How To Pass A Complicated Guard (Or Any Guard For That Matter)



(Photo courtesy of William Burkhardt of



How to Pass a Complicated Guard

by Julius Park


Modern Jiu-Jitsu has been increasing in complexity, especially in the guard work. The latest innovations are focused primarily around lapel grips, which have (temporarily) confounded the BJJ community.


Like anything complicated, we have to “chunk” the material down into smaller, more manageable pieces.


Guard Passing is actually three stages:


  • Unwinding / Grip Breaking
  • Clearing the Legs
  • Securing the Dominant Position


Unwinding / Grip Breaking


Jiu-Jitsu students frequently ask:


How do I pass the ________ Guard?

(a) De La Riva

(b) Reverse De La Riva

(c) Spider Guard

(d) Lasso Guard

(e) Deep Half Guard

(f) Worm Guard



This is a somewhat inaccurate question. What students are actually asking is “How do I break the grips that are on me?


By grips, I mean feet & legs as well as hands & arms.


Each guard is defined by a particular set of grips and grip sequences. The process of removing your opponent’s grips and getting your grips is what I refer to as unwinding.


The first unwind you ever learned was probably from the top of guard . Your instructor probably told you to remove your opponent’s hand from your collar before starting to open the guard. If you don’t remove the collar grip, you give your opponent more opportunities to attack as well as defend the later stages of guard passing. This same cause and effect relates to other “more advanced” guard positions.


Clearing the Legs


The actual clearing of the legs are the techniques most commonly referred to as guard passing.


Knee Cut
Double-Under / Stacking
Leg Drag
Long Step, etc.


But as everyone knows – its probably easier to hold a pissed off cat than an upper belt whose legs you’ve just cleared.


Which brings us to part 3.


Example of Clearing the Legs & Securing Dominant Position



A very different approach to Clearing the Legs


World champion Aarae Alexander vs World Champion Tye Murphy. #worlds2015 #ibjjf #JiuJitsu #rolypoly A video posted by Crazy 88 MMA (@crazy88mma) on




Securing the Dominant Position


As a Blue Belt, I distinctly remember how hard I thought it was to hold a person down after the pass. They would ALWAYS turtle. I could clear the legs but it was so difficult and energy consuming to hold the person down or to actually get the back.


These are fundamental movements that are used after you’ve cleared the legs, but the individual is still resisting the pass. For the competitors, this is the step when done wrong, you end up with an advantage but not any points.


To do this well, you must train back takes as well as dominant top position transitions such as side-mount, mount, knee-on-belly, etc. Don’t limit yourself by only choosing to take the back or only trying to secure side-mount. You often will not get a choice as to how your opponent reacts once you clear his legs – some will turn in, some will turn out, some will lead with legs, some will lead with arms.


Successful Leg Clearing with Failed Securing Dominant Position


Notice that Guard Passer has to Remove the Collar Grip Before Initiating The Leg Clear


Joey from third law passing the guard in the Purple Belt Open. #ibjjf #Neoprene

A video posted by Crazy 88 MMA (@crazy88mma) on


A Video about Securing Dominant Positions via Side Switch



Additional Tips on Guard Passing


Certain guards are responses to particular guard-passing systems. For example, worm guard is primarily a response to a knee-cut or bull-fight passer. You’ll be able to avoid a lot of that guard’s strengths by passing a different way i.e. passing from the knees.


Be able to pass to both sides


Don’t be reactionary unless you are forced to be. You should have the jump on your opponent as the top man since they have to pull into a guard. They should be forced into the 2nd stage of guard pass (defending your leg clearing) rather than you being pulled into stage 1 (unwinding their grips).


Thank you very much for reading! I hope that this article helps you in your Jiu-Jitsu journey!


About Julius Park: I am a Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. I’ve produced BJJ World Champions from Blue Belt up to Brown Belt. My next goal is to get a student to the Black Belt World Champion level and into the UFC. I have an English Bulldog, Ghostface, who has so far resisted all training methods. I teach out of Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts gyms in the Baltimore area.



Julius Park


Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts can be found on the Web, Facebook and Twitter.


Renzo Gracie Discusses “Real Jiu Jitsu” And Gracie Academy Online




Renzo Gracie Discusses “Real Jiu Jitsu” And Gracie Academy Online


Some people can never get enough drama.


This interview with Renzo Gracie from 2009 has resurfaced and reignited a beef that has since been settled. Nonetheless it is an interesting interview that is worth a listen. Check it out below.



Rener Gracie took to the fightworks podcast and Facebook to address the video redux.


BREAKING: Rener Gracie Responds to Renzo Gracie Yesterday, a Renzo Gracie interview from 2009 re-surfaced in which he…

Posted by Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy on Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Moral of the story: Jiu Jitsu for everyone, and don’t be a keyboard warrior.


How To Stop Someone From Passing Your Guard


guard retention


How To Stop Someone From Passing Your Guard


One of the most difficult skills for the white belt to develop is keeping someone from passing your guard. Passing the guard can be done with technique at the higher levels, but in a match between white belts, sometimes guard passing is easily accomplished with size and strength. Retaining your guard and not letting anyone pass it is a skill that requires finesse, precision and timing.


Here are some of the best video tutorials that I have found that will help the new BJJ player keep their opponents from passing the guard. The first video is a brand new one from Firas Zahabi, coach of legendary MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre.





8 New Sports Proposed For The 2020 Olympics, Why Not Jiu Jitsu?



(Photo Credit:


8 New Sports Proposed For The 2020 Olympics, Why Not Jiu Jitsu?


Baseball and softball remain on course to get back into the Olympics. Squash, karate, surfing and four other sports are in contention to get into the games for the first time.


The International Olympic Committee will make a final decision on which sport or sports will be added in August 2016, when it meets ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (of all places).


The sports that applied but failed to make the cut were: air sports, American football, bowls, bridge, chess, dance sport, floorball, flying disc, korfball, netball, orienteering, polo, racquetball, sumo, tug of war, underwater sports, waterski and wakeboard.


No one even applied to have Jiu Jitsu added to the games! In this day and age?! I could possibly swallow BJJ failing to make the cut, but it is hard to fathom how there is no nomination. Is it because I am biased into thinking that our sport is bigger than it is because I eat, breathe and live it?


Has anyone ever tried to get our sport into the Olympics before that I am unaware of? Would being in the Olympics be good or bad for our sport?


Hopefully it works out for the korfballers and the tug of war enthusiasts.


meTony Peranio WBBJJ