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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

30 August 2017

30/08/2017 - Teaching | Half Guard | Opposite Side Pass

Teaching #698
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 30/08/2017

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.

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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 regularly teach during half guard 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.


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A useful tip from Fran Vanderstukken is to pull their knee across, which twists their spin. Your free leg is behind you for base, preventing them rolling you over. You can then yank their top leg towards you and extricate your foot. If you require more leverage, push on their bottom leg with your free foot. You can also try stepping 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. If all that fails, you could swing back over to the other side and knee cut, but be careful of back takes (if you can get an underhook it will help, holding the head may not be enough control).

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.
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Teaching Notes: It's essential to pin super tight with that cross face. I like to talk about driving the shoulder into the palm of your hand. I also talked about driving a stake through their head, but that's a rather aggressive metaphor, I want to come up with something less extreme. ;)

Another thing is sitting right down when you've flipped to the other side, hip on the mat. If you're too high up onto them, that makes you lighter in terms of their efforts to roll you over. Counter-intuitive I guess, as normally it is good to put your weight on them. Though you are still doing that, you're just focusing it through your shoulder into the cross face. Basing out with your foot is important too, for a similar reason, stop them rolling you.

Video points, when I was demonstrating without a partner I pushed with the wrong leg to 'free' my leg from invisible partner, remember it's the basing leg that pushes. Also, worth emphasising that on the switch to the knee cut, you have to be careful they can't take your back. There is the rolling back take as well, it would be good to teach that in a sequence that goes from hip switch pass, kimura pass, opposite side pass and then finally back take. That will require copious open mat drilling first, of course. :)

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