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5 Biggest Guard Passing Mistakes

There are more techniques Brazilian Jiu Jitsu than we can count! One of the most commonly used skill is learning how to pass the guard. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to pass the guard!

  1. Learn to pass in both directions

Most schools encourage you to try every technique on both sides. Sometimes, if they don’t actively encourage it, they do not try to stop it. Here at Aces we are pretty strict about focusing on one side specifically, especially on techniques that are based strongly in direction like guard passing.

I used to be on the fence about this, until one day I was training with Royler Gracie and he gave me some fantastic advice. He asked me whether it would be better to become a master at one side, or to be okay at both sides. And I thought about what Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” And I realized that becoming a master is the far SUPERIOR option. The rising tide raises all ships, so by focusing on one you will naturally get better at both. You will also get to a point much more quickly where you have a technique that most people can’t stop.

That’s what you want to focus on—especially when you’re first starting.

  1. Let your opponent close their guard.

This is a VERY assumed  mistake. What I mean is that no one is going around saying, “Oh, you should really let people close their guard around you,” but rather that we train it into people accidentally.

As a community we’ve become really unconcerned about being in closed guard. We start most of our training drills inside closed guard, so that we can learn how to pop it open. The problem is, that should be a worst case scenario, and while learning to deal with the worst case scenario is important, the last thing we want to do is train people to accept that worst case scenario instead of training to prevent it. People start to think of closed guard as a resting position. That’s not correct! Pass the guard first and then rest. Opening someone’s guard is very difficult. So get into the mentality that you should stop them from closing it in the first place.

The day I said no to closed guard was the first day of the rest of my life.

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  1. Focus on low passes.

I see people develop their entire guard passing game around low passes—where your torso is really close to your opponent’s torso. The problem with that is that in low passes your posture is broken and your spine is bent, so even if you’re really strong, your game is now centered around a position where you’re naturally a lot weaker than you previously would have been. You’re also playing in what I like to call the danger zone—when you’re on top, but really close to your opponent, which is where you need to be for them to reverse you, take your back, or otherwise improve their position. There’s nothing good that can come from that happening.

Learn high passes and stay out of danger.

  1. Learn leg locks instead of learning how to pass the guard.

There are a whole bunch of people who build their entire game around stepping through to 50/50 and then attempting to leg lock instead of actually passing the guard. This works on blue belts, but once people have a more refined game they’ll just stand up and get out of it and then pass your 50/50 into side control. Fancy stuff is cool, but you need to learn how to actually progress to another position, instead of sitting into a guard—that won’t work out well for you.

I’ve heard people argue, “Gary Tonon does it.” You’re not Gary Tonon. He also has a well-developed game in other places, including guard passing, sweeping, and side mount. So don’t create a blind spot by focusing on the legs and putting yourself in a situation where the legs get taken out.

Remember, let’s just go one step at a time.

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  1. Manage people’s hands.

A lot of instructors teach grip breaks. For example, if they grab your collar you have to strip their hand before you can continue. But the real problem in a guard pass is not their hands, it’s their legs. If you have your hands where they need to be, it doesn’t matter what he does with his hands he won’t be able to break your posture down. So if they’re gripping my collar and grabbing my head and neck and what have you, instead of leaving my game I’ll identify what the real issue is, and then effectively tear that down.

These are AWESOME tips to help you avoid the biggest guard passing mistakes!

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