3/7/16 - Establishing the Headquarters position to the cross knee pass and the over under pass.
3/7/16 - GI. More Guard Passes!
Establishing the Headquarters position
A couple years ago, I was working on a position called the Headquarters from which your options for guard passes were strong and many. Another advantage of this position is that it really limits the number of guards that your opponent can play. Now a few years later after developing a better understanding of Jiu Jitsu and it's concepts, I am playing with the position again (or at least today I did) and I had what felt like some pretty good breakthroughs.
The Headquarters position has you straddling and squatting over one of your opponent's legs making if hard for your opponent to use that leg. The basic position is from in your opponent's open guard and has you having 1 hand on your opponent's same side lapel (let's say your right hand) while your right leg drives into the back of the opponent's left thigh. While you do this, you are squatting atop your opponents right leg. So the two things that really "clicked" with me today while playing with this position were these. The first is that my right leg not only has to be deep (which I was doing before, almost too much so because I couldn't figure out how to make it work) but also has to be facing outward. A couple years ago, I missed the facing outward detail which made it hard to keep my leg strong and prevent him from being able to slide his foot into DLR guard. This little detail helps to block out the DLR hook, and while I knew this before, I've always had trouble putting it into practice while also feeling natural, but today, that really seemed to click.
The 2nd detail which clicked for me today was my right elbow placement. A couple years ago, I would just connect my elbow to my knee to make a wall so that their leg couldn't get inside and into my stomach. While this structure was strong in theory, it was weak in practice. The slight detail that made it better was that I am now placing my elbow outside of my knee and I allow these 2 barriers to overlap rather than merely connect. This made the structure of the barrier much stronger. When I combined this with stepping my right leg deep and making sure to face my knee outward, it really made that side of my opponents body feel completely dominated and like I had total control.
Cross knee pass
From the headquarters, the cross knee pass is a very strong option, but it's one I was never great at before. This is basically similar to the reason my arm and leg barrier wasn't good from the headquarters position: overlapping. While executing the cross knee pass, I would set my elbow on top of my knee/thigh and thought that should be enough to keep their knee from driving across my stomach and establishing a knee shield defense. However, today while I was working it a few times, it felt super strong because I was applying the same concept to strengthen my barrier. When hitting this pass, I would allow my elbow to overlap my thigh on the outside, making the barrier more structurally sound. In addition to this, I thought about using my should as a barrier too, or rather, it was an extension of the barrier. I thought of the barrier not only being just my leg and arm, but the entire length of my arm all the way to the shoulder. Then I would thinking about sinking my shoulder low and forward, kind of like a shrugging motion, and this really seemed to make my barrier feel stronger. Now that I was able to keep my barrier completely intact, I was able to keep the knee from driving inside or knocking me off balance. From this strong, balance position, the cross knee pass was extremely easy and felt effortless.
Over Under Pass (from half guard)
Another pass that I used today that has really been clicking for me lately (the last few months) is the over under pass from half guard. I've seen Marcelo Garcia use this one all the time, but whenever I tried it (prior to figuring out this little trick) I just couldn't make it work. With this pass, with my right leg stuck in halfguard, I would dig the underhook with my right arm. my left arm would wrap an overhook on the near side, and I would place my head down low / on the mat on the near side (the overhook side) of my opponent's head. Now this is the part I struggled with: I was suppose to place the bottom of my left foot on my opponent's right thigh so that I could push my right leg free (essentially by doing a leg press with my left leg). However, I had a ton of trouble getting the bottom of my left foot onto my opponent's thigh. I never felt like I had enough room / flexibility. A few months ago I realized this was due to an angle issue. When I would first try this, I would be belly down. I would keep my belly parallel to the mat. After trying and failing several times, I finally found the detail that made it work for me. By changing the angle and facing my hips outward, I was easily able to place my left foot where it needed to go. Instead of being belly down, I would rotate my hips and stomach about 45 degrees to my left. By doing this, I had plenty of room, and once I was able to consistently be able to get my foot where I needed it to be, I have a ton of success with this guard pass. So much so, that I am considering a new passing style where I just drive myself forward and down hard forcing myself into the half guard so that I can use this high percentage pass.