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Pass Like the Hulk!
Passing the guard can be a tricky endeavor. Luckily for us one of the most dominant passers in the game has us covered, not only for passing but also the take down game. Lucas "Hulk" Barbosa is the reigning 2018 Middle-Heavy World Champion. With a nickname like Hulk you can imagine what he is capable of.
To pass the guard you first must put your opponent on their back. BJJ Scout (who might be the best BJJ Analyst in the game) has a great breakdown of the strategies that Barbosa utilizes to have one of the most dominant top games in the world today. Getting the fight to the floor can get boiled down into three distinct take downs that all feed off of each other, as BJJ scout points out its about quality not quantity.
The three main throws utilized are Kouchi Gari, Kata Guruma, and Morote Seoi Nage. All three of these throws are done using the same gripping strategy. This helps Hulk hide his intentions. Since these three throws cause specific reactions when defending this allows Lucas to set traps for his opponents as they react honestly to legitimate throw attempts.
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The reaction is what Hulk is waiting for. For instance we see in the breakdown above at the 1:35 mark Hulk initiates a Kouchi Gari and as the opponent compensates for the off balancing effect they set themselves up for the Morote Seoi Nage.
This a great example of a concept commonly referred to as funneling. Funneling is when you start to create a scenario in which the opponent has limited ways in which they can react. This makes setting traps that much easier for the attacker because they can force their opponent to make specific reactions that they are ready for.
Barbosa's passing strategy follows a similar vein. One of the main goals for Hulk's passing strategy is to flatten the hips and re-flatten the hips if needed. He also has a solid stable of three passes he uses the most. He mixes up Torreando, x, and Knee slide passes to be able to get around the legs. Barbosa will utilize the mobility afforded by passing on the feet to mix and match these techniques until he smashes down into side control.
Typically the first pass attempt involves some form of Torreando pass. As the guard player reacts he can then switch to his other techniques. This will lead to a lot of grip switching as well as side switching until the eventual pass. Lucas will funnel his opponent into defending, flatten the hips and execute his pass of choice. When the legs start to cross the mid line Hulk Smashes. Literally. As you can see in the videos provided often times as he starts to get around the legs Hulk immediately drops his weight down onto his opponent freezing their near hip in place.