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Return To Headquarters With Rafael Lovato Jr.

Return To Headquarters With Rafael Lovato Jr.


Rafael Lovato Jr. Has been a force in the BJJ competition scene for many years. As one of the most decorated American BJJ competitors of our time, he’s picked up some impressive accolades over the course of his journey, including multiple world titles, pans gold (first American to do so), and a Brazilian national title. He’s been an innovator and large contributor to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, helping to evolve the game with his razor-sharp technique and unique style. 

Lovato has recently focused his efforts on MMA, putting together an impressive string of victories and claiming the Bellator title. With an undefeated record inside the cage, Lovato appears to be gaining even more momentum as he reaches new heights of success in his career. 

I remember the first time I heard the term “headquarters”. I was taking a class (on passing obviously) and it came up during the opening instruction of a knee slice pass. From that moment on I referred to any situation where I had my leg positioned up the middle of someone’s guard as “headquarters”. From there I began to study some of Lovato’s material. 

If you’ve never been exposed to any of it, headquarters is a hub from which Lovato sets up and executes many different forms of passing. This is from an open guard setting. So, picture the guard player lying on their back with their feet up and the passer stepping in between the legs and squatting down on the bottom players instep. From here the world is your oyster. Every imaginable passing option is available and you can string them together to seamlessly to create an incredibly effective guard passing onslaught. 

Truly, Lovato’s early instructionals set the tone for the way that I attempt to pass from standing and continue to be a home base for me to this day. This probably resonates with many of you as well. 

Lovato is known for his incredible pressure and ability to pass and smash at the highest levels, making this system even more legitimate and interesting.

Lovato’s first instructional materials came out several years ago and since then the game has certainly evolved. Guard players have discovered and developed new ways to deal with this type of passing system, but Lovato has not been taking any time off from furthering the development of the headquarters position itself. He’s been studying and continuing to improve headquarters, modifying it and testing it against the modern guards of BJJ. 

So, what has Lovato been up to in regards to the headquarters position? What changes has he made? Well we’re all about to find out. Lovato will soon be releasing a new instructional on the position with BJJ Fanatics. Personally, I’m very excited and intrigued to revisit this content and see what he’s been up to. 

Take a look at this quick video. Here, Lovato gives us a taste of what to expect and talks a little bit about what he’s been up to. Check it out! 


Referencing some of the perils of more modern guards, Lovato discusses some of the amendments he’s made to the headquarters position itself. It was quite common before to just settle in to this position and take a grip on the collar and one at the pants to get started. But this has become more difficult with the variety of positions the bottom player has to choose from nowadays. Lassos, DLR hooks, etc. have made an all-encompassing headquarters tougher to implement. 

Learn From Long Time Lovato Teammate Xande Ribeiro! Click Learn More!


Lovato has modified his positioning a bit by putting a bit more emphasis on shutting fawn the legs first. As he settles in, he controls the free leg and pushes the knee down toward the floor, negating the DLR hook. He also guides the leg under his body to the far side. Here he can cut his knee across in the style of a knee slice pass and achieve a cross collar grip with his palm up, while also pinning the wrist. Coupling all of these details together, Lovato has constructed a new headquarters that shuts down many of the common responses to the previous position. 

You can see here that Lovato has much of his weight forward, putting a lot of downward pressure on the upper body. With his leg not touching the floor, this adds to this heavy top pressure and also keeps him far away from any kind of DLR hook. From this position, Lovato still has loads of technique at his disposal. He briefly touches on using the cross-collar grip to provide the pressure for a knee slice pass. He demonstrates how to remove his partners bottom knee and pass directly in to the mount. And of course, one the passes he’s most famous for, the smash pass. 

Something very important and interesting to note here is that Lovato is putting himself in excellent position to not only pass the guard, but to also begin hunting submissions as the pass is taking place. As Lovato states, the guard player is really faced with an unfavorable choice. If they lose focus on stopping the pass and turn their attention to the submission attack, they may lose their guard. But if they stay too focused on the pass, they may succumb to the submission. Presenting the bottom player with this kind of dilemma will increase both your passing success as well as your submission rate and this is something we can all benefit from. 

The regeneration of this passing system is an exciting prospect. Lovato goes on to briefly demonstrate how all avenues are still available with his new take on the headquarters position, but now with the addition of adding a submission threat to each of the different passing sequences. 

This instructional is sure to be packed with game changing material and if you’re a fan of Lovato’s previous work, expounding on that is going to be exciting. Looking forward to seeing more! 

Diamond Concept of Defense by Xande Ribeiro

The Diamond Concept of Defense by Xande Ribeiro is a MASTER CLASS in DEFENSE. If you find yourself getting your guard passed constantly, or you are getting stuck in side control Xande can help you out. These techniques don’t require extreme athleticism or strength, just the power of the DIAMOND! Know how to structure your body to form the Ultimate Defense regardless of skill level!



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