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Understanding The Different Passing Styles

Understanding The Different Passing Styles


Jiu Jitsu is attractive to many people because it is pretty compartmentalized. In Jiu Jitsu, there are different categories of techniques and modes of action. Although they are numerous, it helps break the sport down for people so they can digest it in chunks.

Some examples of the different parts of Jiu Jitsu grapplers focus on are takedowns, guard, escapes, etc. Although they are all interesting and fun, guard passing seems to be a favorite for many.

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Guard playing or passing seem to divide rappers into two groups. Many grapplers prefer to play guard and hence become known as guard pullers since it is an easy way to get to the position they like. Other grapplers prefer to pass and maintain top position. M

Neither of these styles is superior to the other even if some people say so. You won’t see someone with a mediocre card sweeping an opponent with good passing and you also won’t see someone with poor top position get passed someone with a good guard. It’s the nature of the sport.

In this article, I wanted to break down the three primary passing styles and illustrate how they compare and contrast.

Before even delving into the actual topic, I wanted to make a note on takedown skills. If you find that you generally prefer to be on top, you absolutely have to develop your wrestling skills. Guard players have the luxury of being able to pull guard, but there is no such thing as pulling top position.

You won’t necessarily always get to roll with or compete against a grappler that pulls guard, and if you’re someone that wants the top position, you better be able to take them down or else you’ll be playing guard.

Anyway, back to the topic of discussion.

I was able to attend a few seminars that Gordon Ryan and Garry Tonon taught in. In one of those seminars, one that was primarily focused on guard passing, Gordon discussed something that we all know that we never put to words.

Gordon explained how there are three primary styles of passing guard. There is quick passing, which is usually done from a standing position, pressure passing, and passing utilizing submissions.

It seems that every Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner has a preference regarding what kind of passing they prefer. Personally, I always gravitated towards fast passing and passing using submissions.

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Fast passing works well for me because I am light and move quickly on my feet. This is a common theme among passers who prefer passing from standing position; they tend to be light and quick. These grapplers tend to avoid pressure passing because our weight does not allow us to put a lot of pressure against our opponents.

Examples of fast passing include the torreando, X-pass, and leg drags. To be good at quick passing, however, one has to master the ability to switch sides easily. This is difficult because we usually drill techniques to one side and not the other.

Heavy grapplers usually stay away from quick passing because they are not as fast. They do, however, have the ability to crush their opponents with their weight, especially if they are good at putting pressure down.

What you will find is that this group of practitioners prefer to start passing from their knees. It seems they it is better suited for this style of passing, especially when you are trying to pin your opponent’s legs or pass half guard.

A benefit of pressure passing is that there are more options of techniques one has as well. Another benefit is that it is you don’t have to start from zero if the guard player defends the pass.

Finally, the style of passing I am beginning to use the most frequently is passing using submissions. This style of passing works well because as you are working on getting past your opponent’s legs, you can distract them from their guard defense with submissions.

When they shift their focus to submission defense, they forget to keep defending their guard. Sometimes they will even let their guard get passed so as to try to escape.

There are many different submissions you can use to help pass guard. The one most frequently used, and everyone uses them without realizing, are front headlocks. Guillotines, darce chokes, and arm-in guillotines are all commonly used to pass the guard.

Another submission you can use to pass guard is the kimura. You can get a kimura from half guard or by tricking your opponents with a rolling kimura.

There is a lot of benefit in using this style of passing. First, it makes it easier to pass the guard. The second benefit is that you already have a submission to work on immediately after getting past your opponent’s legs.

So, there are three different ways of passing guard. Most grapplers tend to gravitate towards one style. The issue here is that many guard passers become one dimensional and predictable. If I go up with someone who likes pressure passing, I am prepared to defend that before they even start. Same goes for the others.

The best way to approach guard passing, especially if you’re looking for the long-term benefit, is learning how to combine all three together. The ability to switch between the different modes is rare but possible, and if you can manage it, you will be a significantly better Jiu Jitsu artist.


Check out Gordon’s “Systematically Attacking the Guard”, and while you are at it, you should probably pick up “Getting Swole As A Grappler” his complete meal plan and workout strategy that allowed him to pack on insane amounts of muscle and functional strength.  Besides, does anyone not want to be shredded? Yeah…. Didn’t think so.



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