BJJ and submission grappling are in a continual state of evolution. New techniques, tactics and strategies emerge, or are rediscovered, or are brought into the art all the time.
The backstep guard pass is one such modern technique. You won’t see this guard pass in old-school BJJ but it shows up frequently in modern competition, especially when a good competitor encounters a tough-to-pass half guard.
And as always, there’s definitely a trickle-down effect with moves first showing up in the big tournaments like ADCC and the Mundials, and then being used at local tournaments and sparring sessions at the local BJJ club. First the big-name black belts make a technique popular, and the next thing you know the blue belts and white belts at your school are trying it on you in sparring!
That’s why if the half guard is even a small part of your game (or if you end up there sometimes when defending other guard passes) then it’s a safe bet to assume that somebody will eventually use the backstep guard pass on you. They want to neutralize your half guard and pass to side control..
And if you don’t know what to do when you run into this guard pass then you’re in trouble.
Most conventional countering techniques don’t work against the backstep pass. This is because your arms get forced out of position, it’s really hard to get under your opponent’s center of gravity, and any underhooks you worked so hard to get from the ‘regular’ half guard simply become ineffective. In short, you’ll feel quite lost and helpless.
But if you know what to do then not only can you counter the guard pass, but you can turn the tables on your opponent, sweep him, and get to the top.
In the video clip below Emily Kwok takes you through how to counter the backstep pass, even if he’s bigger and heavier than you with great base!
P.S. The Backstep Guard Pass and the counter to the Backstep Guard Pass are only two of the many techniques covered in detail in Volumes 2 and 3 of How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent in No Gi (No Gi Guard Passing, and No Gi Guard Sweeps and Submissions), the 5 DVD instructional set by world champion Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting of Grapplearts.com.