OVER UNDER PASS BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a diverse range of different transitional aspects, and the main decision for an athlete is to become a guard player, a guard passer, or an all round combination of both. In the modern era of grappling an athlete needs to have all round skills, and this is due to the diversity within the modern day grapplers game style.
What this article covers:
An athlete can never go wrong by mastering the art of the bjj guard pass, and this is because having a formidable top game can be more beneficial to an athlete than having a good guard game. Having a top game in BJJ is how an athlete will control an opponent, because they can use all of their weight to apply considerable amounts of pressure.
There is an extensive range of guard passing maneuvers, all of which are administered from different guard scenarios. The closed guard requires an athlete to firstly break open the guard, before attempting to pass, where other guard systems like the open guard, the x-guard, and the de la riva guard will allow an athlete to set up the style of pass they want to go for. Different ways to pass the guard will give an athlete an opportunity to control their opponents in different ways. Knee slicing, weave passing, or a bjj leg drag are more technically based, and involve a range of technical grips before an athlete can pass, where other pass maneuvers like the bull pass, the stack pass, and the over under pass rely on heavy pressure into the sternum of an opponent.
GUARD PASSING PRINCIPLES
There are many different concepts to think about when attempting a guard pass. The first aspect is understanding how to break open a closed guard. This is the part where a lot of athletes will go wrong, as they can commonly lose their balance, while attempting different techniques they have learnt. There are different ways to break open a guard, and athletes must not allow their opponent to compromise their balance while they are trying to open up the guard. Using a standing guard break, a cat stretch, or a double under split are all high percentage ways to break open a guard, and set up guard passes.
The next important concept is keeping a postured base, and this means that an athlete must keep their centre of gravity in a good position, with their spine in alignment with their head. If an athlete leans over too far into the guard they will become compromised, and easier to sweep. If the athlete leans back too far they will only allow their opponent to sit up, and move forward into the mount position. If an athlete posts off the mat this will open up more sweeping opportunities, or submissions attempts like the arm bar. An athlete needs to stay centered, keeping their knees just outside of their opponent's hips, with a nice straight back, and looking up to stay in a postured state. An athlete's hands should be gripping on the inside of the hips in a staggered position, so that it becomes harder for an opponent to break down their posture.
There are other important concepts like knowing how an opponent is going to engage with their frames, or their hooks. This is seen during many different new age guard systems like the x-guard, the 50/50 guard, and the z-guard, as an opponent will commonly begin to use lapel wraps, and different lasso grips depending on how an athlete begins to pass. Positions like the de la riva guard can be extremely annoying, as they can commonly stifle many guard passers attempts at moving freely. This is where using concepts like the bjj headquarters position, where an athlete will pin their opponent's knee to the mat to stifle the de la riva hook, as they look at using knee slicing, and wrist controls to move past their opponent.
Other guard passing principles include using dynamic movements to basically figure skate past an opponent's guard. This type of movement is for the more energetic, and younger style of athlete, or the ones that have extreme dexterity, or flexibility within their body. An athletic practitioner is capable of extreme movements like cartwheel passing, which is a way of gripping onto their opponent, and basically cartwheeling over the top of their body, and past their legs into a side control position. Dynamic movements are a lot harder to execute for the older, and bigger athletes, which is why they will commonly use pressure styles of passing the guard, like the over under pass.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PRESSURE PASSING FOR OLDER ATHLETES
Older practitioners are not as dexterous, or as flexible as the younger athletes in their gym, as these athletes will use a whole different range of more traditional style of movements. The older generation must conserve their energy systems, and not aggravate any of their injuries, or muscle structures. Utilising a more dynamic style of passing is not suited for the older athletes, as they will rely heavily on slower, and more methodical movements like pressure passing. Using this type of passing maneuver will help these athletes stay safe from over exerting themselves on a cardiovascular level, and it will also stop any type of unnecessary muscle strains, or tendon tears within their body. Furthermore, the older athlete is usually stronger due to years of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu conditioning, which means using the pressure style of passing will suit them more comprehensively.
Even athletes that are younger, and more dynamic will also benefit from using pressure passing techniques. The pressure game is extremely important, and this style of guard passing is one of the more reliable ways to get past an opponent's legs. In the modern format of grappling many guard players are extremely dexterous with their legs, and are even more creative with their intricate guard systems they perform. This makes it a lot harder for athletes to use technical guard passes to free themselves from different leg entanglements. This is why using pressure passing is a great way to subdue even the most intricate guard player, as the pressure game techniques incorporate different ways to pin an opponent's legs, and staple pass using pressure to the sternum.
