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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 February 2019

25/02/2019 - Teaching | Open Guard | Bullfighter pass

Teaching #839
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 25/02/2019

To pass the open guard, it is advisable to grip on the inside of both their knees for control (though not everyone would agree on that: others suggest gripping lower on the trousers by their shin, knuckles facing forward, or even at the bottom of the trousers). The main danger is that they will try to loop their leg over your arm, which you can mitigate by gripping a little lower than the knee. If their legs are raised, twist your elbows in, so that your forearms are parallel to their lower legs.

Be sure to keep your elbows inside their knees: if they do manage to loop an arm, you may need to release and then re-grip back inside their knee. That means you can then start to move their legs in several directions. There are many variations of the bullfighter pass (also called the toreador, toreana, toreada, toreando and matador, among other names. Google tells me the Portuguese for bullfighter is in fact 'toureiro'),

Tonight, the focus was driving forwards into them with the bullfighter pass, after you've established your grips inside their knees. That should generate a reaction, as they will kick back. Direct that kick to your side as you step around. Saulo likes to open out their far leg while pulling their near leg across his body. That motion should swivel them in place for an easy pass. Even simpler, as you drive in and they react, fire their legs out to the side as you step around.

Alternatively, if they don't react, you can still pass after having driven their knees towards their chest. Thrust one leg forward, then step back, pulling the other leg with you. Drive that leg into the mat with a straight arm and your body weight, then pass around on that side.

To finish the pass there are two main options. Either you can drop your shoulder into their hip, falling forward like in the 'pin the legs' version. If the position you're in doesn't lend itself to that, then simply moving into knee on belly may make more sense. Experiment with both: it will depend on the configuration of your body once you pass their legs.

For the pin the legs variation, you simply step back when you have that grip, so that the soles of their feet press into the floor. Straighten your arms and lean through them, so that all your weight is punching downwards towards the mat. The aim is to prevent them being able to move their legs, so that you can now walk around before they are able to recover. Keep your base wide, plenty of space between your feet. As soon as you get past their knees, turn slightly and drop your leading shoulder into their hip. Stay on your toes all the way through: if you go to your knees, that immediately reduces the pressure on your opponent.


Teaching Notes: Establishing that knee on belly properly is important, plus not leaving too much space when you scoot your hips back. Some people were walking way back instead, I'll continue emphasising the hip motion. Also, pulling the legs across, not back, otherwise you're making it harder for yourself. I went with the simple 'scoot back and pull across' option, rather than opening out the legs or pinning them. This feels more mobile, which is the main point of me showing the pass.

Different grips? Grabbing inside the knees makes sense, as then you can also block with the elbows, but it is hard on the fingers. Grabbing the knees, shins etc also ok? I want a less grip-intensive option if possible.

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