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Prepare To Smash With Rafael Lovato Jr.

Prepare To Smash With Rafael Lovato Jr.



The side smash. I just love the way it sounds. This particularly uncomfortable guard pass has been one of the staples of Rafael Lovato Jr.’s passing system for years. Time and time again we’ve seen competitors at the highest levels succumb to this no nonsense, pressure-based dismantling of the guard. In previous instructional releases from Lovato we got our first look at his details on the smash pass and it quickly became a favorite in the BJJ community. Often paired with the knee slice (but certainly not limited to this scenario), the smash pass is a great alternative to when we begin encountering resistance while trying to cut across the body.

The headquarters position, as Lovato describes it, was our first introduction to the hub that he uses from which to launch all of these different passes. This was a huge milestone for passing in BJJ. Many jumped on board and these methods are still used by practitioners all over the world. Since that first material was released the game has changed a great deal and Lovato has been evolving his passing system to adapt to new threats and modern guards. 

With Top Game Devastation now available through BJJ Fanatics, we’re getting our first look at what’s different and how Lovato has adapted the positions. We’ve already been treated to a segment on an updated knee slice variation, which gave us some great insight on the new additions. Lovato has added some new positional details to what we know as headquarters, that he refers to as “checkpoint”. This new idea adds considerable armor to the passing procedures and a new and exciting element to the system. 

Let's now look at the smash pass. This is Lovato’s bread and butter and its definitely something you should see! Have a look! 


As Lovato enters with his right leg up the middle and establishes his headquarters position, he addresses the De La Riva hook first, as this is no doubt one of the greatest threats to passing in BJJ today. The moment he settles in, he pushes the DLR hook way down to the floor. His partners next movements will determine his next course of action here.

With the inverted DLR taking shape, Lovato decides to work toward the smash pass. He first enters his hand in tot eh collar with a thumb down grip. You’ll see this in different forms throughout the series. Using this grip to apply pressure to his partner’s head, Lovato coupes this with the lowering of his left hip toward the mat. The process has now begun.

Top Game Devastation is HERE! Click Learn More.



If the guard players top leg is still rigid and strong here, Lovato looks to lift his hips and then penetrate his knee through the space in between his partners legs. This will naturally release him from any grips and help him travel to the opposite side where he can now post with a kickstand style right leg. In this transition Lovato also advises us to switch the orientation of our head and make a full rotation in our line of sight as we transition to the opposite side of the body so that we can begin to settle in properly to finish. 

Discomfort is key when we begin pursuing the final stages of the pass. Lovato begins to split the legs even further here, using a knee, toe motion to walk his leg. This opens his partner up and creates more space for the completion of the pass. In addition to this walk he also lifts up on the head, creating a twist in his partners body and adding to this level of discomfort. Tucking his free leg tight to his partner, Lovato can now very easily step right over his partners body and in to the mount position to complete the pass. 

This is just a small portion of how Lovato prefers to use the side smash pass. The idea is to coax the guard player in to giving us the pass by limiting the options. Lovato does this perfectly with the way he positions his body and the different tactics he’s employing. This makes the side smash an incredibly common option and one that we may see presenting itself more and more as we work our way through the system. 

It's no secret that passing the guard is a paramount skill in BJJ. If you can make it past the guard, its likely your success will only increase from there. No matter your body type or preferences the headquarters position and its many utilities is sure to serve you. The popularity of Lovato’s earliest releases confirmed this idea when it caught fire in the BJJ community and there’s been no sign of this passing style being underutilized to this point. 

Lovato has been one of the most successful guard passers in the history of the sport and his methods are almost bulletproof, when performed properly. Look up any highlight video and you can witness Lovato’s incredible passing skill set against the best in the world. With these updates and evolution of the positions and passes., Lovato has compiled a new and improved way to implement his systems and unleash them on the modern problems we face when trying to pass the guard. 

So, if passing is feeling a bit stale, or if it’s always been a trouble spot for you, consider delving in to Lovato’s work. You may find that it’s the answer you’ve been looking for and discover that it’s incredibly beneficial to your game. This is how the original release was for me. It really gave me a home base to work from in my own training and with lots of interchangeable options it assisted me in finding my way through some of the toughest guards in the training room. With Top Game Devastation, now available I’m looking forward to updating my toolbox and continuing the journey. Good luck! 

Pressure Passing and Top Game by Rafael Lovato

Top Game Devastation By Rafael Lovato takes you on a Jiu-Jitsu Journey that is sure to revitalize your Top Game. Learn the Precision style that Lovato has used to not only win a Jiu-Jitsu World Title, but a Bellator MMA Title! Lovato has experience that few others possess. Take his tools and add them to your kit. You won’t regret it!



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