08 September 2017

Video Review - Precise Pressure Passing (Paul Schreiner)

Short Review: A densely packed instructional from Digitsu, featuring Paul Schreiner's famously detailed instruction. The teaching flows through from the first technique, presenting a narrative sequence of the kind of things that could happen when you try and pass the guard.

Schreiner begins by opening closed guard, progressing into passing half guard. He then presents a scenario where they have managed to insert a single butterfly hook, before dealing with full butterfly guard. The bulk of the passing is done from those three positions. Available from Digitsu for a very reasonable $25, or slightly more if you want a DVD version.

Full Review: Paul Schreiner is a highly regarded instructor teaching at the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York. In this app from Digitsu, he focuses on guard passing, mostly built around the situations that can arise from butterfly guard. Each video finishes with a replay from multiple angles. Schreiner always wears a white gi, his drilling partner stays in black. It surprises me how many instructionals don't do that: it's important to be able to distinguish between limbs and grips. Another big plus point to Digitsu instructionals is that they can be downloaded for later viewing, either on your phone or from the website version.

I encountered some minor technical issues with that, as if I don't first log into the Digitsu app on my phone with an internet connection, then I get an error message. Still, as long as I log in first, I can access videos I've previously downloaded (it is also entirely possible this is an issue specific to my phone: checking with Digitsu, they should be there for around a month before you need to refresh with the server). There is a chapter list detailing each technique, enabling you to jump straight to the one you're looking for. To see that menu, rotate your phone to portrait, then for a maximised view of the video, rotate to landscape. There is a browser version too, meaning you can view the videos on a larger screen. Any purchases you make through Digitsu will be sat in your library, so you can access them anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.

The instructional begins with a two minute introduction. Schreiner quickly fills in his background, then emphasises his concept that pressure passing can connect to all the other elements of your passing game. Precise Pressure Passing starts where you might expect, in the closed guard (a little under five minutes). This is somewhat different to what I've been shown in the past in terms of opening, as Schreiner's head remains forward (I'm more familiar with a more upright position, as if you're weightlifting, avoiding eye contact to maintain posture).

Apart from that, it's a relatively standard motion where you shove their leg down and immediately bring your knee over the top of their shin. I am used to then kicking back and going to side control, but Schreiner prefers to drive straight through into mount. He secures a solid grip on the head, then his other leg comes back and pushes through. When I tried teaching it earlier this year, it looked as though most of the students got the motion down ok.

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There is a clear progression through the passes, so closed guard is followed by a half guard knee slice (five and a half minutes), providing a plan B if that drive for mount is thwarted. I taught this one just before christmas last year, finding that it provided an intriguing new option for passing. Rather than worrying too much about an underhook, the focus here is on dominating the near side arm. With enough control, that can be the basis of a pass, crushing it into the mat so they cannot spin to your back. An underhook is still useful, but as Schreiner points out, you could theoretically pass with just that arm control. A key point is getting the hips to stay over the mat, which initially feels counter-intuitive. I'm not sure if I'll be using this regularly, but I found what I'm calling the 'arm squash pass' useful because it feels quite different to what I would normally do to pass half guard, without being overly complicated.

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Schreiner then moves into a general discussion of the layers of half guard defence (a little over seven minutes). I would have expected this to come before the previous video, but presumably that was still treated as part of the passing closed guard section that kicked off the instructional. Either way, the layers video was the highlight of the instructional for me. Schreiners gives the viewer a broad approach to getting past the half guard, discussing the obstacles you might encounter, especially how to prevent them making space. Getting head control is a major part of that, pummelling in. If you can't use your arms, you have to use your hip instead.

It might mean you have to step over to the other side and pass from there. If that still isn't working, Schreiner suggests moving back around to the other side. Another possibility is that your opponent is trying to get underneath, into deep half. Schreiner explains his deep half passing at around the five and a half minute mark into the video (which I taught last December, a handily simple way to pass the deep half). That all combines into a flowing sequence, which Schreiner suggests you could do as a drill. This time, there is no replay: it felt as if all the good info in here could have been split into multiple videos, but I can see the argument for keeping it as a single flowing sequence too. That fits with the style of the MGinAction videos I watched when I review that site a while back.

