass is quite possibly the most important aspect of BJJ. Whether we’re talking competition or street, the guard pass is the gateway to dominance. Once it’s been achieved, the opportunities begin to grow by the second. At the highest levels, getting past the legs is often times the beginning of the end. When there is an advanced level of skill present, it becomes incredibly difficult to come back after a pass has been cemented.
There are a million ways to pass the guard. Whether you prefer to stand and recruit gravity as your passing ally, or stay on the ground and steamroll the guard player, the goal is the same. We must eliminate the feet, knees, and hips from our route and get chest to chest, or impose another unfavorable position as we clear the path.
Andre Galvao is one of the most decorated BJJ competitors of all time. It would be tough to find a medal that he hasn’t claimed in our sport. Over the span of his illustrious career, he has dominated and solidified himself as one of the great legends of BJJ. He also happens to be a phenomenal teacher with an incredible work ethic. Galvao has created many champions and continues to spread his knowledge through his work at his own academy and soon, he’ll release a new instructional with BJJ Fanatics.
Years ago, Galvao released a book entitled Drill to Win. I remember ordering this book and the day it arrived at my house, probably more than 10 years ago. This book became my BJJ bible. It’s packed with these amazing solo and partner drilling sequences that really assisted me in elevating my overall game. This was really how I discovered Galvao, and I credit much of my advancement to the publication. I spent several years breaking down as many of these drills as I could and adding them in to my daily BJJ routine. From the compiling of these movements alone, it was easy to see why Galvao was such a monster. The prospect of this new instructional is very exciting and I’m sure we’re all in for something very special with this release.
Galvao made quite an appearance at ADCC 2019. He looked in the best shape of his life and was able to best Felipe Pena in this years ADCC superlight. Galvao’s aggression and signature forward movement were on full display as he relentlessly attacked Pena’s guard and hunted for the takedown. It was great to see Galvao back in action and successful once again on the competition floor.
So, back to this guard passing thing. In this video, Galvao has some great pointers on some traditional guard passing concepts. This is some instruction that you don’t want to miss out on. Have a look!
If you train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, you’ve no doubt been exposed to a stack pass. This under the leg variation of the guard pass has cemented its place in the BJJ guard passing hall of fame. It’s a staple in any passing arsenal and it’s a foundational principle of guard passing. Galvao regards the stacking style of passing as the best way to pass any guard and this is where he begins his instruction.
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Reaching under the legs with both arms and loading them up on to his shoulders, Galvao hides his head and uses grips on the belt to position his partner’s hips up on his knees. From her he addresses a common error. Often time its common that from this position we will extend our hand to reach for the opposite lapel. Achieving this anchoring point is important to the pass, but don’t get too greedy. Galvao adds an important step before making this connection with the lapel. He uses his grips to lift and steer his partner (in this case to his left) bringing his hand in to closer proximity with the lapel. This allows him to secure the lapel much easier and also sets up a great angle. Moving his head in closer to his anchoring hand, and reaching under the hips, Galvao begins to lift his partners butt from the floor while also starting to travel around his partner’s legs. Its likely that as Galvao’s hips get closer to his partner’s head, he’ll meet resistance in the form of a frame. Here, simply uses his lead knee to collapse this frame from the outside and completes the pass.
With some examples of why passing from the ground is beneficial, Galvao demonstrates how certain guards lose their effectiveness when we choose to pass this way. The De La Riva, the reverse De La Riva, event the spider guard are all incredibly difficult to implement when we’re situated on our knees. Standing gives the guard player plenty room to get established. This is an important concept to observe when you’re considering the best route to choose. All roads lead to the stack here in these demonstrations.
At times, Galvao is not able to actually get underneath the legs. In this case, he wraps the shins and secures grips on the pants again. As his partner grips his sleeves and the struggle continues Galvao chooses a side to break one of his partner’s grips. He can either rip the grip in an esoteric fashion or circle his hand through and remove it this way. As the grip comes loose Galvao posts the newly freed hand, steps back a bit with the same side leg, and then pulls his partner in a circular motion. This causes them to rotate unexpectedly and exposes the side control. Very slick. Find our instructional grip strategy videos The Dutch Judo Playbook by Noel Van't End
Moving on to another variation we find Galvao forcing his partners hooks to the inside of his legs where he uses his knees to clamp the hooks, keeping them stuck inside of his legs. This again shuts down many forms of the guard and as Galvao chooses a side, he places a knee behind his partner’s thigh and begins to cut his hips to the side to begin entering a side smash variation. This can also be done in a one leg variation that creates even more passing options.
Galvao adds an important caveat here. When we’re on our knees looking to perform a pass and our partner establishes a form of guard. This is the time to back up, and reenter, rather than play in to whatever controls have been established. In an example using the spider guard, Galvao rises from his knees to shed some controls and then immediately transitions back to his knees to continue.
This video continues to produce pure gold as Galvao proceeds with some more advice from a knee shield type position. As the guard player looks to create space from here, Galvao cups the shin on the knee shield side and sandwiches the leg with his head. He then rises from his knees, placing weight on his partner and easily hops to the opposite side of the leg, passing the guard with a leg drag variation. At the close of the technique another pinch with the legs is applied to stop inversion and the guard player from turning toward Galvao.
Should you throw out your standing passing game? Of course not. But there is one theme that will always be present when passing. We must close the gap between ourselves and our opponents If we start this process from standing were already giving up critical space that could be taken away by simply beginning from the knees. Galvao has this down to a science and you can see here how he chooses to apply pressure at the right times and when to relinquish space to improve his position.
Its clear Galvao has an incredibly systemized blueprint for passing that includes all of the common and not so common things we may encounter during the guard pass. His passing is more than battle tested and I cannot wait to see more! Amazing stuff here from one of the greatest to ever step on the mat!
Passing Modern Guards Using Old School Concepts is available now at BJJ Fanatics! Andre Galvao has the passing concepts you are looking for if you are getting trapped in Jiu-Jitsu’s toughest guards! De La Riva, Squid, or Lapel Lasso, you name it Galvao has passed it.
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