THE MECHANICS OF THE OVER UNDER PASS
The over under pass is one of the great pressure passes for the older generational athlete. This pass works best when the opponent is setting up into the half butterfly guard. This is also extremely common as a guard passer will look to sit on one of their opponents feet, as they attempt to manipulate their way past the guard. From this half butterfly position on top, the athlete will look to secure an over grip on the leg, and an under hook grip on the opposite leg. The next step is for the athlete to turn their head and place their ear into the hip of the leg they are under hooking, as they step up onto their toes into an activated position similar to a downward dog in yoga. From here the athlete will extend their opponent's leg that they have an over hook grip on, as they lift their leg over the top, and move into a side control position, securing the cross face.
Some important tips to remember is that once the athlete has secured an over hook grip, they must make sure that they walk their hips over the top of the over hooked leg, and extend their grip outwards so that their opponent cannot counter with a kimura submission. Once the athlete has stretched out the leg, and has then stepped over to pass the guard, they must make sure that they use extensive shoulder pressure into the sternum of their opponent to keep them grounded on the mat. When the athlete reaches up for the cross face to finish the pass, and secure the side control position, a common problem they may face is their opponent will simply block their arm, stopping them from reaching the cross face. A good tip to combat this is for the athlete to switch their hand from underneath the leg, and move it back to a pants grip of the leg they have just passed, stretching it backwards, as they control the tricep and extending it upwards. This will force a position that the opponent cannot recover from, making it easy for the athlete to scoop underneath the neck for the cross face position.
HOW WAS THIS PASS CREATED
The over under pass was created as a combination of a few different guard passing elements. From the beginning many athletes would use the stack pass, as they would reach through and grab the collar, and stack their opponent to get through the guard. As a result of this type of pass the guard player would start to utilise techniques to push their opponent away like putting a foot in their hip to keep the opponent from passing their guard. This created more of an attacking open guard, which resulted in guard passers beginning to use techniques like the toreando pass to maneuver past their opponent's legs. Now this created another problem for the passer, as the guard player would simply frame into the shoulder, which would force the guard passer to switch to the other side for the stack pass. The guard player became so good at defending both of these passes that moving from the toreando to the stack pass, and then back to the middle opened up an opportunity to sit on an athlete's foot, and work straight into an over under pass. The creation of the over under pass was basically like live work shopping in a real fight scenario, and this became an unprecedented way to pass an opponent's guard.
THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE OVER UNDER PASS
The over under pass became one of the iconic ways to pass an opponent's guard using pressure. Athletes began realising they did not have to bait their opponent's with the toreando, or the stack pass, and they could simply break the guard, scooping under the leg, and entering straight into the over under pass. This was all good until opponents started learning that all they had to do was reach over the back of the tricep, as the athlete hooked underneath their leg, and this would create a situation where they could push them face down onto the mat. This was a position that the opponent could access the omoplata position, or just take away their control.
This brought about further development of the over under pass, as professional athletes like Fabio Gurgel started realising that instead of scooping underneath the leg with their arm, they would attack the shin by sitting on the foot, and putting pressure into the shin with their chest. This would allow a stronger position for athletes to attack into this passing maneuver. Other developments would go on to help athletes take better control before they attempted this pass. A common problem was that an opponent would simply have too much strength in their leg to extend outwards, and stifle the passing athlete. This brought about an even greater control, as athletes realised all they had to do was drop their chest in lower, blocking their opponent's ankle, and dropping their shoulder to the inside of their shin, which completely took that leg out of the game. This was a game changer, and resulted in complete control, making an easier step over the leg, and pass for the athlete.
HOW TO DEFEND THE OVER UNDER PASS
Like most defenses to any type of movements in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, early prevention methods are crucial. This means that athletes playing guard can stifle a guard passer's attempt at the over under pass, by simply playing more of a tilted guard position. As the opponent comes into the over under position, and because the athlete is in more of a tilted angle, they can use their top knee with more extension to work their way back into the open guard position. This can be a good preventative measure, which makes it difficult for a guard passer. Athletes that have extremely dexterous limbs can also use quick movements, and work the guard passing opponent into an omoplata, or a kimura submission, if they are quick enough to escape their shin from outside of their opponent's chest. This is not always possible because of the pressure a guard passer will apply, but with enough framing, and early prevention methods, this technique can become a high percentage one.
Once an opponent has stepped into the over under position, the athlete needs to address both of their opponent's shoulders. This is extremely crucial in stopping the over under pass, as the shoulder is what will apply the pressure in the pass. The athlete will use their knee inside the shoulder of their opponent, while reaching over and grabbing a cross collar grip, and using their other hand to frame into the wrist. This is a good defensive position to keep an opponent away from the inside of an athlete's position. From here the athlete can move their hip outwards, pummeling their leg to the inside of their opponent's shoulder, as this will create a frame underneath the armpit. Now the athlete can remove their other leg, sliding it through into the closed guard position. Using this type of guard retention method is extremely crucial in stifling a guard passing opponent from applying intense amounts of pressure into the abdomen of the athlete.
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