Up next, Schreiner delves into shoulder pressure principles (four minutes). He switches gears in order to describe those principles, showing how they apply from side control rather than when passing half guard. Schreiner demonstrates how you can generate so much pressure that it can be used as a submission, all his weight pressing into the neck (a similar principle to some breadcutter type chokes, where you're relying a lot on driving your forearm into the side of their neck). Schreiner emphasises that while it can be a submission, often your opponent will lift their hips instead to relieve pressure, giving you a route to mount.

Returning to half guard, the twisting half guard pass (slightly more than seven minutes) replays the sequence from the beginning, where they manage to snatch half guard after you open the closed guard. Schreiner applies that same shoulder pressure to progress into a twisting half guard pass. Having a powerful control of their head provides options for passing, though as Schreiner warns, be careful of their bump (my class just before we closed for christmas focused on this pass, hence all the cheesy snowmen and holly in the video ;D). Schreiner does not grab the leg and pull, instead he uses his elbow to wriggle their leg off, prying his knee free while maintaining his pressure. He then drives the knee through, secures an underhook, using that to squeeze his way into mount.

The next video adds in some details, using neck control (six minutes). This time, the aim is to drive their knee to the mat, getting your head next to theirs, lots of shoulder pressure. The knee drives through from that position, either progressing into the previous pass. The twist in this case is having the knees in one direction, the head in the other. Schreiners comments that this pass is best suited to nogi, reaching under the head and grabbing their neck. He rolls the head across and drives the shoulder, which Schreiner states can be used in lots of other passing sequences. He emphasises the importance of discomfort, something which is significant in that supine twist.

Just under five minutes is then devoted to passing versus deep half. If you know they like deep half, you'll need to be wary of them digging space underneath. Blocking their arm is an initial option, putting your arm in the way so they can no longer reach. Schreiner rolls his hip across, other arm out for base. His leg kicks back and hooks to secure his position. At this point, you could do the previous technique, or kick your non hooking leg to free it. That then sweeps back, progressing to mount. There is a lot of fine detail to most of these passes, meaning that it could be difficult for a beginner decipher.

Next up, Schreiner talks about passing versus lockdown (five and a half minutes). He highlights the importance of getting a nearside underhook so they can't reach under your legs. Roll your trapped leg hip to the floor, slapping your leg to the mat. Your other foot lifts their heel up, in order to bring your previously trapped leg underneath. Alternatively, your free leg slides all the way down and hooks their leg, lifting it up and away to prevent the lockdown being secured.

The rest of the instructional is heavily focused on butterfly and its variations. There are six half butterfly passes, then four full butterfly passes. If you are not regularly dealing with butterfly, that's a lot of content. However, if you are - as I assume is the case at the Marcelo Garcia Academy and other schools/competitions - this is exactly what you're looking for. The first pass (six minutes) talks initially about controlling an arm, but only if you can keep their shoulders flat. If you don't have sufficient control of the arm, then you need to remove their ability to lift by grabbing the non-hooking leg. Balancing on your head and leg, when they try to sweep, you just pull that leg, then if they try to recover guard, push it. The grip is important here, so in my case, I'd need to make sure my fingers were well-taped before using that one. ;)

Another six minutes explores a different perspective on dealing with the half butterfly. It could be you shoot into the previous passing position against a standard butterfly, as you're confident with that pass. Schreiner highlights the position he wants with his shoulder and head, then how you can slide through from that tripod structure to beat their leg. Getting control of their arm is important for the finish, securing side control. The third option against half butterfly is a folding pass (three and a half minutes). When you try to kick of their hook this time, they follow you, meaning their knee has to follow too. In that situation, Schreiner brings his knee into the back of their leg, tucking your other toes under. The end goal here is to move up into mount.

