Using the Guillotine to Pass the Guard
Add this deadly tool to your passing game
Passing the guard of experienced grapplers can be relentlessly difficult at times, especially when grappling without the gi. If a guard player is good at keeping their knees close to their shoulders and shrimping, a lot of the traditional basic passes will not be effective. In order to combat this, it is important to re-examine the approach to guard passing and not just the techniques.
Two approaches I typically tend to use against good guard players is to either relentlessly switch sides and passing styles until the guard player makes a mistake, or use submission attacks to get the pass. The latter is preferable because it is not tiring and does not require me to wait for the guard player to make a mistake, because there is no guarantee they will.
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There are numerous submission attacks that can be used to pass to pass the guard. The two most commonly used are kimuras and different variations of guillotines. Although I use the kimura often, it is not always feasible because if the guard player is protecting their arms well, it will be difficult to get the grip regardless of positioning. The guillotine is much more versatile.
From half guard, the guillotine is very easy to grab. To get the guillotine, get close to the guard players head and wrap it with the arm that is closest to the ground. If you use the wrong arm to grab the head, not only will it be difficult but will also expose you to back takes. It is important that when you grab the guillotine, you should not lie on your shoulder but need to stay on the elbow for quick mobility. From here, apply pressure to the neck as if you are trying to finish the submission, then use your other arm to prop the trapped leg out to either mount or a back-stepping position.
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Another way of using the guillotine to pass is when you’re are standing and the guard player is seated upright. Step the lead leg in between the guard player’s legs and then wrap the guillotine using the arm on the same side as the lead leg. You can grab a standard guillotine or arm-in, although I find the latter to be more effective at getting the pass. From this position, drop the knee of the lead leg over the guard player’s thigh on the same side till it gets to the ground and then quickly back step with the other leg.
There are numerous ways of using the guillotine to pass the guard. It is important to not get caught up trying to finish the submission but focus on passing the guard first. The reason using submissions like the guillotine to pass the guard works so effectively is because it distracts the guard player from guard retention and forces them to focus on defending the submission.
One of the best guillotine games on the planet has to belong to MMA and grappling coach Neil Melanson. His work with high-level UFC fighters is well documented. You can get his complete Headhunter Guillotine series here at BJJ Fanatics!