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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

25 August 2013

25/08/2013 - Study Hall (Breaking & Passing Closed Guard)

Class #519
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Study Hall, Bristol, UK - 25/08/2013

Fairly small turn-out today, but still enough for me to get in plenty of drilling on passing the closed guard with a couple of different training partners. The first thing I did was that grip break I saw on BJJ Library, which I think Dave has also put onto YouTube so everyone can see it. When they grab your sleeve, circle your hand underneath theirs. Spread your thumb and index finger, then jam the 'v' shape that creates by the bottom of their hand (just by the start of their palm). Being with your arm bent, then thrust it forward firmly to knock off their grip.

That seemed to work quite well, though sometimes I didn't thrust my hand forward firmly enough, meaning they still had their grip. I'm also not entirely sure I'm putting the 'v' of my hand in the optimum place to generate leverage. I'll keep playing with it, but I think I'm now confident enough that it's functional to add it to the 'preparing the pass' class I'll teach next week. I've taught it before, but will reduce the content a bit, so it becomes just pointers on posture and staying safe in somebody's closed guard, along with some grip breaks.

I then ran through the sequence from the closed guard break and pass private with Dónal earlier this week. It was useful to not just drill it with light resistance, but then also have them try to resist, until finally they did it on me. Especially with Jamie, that brought up several details for me to consider. Drilling with both Luke and Jamie, I felt relatively secure once I had opened the guard and got the cross-face (I just need to make sure I control the far elbow as I pass, so they can't turn away). The danger is mainly earlier on.

To initially get that tight grip on both collars makes it difficult to break their grips, because my hands are already engaged. However, if I have that arm in place near their chest, then their grips aren't as important, because it becomes much harder for them to break my posture. Wriggling back to get the guard open can be difficult, but when I've got it open, I need to kick my foot forward immediately and also watch out for their knee coming across (you can still pass if it does, but it means you need a different pass).

Controlling the hips is an area I've found hard whenever I've tried this pass in the past. The idea is that the hand you have pressing down into their hip helps on that front. Perhaps I just need to focus more on maximising my downwards pressure? That would still seem to leave the other hip open, which I could block with my knee, but I need my need for driving into the tailbone. Again, something to keep practicing in drilling.

With Jamie, he tends to open his guard when he senses you've got into a good guard breaking position. That's a good idea, as you always want to open your guard on your terms. It means I need to react before he does, but also be ready to switch to an open guard pass rather than closed. Jamie's preferred method is probably what I'd do: he aims to break open the closed guard, then immediately pop back and grab the knees, moving into a bullfighter style of pass.

Something else he mentioned, when showing me how he likes to do the break, is that rather than the collars he grabs the belt. The reason I don't normally go for the belt is that if it comes untied you're stuck, but it remains a handy grip when it is tied. That way I don't spend any time fiddling with collars: I'll be giving the belt grip a try too, rather than dismissing it out of hand like I was previously.


  1. Passing on the ground is something I really want to master. I've heard that it's a thing of the past, but I'm focusing on it.

    The hip control is something I still have issues with, especially on larger opponents. I'm starting to try just bracing with my fists though, as opposed to an open palm, to avoid wrist locks.

  2. Yeah, I'm the same. I often see people discounting passing from your knees, saying that to pass you absolutely have to stand up (I've said it myself), but I'm really keen to try and develop a good kneeling break.

    That private lesson I mentioned has helped, but I think the main thing is going to be drilling it over and over again at open mats.

    It would interesting to take a private from Roy Harris on the topic. He apparently is great on those low pressure passes: he talked about it on one of those occasional Inside BJJ interviews that are worth pushing through the banter for (#78). ;)