The classic knee slice can apply against half butterfly too, which Schreiner shows for three and a half minutes. His leg drives forward then cuts in, sliding across into a knee slide style motion. However, he doesn't continue to slide into side control, instead adjusting to drive into mount instead. I wasn't sure what to expect from half butterfly reverse underhook (a little under five minutes), as I wasn't sure what the non-reverse version would look like, but that's just a matter of terminology.

The jumping leg drag (four and a half minutes) is what Schreiner calls this a 'rescue move', such as when you're against somebody with very long legs. They also might manage to get some kind of x-guard, pushing you back and removing your strong shoulder control. Schreiner suggests an acrobatic kick, flinging your body over to the other side. If that introduces too much space for an adept guard player, he tries to land directly into a leg drag, his thigh tight against the back of their leg. That provides a little more security than attempting to drop right into side control.

Getting to full butterfly (six and a half minutes), he starts with a body lock, elbows to knees and everything tight. He kicks a hook free by bringing his leg back, then brings the other leg over their knee. A quick push with the knees shoves their legs across, whereupon you release the body lock and progress to side control. Unlike the half butterfly material, this is something I'm familiar with. If they underhook, sag your arm down to be heavy, then do the same pass again. You might even be able to do a big step to beat his knee, then wriggle through into mount. Should they get double underhooks, get your head to their chest, dropping your armpits to flop heavily down. The other passes are then viable, or even just walking around because their arms are occupied.

Butterfly pass number two (slightly over six and a half minutes) starts by getting their back flat on the mat. This time, you're stepping over the knee, hooking it, then wriggling forwards into mount. The third pass (four and a half minutes) is from the same situation, again clearing their knee and hooking it. However, this time they manage to keep their other hook high, releasing to establish a half guard. Schreiner rolls his hip down and pushes the leg down, connecting back to some of the earlier passes. The section finishes with a particularly long video on a butterfly folding pass (almost ten minutes).

This is one of the other passes I've tried teaching several times now, as I liked the principle. You squat on their shins in a butterfly type position, squashing their legs, while securing your position by grabbing their lapels. You're still upright, using gravity to your advantage. If they mess up, you might be able to slide directly to mount. Normally they'll be wise to that, so you're waiting to get a knee to cross the centre line. As soon as it does, collapse your weight on top, pinning their legs together. The basic concept is straightforward enough, which Schreiner then connects with previous passes.

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Preventing one leg x takes slightly over five minutes. This can happen from what I call the leg sit pass, which Schreiner refers to as a folding pass. With too much space, they might be able to enter into single-leg x. That's another position I rarely encounter, so my frame of reference for it is hazy. However, what Schreiner said about having multiple gripping patterns for upper body control in passes made sense. He gave the example that if you can't get shoulder pressure, you could instead drive your head under their chin, holding the back of their collar.

The penultimate technique is passing shin-to-shin guard. Schreiner's scenario is that you've stood up from butterfly guard to gain mobility and speed. They respond by moving into shin to shin guard. As with butterfly guard, the response is to drive their back flat on the mat, then getting that powerful shoulder pressure like before. There is some similarity with half butterfly here, trying to kick the leg off in order to slide through.

Finally, unable to prevent one leg x, Schreiner spends five and a half minutes passing one-leg x. He turns his knee in, pushes their hooking foot, then puts his hand behind his leg. It looks unusual, but the idea is to block their hip with that arm. They have control of your foot, so you can't mount until you get that back. Sometimes it is a matter of waiting, such as if they try and push into your chest.

This instructional is dense with information, requiring a lot of study and unpacking: I've spent over a year going through the techniques and have still only scraped the surface of what Schreiner is sharing. There is a heavy focus on butterfly guard, which I don't encounter as much in my own training (the leg sit pass is the one that has made the biggest impact on my game so far, a pass I try regularly now in sparring). From that selfish perspective, I would have therefore preferred to see details about passing positions like the knee shield and a standard open guard. It would be very interesting to see Schreiner teach material that I come across more often, so hopefully he will do further instructionals for Digitsu in the future.

Precise Pressure Passing is available from Digitsu for a very reasonable $25 for the on-demand version, working out at roughly $1 per technique. There is also the option of a DVD if you prefer, which is $40: an on-demand version is included in that price.

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