Guard Passing: Isolating Weakest Links

Many guard passes are difficult because they are designed around controlling hip movement via trapping, pinning, and/or lifting against the powerful piston action of the quadricep and hamstring.

Comparatively, the weaker links are the hip abductor and flexor muscles that move the leg at the hip girdle.

To feel these muscles, balance on one leg and lock the suspended leg at the knee. From here, move it around the ball and socket joint of the hip. As you’ll likely feel, these muscles are extremely functional for their respective purpose, but not nearly as strong at the hamstrings and quadriceps when it comes to moving and supporting mass.

Design passes (and a guard game!) accordingly. ;o)


8 thoughts on “Guard Passing: Isolating Weakest Links

  1. I like where this is going (I’ve been enjoying several posts I’ve read) but would love to go deeper… any examples of passes that focus on taking advantage of the weaker muscle groups you’re talking about?

    1. Ken,

      Thanks for the comment. I may get deeper into this, but for now study the passes you already do along these lines.

      Solid structure and design should work against 99% time provided you get to the position (easier said than done of course), so study what is bread and butter and what isn’t from both a general success ratio and muscle groups and against muscle groups. Passing is just one scenario among many in an ongoing exchange of objectives and bio-mechanical means to get there.

      Kron said in a recent interview with Joe Rogan that his Dad didn’t have a coach for most of his life, and my theory is Rickson was able to develop the BJJ he did in part to thinking about leverage directly as it pertains to anatomy. This knowledge is something we all have equal access to but possibly ignore in favor of people’s BJJ we deem ‘higher’ than ours?

      Hope this doesn’t come across as being coy as I do appreciate the kind words and you chiming in. Have a great weekend!


    1. Yeah, I think this is what made Rickson’s Jiu-Jitsu so baffling to people. Dude cardio tapped Fabio Gurgel in his competition prime. lol. He thought at a different, more elemental level than moves, as the problem with moves is they are often designed to fix problems you created for yourself. That’s my theory anyway Watson. ;o)

  2. Got a chance to work some of this stuff tonight against a long-legged guy who likes spider guard / leg lasso / pushing with his feet. Was most successful when I was able to control his feet and back away so his leverage with hooks/grips was minimized. Was least successful when my feet/body got close to him and he could hook my ankles with his hands to sweep. Will keep pressing ahead and find new ways to attack and prevent him from establishing the grips in the first place.

    1. Yeah it’s a feel that takes time. When in doubt I suck eveything in and squat back in a staggered stance. No need to press ahead.

      Also, as you noticed I jam hooks by turning legs/knees inside, so there’s nothing to hook.

      No rush to pass. It’s more of you wrestling against yourself for posture. Passes come in their own time.

      Cheers and have fun with it. Study serious, but play loose on the mat. Let the body find its way.

  3. After using these ideas for a few training sessions I’m finding they’re working well with respect to controlling my opponent’s ability to frame with feet/legs and shutting down spider/de la riva guards pretty well. But, the only “pass” that’s really working for me is the leg-drag style pass. My problem seems to be that everyone’s legs are longer than my arms, so when I isolate the leg via the foot grip they straighten their leg and can kinda keep me at bay. How do I respond?

    Further: I’m feeling very far away in general. perhaps I’ll try the same tactics, but with my feet closer to my opponent so walking around their guard is easier.

    1. Use your legs to shuffle around them.

      Remember, you have your legs in addition to arms, not to mention the added length and restricted access to torso standing gives you. Them straightening their legs actually makes them weaker as it exposes their torso.

      Also, what they give you determines the pass. They can’t cover all bases, and over-compensating to cut off a route opens up another. Generally, people give you the same pass over and over because they have a bread and butter defense that serves as a samich (sandwich) for lunch if you know it’s coming.

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