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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

02 July 2013

02/07/2013 - Teaching (Passing the Knee Shield)

Teaching #112
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 02/07/2013

Unlike the last time I went through passing knee shield, I wanted to try and start with a different passing option. I was a bit uncertain how it might fit into the lesson, but it's the method from a private lesson a while ago, which came up in the process of talking about passing open guard. While you're going for the knee cut, you might find you've messed it up somewhere along the line and they've managed to get their knee across. This is essentially a knee shield, although it is liable to be relatively loose in this scenario.

To continue the pass, basically all you do is slide your trapped knee backwards, collapse on top of their knees, then adjust your position in order to drive drive you hips into the 'dead leg' spot on their leg. Put a knee on either side of their legs, then trap them in place with your weight by sinking your hips towards the mat. When they move, twist to put all your weight into that 'dead leg' spot, then back step and take side control.

If when you collapse their knees you end up lying on your own arm, you need to pull that out, but avoid lifting up and giving your opponent space. Turn your hand so the little finger is at the bottom, then pull directly back towards your elbow. There should be barely any lifting of your upper body.

As I said before, Jason Scully demonstrates some other options in what he calls the staple pass. Scully puts his head down onto the mat by their armpit in order to maintain control. His far arm has an elbow close to the mat: Scully notes you can also reach for an underhook. He takes hold of the lower knee with his hand to stop them moving.

The 'staple' part is a little different. Similar to how you can circle back with your leg to add a brace for the half guard smash pass from a a while ago, to beat the knee shield you can circle your leg back to brace against the lower part of their bottom leg, in order to hold it in place. Cut your other knee across, basing the bracing leg out and stepping it forward. From here, it is possible to continue through and pass.

Scully's version also involves a change of direction. Shift your grip to their top knee, clamping that to the mat. Use that, your other arm and your head for base, then hop your legs over to the other side, establishing side control. It is much the same motion as in Kev's xmas guard passing drills in 2012.

Teaching Notes: I'm still not sure I have this lesson down. The first bit sounds simple, but requires some sensitivity. In the private lesson, I was having trouble getting it until Dónal showed me a great drill for developing that awareness of the right pressure, where you surf their knees from side to side, moving them with the insides of your own knees. Tonight some people were similarly having some issues, although it was more that they were still getting stuck on feet hooking around their legs.

Like Mike said, this probably works better when it follows on from the knee cut pass (which after all is how I learned it). Next time, I should probably go with the knee shield pass Dónal demonstrated in the past, where you drive your knee over their bottom leg and stretch out their arm. However, I think the staple pass is a good option, so I'll keep that in there.

I didn't get to do much sparring, due to how the numbers worked out (two neat groups of three), but I did manage to grab Berry for a quick roll towards the end. I'm looking forward to hearing more about his Brazil trip, particularly as he trained at the same place I would choose if for some reason I ever decided to brave the ominous streets of Rio (no matter what anybody tells me, I still don't feel comfortable enough about the crime rates there to go for a visit, along with the fact that unlike the USA, Brazil isn't stuffed with people I know online and I'm keen to meet).


  1. I wanted to say that I thought these techniques would be easier to learn if one had previous learned the folding pass from butterfly (where it is most straightforward). I'm using Marcelo's terminology there, I think other people (eg. lovato jr) often call it the smash pass. I think from butterfly there are fewer fiddly bits with the legs and you can concentrate more on getting your weight in the right position. Just a thought.

  2. Ah right, probably not the same thing I thought you meant, in that case. I've seen 'smash pass' used to describe at least three quite different passes, so given the joys of BJJ terminology, probably easiest if you just show me what you mean next time I see you in class. ;)