The One Key Concept That Makes Lucas Lepri's Passing So Different
Most Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners focus on innovating around the guard. It's easy to see the traps and tricks you can use, especially because the availability of submissions and sweeps is so much higher. Passing the guard, by contrast, is usually a much more monotonous and thankless task, and it seems harder to innovate from. Very often you are left relying on concepts and fundamentals to feel your way through the pass, instead of creating technical "if this, then that" scenarios. That's why when someone comes along and is innovative in how they approach their passing, it is worthy of some study and breakdown.
Lucas Lepri is one of the greatest guard passers ever, and maybe the greatest ever for that weight class. He methodically and systematically breaks down championship-level guards with relative ease and is the only guy who looks like he is there playing on the highest levels like you would in the gym. He favors knee slides and folding passes, but his combinations and fluid movement are nearly unstoppable. Recently, Lucas released "The Science Of Guard Passing" with BJJ Fanatics, and in it, he shows his passing series around some of the most commonly frustrating BJJ positions that most of us get caught in. Every position offers some awesome insights, but you can also start to pick up on some themes of how he approaches his fights, and one is fundamental before all else: his balance comes first.
Lucas Lepri’s Guard Passing Science Will Teach You How To Diagnose & Dismantle Any Guard In Your Gym Or In Local Competition
Lucas Lepri's understanding of balance as he passes is what makes him the monster guard passer that he is. At no point, even as he commits himself to a move, is he not in full control of his body and his base. That way, his opponent never has a chance to destabilize him and create problems, and he is always in a position to move to whichever pass best suits the moment. By keeping his weight under his own control, his opponent is having to work to create those openings that many of us let in without realizing.
Lepri (and many others) talks a lot about building your pass, and that is really very straightforward. He starts in a strong position, then adjusts to set up his next movement, stops all his opponent's threats, then moves to a better spot. He repeats this until he is out of the guard. This usually leaves his opponents trying things they aren't comfortable with, giving him an even larger advantage if they panic. By understanding his balance, Lucas Lepri has made himself into one of the most efficient grapplers on the planet.
What can you do to improve your balance on the mats? The first step, as easy as it sounds, is to practice how you want to perform. Find those moments when you are over-committing and find new ways to address those positions. Find someone you trust and flow roll with them, focusing on moving on top with balance as they flow from bottom to new positions and escapes. Second, learn to control yourself before you ever touch someone else. Find any imbalances in your body (one side is strong, the other is weak for example) and correct them. Try yoga or other activities that can help you learn to make the small movements easier. Or, learn from a balanced passer like Lepri, who can break things down in ways you may not have seen before. Give yourself the gift of a skill that you can use all the time, not just a move that you can do from one spot.