A Blue Belt Guard Passing Mistake

Jeremy Vineyard / Flickr Creative Commons

I have observed many skilled blue belts who commit a tactical mistake while passing the guard. This frustrates them time and time again.

They know the correct pass for the type of guard, but the pass doesn’t work. Worse yet, they end up getting passed or submitted!

What is the mistake?

They fail to correctly control the distance between them and the guard passer.

Allow me to illustrate with an example from the striking arts.

When boxing or doing Muay Thai, you can not stand in the pocket, where you can easily be punched or kicked by your opponent! You are either clinched (too close) or at a defensive range (too far) where you can not be hit.

The same principle goes for guard passing: don’t stay in the range where your opponent can:

  • Get underneath your base and sweep you
  • Control your arms with strong lasso or spider guard hooks
  • Attack you with arm locks, triangles, and omoplatas

I see this so many times with spider guard. The spider guard player has the medium range where his hooks are strong and he may apply much pressure and tight sleeve control. It is a BIG mistake for the passer to agree to fight in the guard player’s ideal range.

The solution: control the distance to your advantage.

If you are passing with pressure (ex. over under pass), get CLOSE to the opponent and apply pressure to control the guard player’s hip movement. Take a step forward and smash off the guard player’s hip movements.

If you are passing with distance and speed (ex. bullfighter pass), get FAR from the opponent and avoid the guard player’s controls and leverage. Take a step back and reduce the tension of the guard player’s grips. Stay out of the range of her hooks and pass to the outside.

As one purple belt succinctly put it: “You have to decide: Are you passing CLOSE or FAR Don’t pass in the middle range!”

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