Work on Your Guard to Improve Your Passing
A fundamental concept of jiu jitsu is efficiency. By using leverage, the techniques of BJJ allow us to use the minimum amount of strength and effort for maximum benefit. It is important to also apply this idea of efficiency to how one develops a well-rounded game. When you are in a position where you have limited amount of time to train or drill, you must spend it as wisely as you can.
Which is more important? Guard or Passing
The initial and cliche answer is that having a well-rounded game involves having both a strong and varied guard game and a multi-faceted passing attack game would be ideal, but if you are just starting out or looking to maximize your training and drilling efforts--what is the best and most efficient route to go? Should you spend more time on increasing the number of passes you have or working on perfecting your guard?
In the video below, world champion Bernardo Faria shares his thoughts.
In the video, Bernardo explains that one should give precedence to improving one's guard. Training primarily one's passing can ultimately make someone one dimensional if they are swept during one of those pass attempts. Whereas if a BJJ practitioner puts more effort into broadening their guard game, they will naturally find themselves in positions where they are able to sweep their opponents and partners, put themselves in the position to pass. For this reason, working guard must take priority in Bernardo's opinion.
Drills that force the partners to hone in on the various elements of retaining guard and simultaneously force the partner who is in the role of the guard passer to not pass the guard, but to constantly threaten are great because they allow the two participants to explore scenarios that may happen in the blink of an eye in a real time exchange.
The video below is a great example of how drilling allows you to choose a specific moment in a match and repeatedly execute and perfect the movements.
The person who is the "guard passer" works on their posture, their base and their grip breaking, while the person on bottom works on maintaining the guard and sweeping without the fear of someone passing their guard and smashing them in side control for the duration of a 5 minute roll or match.
For more information on basic guard passing concepts, check out this BJJ Fanatics article on the topic here.
Unless you are a full-time jiu jitsu athlete and competitor, you probably have others responsibilities that can keep you from being on the mats as much as you want. Take a cue from the gentle art and work to keep your training schedule as efficient as you can. By focusing on one's guard game, you are indirectly putting yourself in the position where you will work on your sweeping and your guard passing, once the reversal is achieved. If you're exploring different styles of passing, this article from BJJ Fanatics will definitely help you out.
If you put 100% of your focus on your passing game, the same will not be true and you may find yourself getting swept and passed yourself, because you are unable to stop the opponent.
If you are looking for more help with your game, especially in the area of passing and Finding yourself dealing too much with your teammate's guard? Check out the amazing J.T. Torres series On Demand geared to improve your Passing, Back Takes and Finishes here.