Here’s How To Effectively Pass The Knee Shield Half-Guard

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, playing against opponents specializing in the half-guard can be challenging. Sweeps, submissions, wrestling up, and leg entanglements are the most common ways the half guard is utilized, and to make things worse, these can be chained with one another. In the modern meta, grapplers need to know how to deal with the half-guard, as half-guard passing is one of the most effective ways to pass the guard. Today, we will discuss how to effectively pass the knee shield half-guard in BJJ.


What Is The Knee Shield?

The knee shield is a variation of the half guard in BJJ. The half guard is where your bottom leg is hooking (trapping) one of your opponent’s legs, particularly behind their knee, as they try to pass kneeling; regardless of what you do with your top leg, be it by locking with your bottom leg or by framing it on the opponent’s chest. Your hands are used to frame the opponent’s chest, shoulder, or neck to keep the distance and prevent them from dropping pressure and smashing your guard.

Now, with the knee shield, your top leg is bent, and your knee and shin are used as a “shield” across the opponent’s upper body to prevent them from dropping their weight and neutralizing your leg and hips as a line of defense, which they can use to advance and control your torso with a crossface. Your hands are used as a frame or a way to set up submissions or wrestle-ups while reaching for the opponent’s far hip. Remember to land on one side of your glute when playing the half guard and keep your upper body rounded.


Knee Shield Passing

Now, let’s move on to passing the knee shield half-guard.

Preferably, you want to block the opponent’s knee shield before you go to their side, as it will be difficult to control the opponent’s hips and hand fight to push their knee shield out. Thus, it would help if you squared the opponent’s hips and stance first to get inside their leg.

Starting from the seated open guard, assuming you’re passing on the left, place your right hand next to the opponent’s far hip and use your forearm to block their leg. Now, when you move to the left side to pass, and the opponent will try to move their leg in for the knee shield, you can stop their leg using your elbow as they can use their leg to swing on top and land on a shallow lasso and regain the knee shield. Keep your head low and close to your hand to make it harder for the opponent to pummel their leg over the top.

If the opponent already has the knee shield, you must return to the center and get your grips. Grab the opponent’s bottom leg using your left hand while your right hand posts on their hip. Walk backward in a circular motion to square up the opponent, place your right hand back on their far hip, and frame your elbow to their leg to gain inside control.

The third option to pass the knee shield is by controlling the opponent’s top leg ankle (knee shield leg) by pushing it down and stepping wide. You will swing your hips around and in front of the knee shield in this pass. As soon as you push their top leg down using the ankle grip and clear the line of the leg, switch your hips straight away, like how you perform a reverse kesa gatame. From here, you can work on passing from the switch base position.

When doing this pass as you step wide, remember not to step with your left leg too close to the opponent, as they may be able to grab it. As you switch base, remember to drop your left knee underneath the opponent’s bottom leg so that you will pinch it. Not doing so will enable the opponent to take your back.

Sometimes, you can use your trapped leg to control the opponent’s bottom leg by kneeling on the mat. In this fourth option, also known as the leg weave pass, instead of posting your right hand on the opponent’s far hip, you can weave through over their top leg and place it on their bottom leg to control them both. Your left hand will be used to apply a grip.

Typically, you can use your left hand to pin the opponent’s near arm and your head to pin the opponent’s torso. You can go for a crossface if the opponent is lying down, but most of the time, they will use their hands to frame your upper body. To free your trapped leg (right leg), stand up on a tripod and use a knee-cut motion on top of the opponent’s bottom shin. As you free your leg, do a windshield wiper movement to land on the side.

The fifth passing option is when the opponent uses a low knee shield. Rather than posting on their far hip, use your right hand to reach around to their back and pull your elbow tight with your chest over the knee shield. Your left hand blocks the opponent’s bottom leg from recovering the guard and puts your pressure down by posting your head on the mat beside their chest.

While this position may seem like the Z guard, use your trapped leg to face to the left and pummel it above the opponent’s bottom leg; from this position, you can maintain the tripod and jump (cartwheel) to the opposite side to finish the pass. If the opponent tries to catch you by extending their knee shield as you jump to the other side and come back down, you will land straight for the knee cut.

The last option is to trap the opponent’s bottom leg by pinching your legs. If the opponent has a high knee shield, keep your right hand posted on their far hip. Keep your chest forward on their knee shield’s shin while keeping your hips low. Step your right leg wide to the opposite side and circle backward as you sprawl down the mat to flatten the opponent.



Dealing with the knee shield can be annoying, especially when the opponent wants to stay in the position. Remember to control the opponent’s hips, legs, and their near hand when dealing with the knee shield to prevent them from creating space and eventually controlling you inside their game.


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