The Only Pass You Need

The Only Pass You Need

There is an old martial arts quote, attributed to the legendary Bruce Lee that says that we should not fear the person who has trained ten thousand types of kicks one time, but should fear the person that has trained one kick, ten thousand times.  But we aren't kicking, we're opening guards, trying to pass guards, and working for submissions.   How does this relate to the current state of BJJ?

Think about all of the moves people are scrambling to try to master:  spider guard, half guard, De La Riva guard, X guard, butterfly guard, the list is endless and we haven't even mentioned the leg attack game.  Keep in mind also that each one of these guards has variations of its own that need to be learned.  When the average BJJ student's hips and legs should be spinning, all that is actually spinning is their head as they try to wrap their brains around all of these positions and techniques.

Everyday, on jiu jitsu mats around the world, practitioners are working very hard drilling and training a million different ways to pass an opponent's guard. Some incorporate pressure passing, while others rely on fleet footed Mendes style dance moves to circumvent the opponent's legs.  All of these variations depend on so many different aspects of someone's game, body style, athleticism, and training environment to just name a few.

Over time as new styles of guard are developed by up and coming students and competitors, somewhere someone will be working on ways to split those guards wide open and pass.  The thought of trying to keep up with these almost infinite variations can seem very daunting.  How in the world is the average BJJ practitioner going to keep up?

Well, perhaps there's another path?  Let's face it.  90% or more of BJJ practitioners are not going to be able to keep up with all of the changes.  Maybe taking a different approach and attacking the problem would be easier.  What if we told you that you could follow in the footsteps of Bernardo Faria who for all intensive purposes, specializes on one particular pass, the Over Under Pass.

Before you say, how can one pass solve all of the different problems that the millions of guard variations can present, you must understand that Bernardo Faria has been utilizing the Over Under Pass since long before he was a blue belt.  This pass has become the foundation of his entire pressure passing system and has found a place in most of his highest level matches against the world's best BJJ competitors.

He is knowledgeable enough about all guard options that his opponents could be presenting to him, from all variations of closed guard to all open guards.  This awareness and knowledge allows him to "force" the opponent into a situation where the Over Under Pass makes sense.  By understanding these different guards, he is able to stop the opponent's progress and secure the grips and pressure passing elements that make this pass so unstoppable.

 Once he has forced his opponent into a scenario where the Over Under Pass makes the most sense, he is also extremely aware of the counters, adjustments, and potential sweeps or attacks an opponent could send his way.  By focusing solely on making this pass work, he is in a sense able to put a square peg into a round whole and take a pass that might not initially be effective against XYZ guard, but by exposing that guard and putting the opponent in a situation where they must adjust, Bernardo keeps the game where he needs it to be.

In the video below, Bernardo teaches his favorite guard pass, the Over Under Pass against an opponent who has caught him in closed guard.  Check it out below.

In this variation of his speciality, Bernardo Faria reviews the simple concepts he uses to open the closed guard.  By building strong posture and control the opponent's distance and ability to launch submissions, he is able to create a situation where he can safely stand, open the guard and step over the opponent's leg.

When someone has their closed guard opened in this manner a high percentage reaction is to try to catch the passer in half guard.  Bernardo anticipates this because he's seen in on the highest stages so many times.  He replaces his lapel grips with grips over and under the opponent's hips and stops the half guard from happening and works to finish his Over Under Pass.

So instead of scrambling to try to become the 'jack of all trades, master of none' on the mats, perhaps another approach would be to find a technique that starts to become high percentage for you and dig deeper and deeper into that technique. All you need to do is watch high level matches between world class competitors to see that the vast majority of what is happening are the fundamental positions, passes, and submissions that we all start out learning, but never master.  By increasing the depth of our knowledge, along with the breadth, we will go much further in our BJJ journey and save ourselves a lot of wasted effort trying to learn things that may not fit our game or style of BJJ.

Start to find ways to force your opponents towards that position.  The more routes you have to your dominant positions, the better your ability to control the pace and direction of the game and move towards victory. 

And by understanding the millions of reactions that can happen as you put them into your own personal ocean, the more dominant you will be.  Don't beat yourself up for not knowing the ten thousand potential guard passes, when really all you need is one.

To get started following in Bernardo Faria's footsteps, take advantage of his "Pressure Passing Encyclopedia" knowledge on his best-selling 4 volume instructional video available in On Demand and DVD formats.  You are literally minutes away from changing your entire game!

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