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For beginners, there’s usually one thing missing from their pressure passing. And that’s pressure.
For whatever reason, beginners try to pass an opponent’s guard without adding pressure. Maybe they’re not used to the close contact of grappling sports? Or perhaps it’s the fact that adding pressure takes more effort for the passer?
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Regardless, though, pressure can mean the difference between a successful pass and a failed attempt. Applying pressure against your opponent may take effort, but that added pressure is uncomfortable and is an added distraction to your opponent. To understand how we can apply the maximum pressure while passing an opponent, we can look to Bernardo Faria.
Faria’s over/under pass is the stuff of BJJ legends, and in the video below, Faria focuses specifically upon how he adds pressure during his pass attempts.
Pressure works best when maximum weight is applied to one specific point. You don’t want to distribute your weight over a large area; you want to concentrate your weight in one focused area. Most often, Faria uses his right shoulder to apply pressure against an opponent. He shows us the position he uses—hips elevated, left leg bent at the knee, and right leg propped on the toes while straight and stretched—as he shifts as much of his weight as possible into his shoulder (1:39).
Using his over/under pass as his first example, Faria shows us how he achieves this exact position while passing. But, first, Faria shows us an incorrect position (2:20). Remaining at rest on his knees, Faria can’t concentrate his weight against his opponent’s solar plexus. Instead, his weight is mostly on his own knees, with only a bit distributed against his opponent.
On the other hand, when Faria shifts his hips upward and returns to the position he demonstrated earlier, his opponent becomes much less comfortable (3:32).
Faria positions himself in nearly the same way when using the stack pass (3:57). In this case, his leg positions are exactly the same. The only difference is that, instead of having his shoulder directly against his opponent’s diaphragm, his shoulder against his opponent’s leg, transferring Faria’s weight into his shoulder, through his opponent’s leg. He is applying so much pressure that his opponent’s knee is touching his own chin.
Even with the toreando pass, Faria’s goal is to use his shoulder to make his opponent uncomfortable (4:32).
Faria uses the same principle in side control, adding pressure against his opponent (5:23). This time, his shoulder is against his opponent’s face, applying a distracting amount of pressure. His legs are in the exact same position as he was using in each previous demonstration.
This pressure position is one that you can practice on your own, and it’s worth your time to drill it until it becomes habit. Then, the next time you’re rolling, your pressure game will have your teammates gasping.