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Playing and Passing the Lasso Guard
The lasso guard is an extremely popular open guard. The lasso guard is extremely grip dependent, and for the most part, can only be executed in the gi. Many high-level competitors have played the lasso over the years, some of them include Michael Langhi, Clark Gracie, Romulo Barral, and other very reputable Jiu Jitsu fighters.
Some people despise the lasso guard because it exemplifies the purest form of sport Jiu Jitsu. Lasso guard would obviously not be ideal for a self-defense or MMA situation, but when it comes to rolling in the gym or gi competiton, let’s face it, the lasso is an extremely powerful guard.
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Why is it so good? The lasso offers you unbelievable control over your opponent and makes it very difficult to pass, there are several sweeps and submissions from the position. How do we beat the lasso? Beating the lasso is no simple task and requires a more methodical approach to passing the guard.
Playing the Lasso Guard
Why is the lasso guard so dominant? You have so much control over your opponent and you can make it very hard for them to pass. The lasso also offers a lot of options to play hybrid guards. For instance, you can use a lasso with spider guard, you can use a lasso in De LA Riva, X-Guard, or Reverse De La Riva.
The lasso itself is a great guard but combined with other guards it becomes an excellent source of control and a great position to sweep from. You can also use the lasso to set up submissions such as the omoplata, the triangle and the arm bar. The submissions from lasso come on quick and surprise your opponent. Check out our article “Attacking from the Lasso Guard.”
The lasso guard also allows people to have excellent guard retention. Just when you think you can pass someone with a lasso, they invert back to guard or sweep you. Check out this sweep from Gregor Gracie where he uses the lasso below.
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Passing the Lasso Guard
Passing the lasso guard is no easy task. It is one of the hardest positions to pass, especially if your opponent is good at using the lasso guard. A good conceptual rule of thumb to think about is that you should almost always pass to the side of the lasso. So if your left arm is being lassoed, pass to your left, if your right arm is in a lasso, pass to your right.
Passing the lasso can also be more complex and very dependent on how good your opponent is at the lasso. Something very simple you can do so that you have a good indication of how strong your opponents lasso guard is to turn your palm to the outside as soon as you feel them getting the lasso.
If you are unable to get your hand and turn your palm out, this means they have good grip strength and that it might be difficult to pass. Another thing to note is that there are also two types of lasso, a shallow one and a deep one. Both can pose a miserable experience. Another good rule of thumb with the lasso is to stand up and keep distance and be in a squatted posture with a strait back. The more strait your back is, the more squatted you are, and the farther away you are form your opponent, the better your base and chance of diminishing there attacks will be.
The lasso can be a difficult guard to sweep from and submit from, assuming you have good base and no how to mitigate the opportunities of your opponent. The true problem with the lasso lies in the fact that if your opponent is very good at it, it is almost next to impossible to pass. Sometimes it can become a stalemate where you are able to nullify their attacks and they nullify your passes. Passing i hard.
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It is easier said than done because when passing the lasso, you must be aware of many attacks. Posture can make your very difficult to deal with from lasso. Keep a low base and stay in a squatted position as we stated above. Check out our article “Smashing Spider Guard with Pressure Passing” we talk about spider and lasso in it. Also, check out this excellent instructional video of passing the lasso below with Bernardo Faria.
So, whether you choose to become the dreaded lasso guard player of your gym, or you are adamant about destroying lasso guard players, there is a lot of detail on both ends. The lasso is not your "basic" guard. Both passing and playing the lasso guard involves a lot of detail, and a methodical approach. This guard can wrap you up and you have to apply what we refer to as "specified passing."
Playing the lasso can help you to slow down your opponent. Some people hate being in this position because they may not know what to do. So if you are able to achieve the lasso guard, it can nullify a lot of your opponents passes. Yes, there is a negative perception of this position give the dependency it requires with the gi, but a negative perception does not make it ineffective.
Do not listen to those that criticize, this is a part of sport Jiu Jitsu and it shoudl not be neglected. If your professor does not play the lasso or teach it, this can hinder your growth as a practitioner and especially as a competitor. You don't need to know how to play and pass lasso like Michael Langhi or Bernardo Faria but it is wise to train it and be exposed to it. When we neglect things, often times it is because we are intimidated by them. Ignorance is bliss.
Remember to train the lasso, if not to help yourself, learning this position will also help your training partners (although they may despise you at first). Almost every academy has that one person who is very good at some of these tricky guards. Remember that you do not need to be flexible, athletic, or strong to play this position. You just need the knowledge.
If you want to learn how to implement a simple lasso guard or how to implement a simple lasso passing strategy, look no further than Gregor Gracies 4 DVD Set, “High Level Fundamentals.” Gregor is an excellent instructor with a good passing and guard game.