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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

19 February 2015

19/02/2015 - Teaching | Half Guard | Opposite Side Pass

Teaching #282
Artemis BJJ (PHNX Fitness), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 19/02/2015

Same class as yesterday, as there were different students present compared to Wednesday. I first learned this pass from Roger Gracie a few years ago, getting some further great details from Ed Beneville and Tim Cartmell's excellent book. Beneville and Cartmell refer to the position as 'inverted half guard', but I prefer Saulo's nomenclature from Jiu Jitsu University: he uses the term 'opposite side pass'.'Inverted' is mainly associated with being upside down in BJJ, so I'll stick with Saulo.

The orthodox method to pass the half guard is to get a similar 'super-hold' (as Xande calls it) as you would in side control, then use shoulder pressure to hold them in place as you bounce your leg free and slide through. That's what I taught earlier this month. With the opposite side pass, you're also trying to control their upper body. In Saulo's version of the pass, on p307 of his book, they already have an underhook. He therefore grips over the top of that underhooking arm, securing it by gripping the gi material by the small of their back.

Posting on his free hand, he then swings his free leg over, ending up sat next to them. He suggests grabbing their knee initially, then shifting to grabbing the far hip. If you prefer, you can grab the knee and maintain that grip, to prevent a counter they can try where they open their half guard then hook under your knee. They can then lift and drive through to the top position.

My personal preference is to start the pass by reaching under their head with the arm on the same side as your trapped leg. This may feel counter-intuitive, as normally that is the arm you would use to underhook, but that's because you're swinging over to the other side. This is effectively a cross-face on the opposite side, which you lock in fully once you're over to the other side, driving your shoulder into their cheek/jaw to prevent them turning their head towards you. It's also key that after swinging to the other side, you post firmly on your outside leg, angling the knee towards their body. This should stop them bridging into you and getting a reversal.

Finally, you need to extricate your trapped leg. The simplest approach is to push on their bottom leg with your free foot, extricating yourself from half guard and taking top side control. The problem with that is it reduces your base, so they might be able to capitalise and reverse you. Not to say it isn't possible, but it requires your cross-face to be really solid. A slightly safer option is to step the basing leg in front of their leg, using it as a wedge. That means it both blocks their movement but still provides you with base. Another possibility is pulling their leg towards you in order to help create the space to free yourself.

A slight variation on this pass comes from the Beneville book: if you can get this one, it's probably the tightest option. Before you swing over, open up their lapel on the free leg side. Pass the end of their gi to the hand you have under their head and feed it through. Push their head slightly towards the trapped leg side, then shove your head in the space you’ve created. You can use your head for base, along with your free hand if required.

After you've swung over, watch out for a counter they may try, which is to lift up your leg with their far foot, flipping you over. To re-counter that, immediately switch from holding the knee to hooking behind their knee with your arm. That should stop them lifting for the sweep. Alternatively, you can also do a big step over to the other side as they try to flip you to your back.

Teaching Notes: The extra fifteen minutes on Thursdays meant I could run through a variation on the pass, which is useful but I don't think it's essential to teach. I'm a big fan of the two passes I taught this week and use them in combination to pass half guard. However, I'm wondering if I should be looking to expand my repertoire for passing half guard. Either way, I'll be moving on to knee shield next week, with some basic maintenance, a couple of sweeps and a pass to finish off February.

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