Get Past Your Opponent With These 4 Essential BJJ Guard Passes

Passing the guard is a vital part of Jiu-Jitsu. Without the ability to pass your opponent’s guard, you might find yourself stuck on the outside of your opponent, unable to engage in the manner you prefer, and unable to work your way to a submission. Some athletes have incredible open guard games, making the need to master some basic guard passes even more vital. 

If you are looking for some solid, effective, and essential guard passes to add to your Jiu-Jitsu game, be sure to check these out. 


Guard Basics

Let’s start with the basics. In order to pass the guard, you must climb an imaginary ladder on your opponent. This means starting with controlling the feet, then controlling the knees and the hips, and eventually locking in the upper body. Once the upper body is “locked in” in some capacity, you are essentially past your opponent’s guard. 

While playing with passing your opponent’s guard, you can find and create many of your own guard passes once you understand the fundamentals of what you are trying to do and accomplish. That being said, sometimes having a couple of fundamentally solid guard passes to explore and implement will help you to find the things you like or don’t like while exploring your guard passing game.

Here are four essential Jiu-Jitsu guard passes to get past your opponent’s guard.


1) Knee Cut Pass

The knee cut pass is an incredibly popular and essential guard pass for your game. This pass is based on the idea of pinning one of your opponent’s legs to the ground while you “cut” through to side control. Here’s how to implement the knee cut pass: 

  • Utilize your hands on your opponent’s knees to separate their legs from each other. The goal is to get one leg up and one leg down on the ground. 
  • Using your inside leg, slide your knee through the gap, “pinning” your opponent’s leg to the ground with your shin.
  • Focus on controlling your opponent’s opposite shoulder to avoid them getting on their edge and beginning to escape while passing.
  • Connect chest to chest as you slide through with your knee to complete the pass.

The knee cut pass is a great option for passing the guard. It’s fairly straightforward, simple to execute, and a great option for beginners to explore. This pass works in both gi and no-gi.


2) Smash/Pressure Pass

The smash or pressure pass is an excellent option to pass the guard utilizing your body weight. Even for smaller people, this is an incredibly effective and fundamental guard pass that everyone should explore and add to their game. Here’s how to execute the smash/guard pass:

  • While facing your opponent, use your hands on their knees to get their knees together and to one side.
  • As you begin to move their legs to one side, drop your hips on top of their legs to force both legs to the mat. 
  • Aim to get your chest to their chest. 
  • Maintain level hips and shoulders as you aim to slide up higher, keeping your opponent’s knees smashed to the ground the entire time.
  • Options: you can actually use your initial smash of the legs to move to either the back or the belly of your opponent, based on their response and reaction.

The smash/pressure pass is an excellent option for guard passing as it renders your opponent’s legs useless for re-guarding as you pass. Be sure to stay heavy and flat as you slide up to complete the pass in order to avoid getting swept. This pass works well for both gi and no-gi Jiu-Jitsu.


3) Double Under Pass

The double under pass is yet another pass that all Jiu-Jitsu athletes should know and try. It is executed by getting under both of your opponent’s legs (“double” referring to “both legs”). This pass has the added bonus of being rather uncomfortable on your opponent, as it adds a lot of pressure on their body. Here’s how to do the double under pass:

  • Start facing your opponent. This pass works best when your opponent’s feet are already elevated, perhaps to your hips, but you can also work to elevate their feet, too. 
  • Drop into a lowered position. Combat base works well. 
  • Using your arms, scoop under each of your opponent’s legs. Drive your elbows forward through your opponent’s legs. 
  • As you drive forward, keep pressure on your opponent’s legs to make them uncomfortable as they get “folded in half.”
  • Begin moving and pressuring around your opponent while keeping pressure with both your arms and your body on their legs.
  • As you pass around the side, aim to get chest to chest to complete the pass.

The double under pass is an easy-to-learn pass with many smaller details for more experienced practitioners to add in over time. It is a pass that works for both gi and no-gi, and should be explored by all Jiu-Jitsu athletes.


4) Toreando Pass

The Toreando Pass is another excellent pass that everyone who does Jiu-Jitsu should learn. This pass works for both gi and no-gi and is easy to learn and execute. Here’s how to do a Toreando pass:

  • Grab ahold of your opponent’s legs, typically their ankles. 
  • Step back to get your opponent’s legs extended out from their body and pinned to the ground in front of them. 
  • While maintaining your opponent’s feet on the ground, move your body around their legs to pass. There are several ways to do this, but your goal is to move around the legs and get control of the upper body since their legs are extended. 

This is an excellent pass for all levels that works well when you are able to get your opponent’s legs extended and pinned away from their body. 


Essential Guard Passes To Get Past Your Opponent In Jiu-Jitsu

Regardless of your belt level, and regardless of whether you prefer to roll in gi or no-gi, these four passes are ideal for all Jiu-Jitsu athletes. These passes give you a variety of movements and angles to explore against your opponent and will help you to explore and find other ways to pass the guard, as well. If you are looking for some solid, essential guard passes for your Jiu-Jitsu game, be sure to give these four passes a try. 


You may also like:

Ten Common Mistakes BJJ Newbies Make