The ‘over-under’ pass is a pressure-based technique for passing the guard which is used quite successfully in high level competition. In part it’s a great pass because you don’t have to be particularly fast or nimble to pull it off.
When you’re on the bottom and defending this pass, however, life can really suck…
Not only is it an effective pass, but it’s a tiring one to defend. You’re bearing all of your opponent’s weight, and he can gradually grind you down. Your legs get tired, it gets hard to breathe, and your reactions get slower.
So if you spend any time on the bottom then you have to have a way to counter this pass!
I asked three time Olympian, Judo silver medalist, and BJJ black belt Travis Stevens how he defends this pass, and he ended up showing me a really cool defense using an unorthodox triangle choke technique (it’s a variation of the yoko-sangaku choke, the side triangle, which is often used by judoka to attack the turtle position).
I’ve had the pleasure of having this yoko-sangaku submission applied to me, and the pressure is horrendous! But in the way Travis does it makes it even worse!
Here’s the video of Travis Stevens doing this exact over-under guard pass defense to me and breaking down how to do it. Check it out!
If it helps you remember this move then here are the simplified steps as I broke them down for a post on my @stephan_kesting instagram feed.
As you can see, it’s critical to sneak your feet into the correct position, then push to create a bit of room and swing your top leg into the sangaku (triangle) position. Once you’ve got your legs in position it’s all about manoeuvring your body to be able to generate maximum pressure and submission power!
Understanding the Over-Under Pass
Knowledge and recognition are always the first parts of a defensive strategy.
It’s so much easier to defend against something if you can spot it being set up and know what is coming next.
So if you’re consistently having your guard passed with the over-under pass then the first thing you should do is learn how to do the over-under pass yourself.
(Incidentally, this is the reason why Erik Paulson – one of my coaches – became so good at leglocks. He was going to be fighting in Japan where the MMA fighters of the time were known for their killer leglocks, so his coach forced him to learn leglock attacks so that he would be better able to recognise and defend them.)
So if you want to get better at guard retention vs the over under pass then hopefully you’re willing to put the work in to learn some of the details of that pass.
Here, to get you started, are a few videos about this pass from my Youtube channel that should give you a pretty decent grounding in the basics of this pass.
How to do the over-under guard pass vs closed guard in the gi
In this video my friend Bernardo Faria, who is one of the best over-under passers in the game, breaks down the basics of using this pass against the closed guard.
The over-under pass in no gi
The over-under pass isn’t just for gi anymore! Here are the tweaks you need to make in order to apply this same pass in a no gi environment.
The over-under kneebar
One of the secrets that make the over-under pass so effective is that you can hit a super-powerful kneebar during the pass. If your opponent isn’t expecting it then he’s going to tap out before you even pass his guard.
So learning this kneebar is an essential part of the passing game. And learning to recognise it is critical to the defensive game.
More Guard Retention
The guard is the most important position in BJJ, and having good guard retention may be the single-most important skill in the art.
If you’re interested in learning more about shutting down your opponent’s guard passes then I highly recommend The Guard Retention Formula instructional.
Click here for more information about The Guard Retention Formula, the detailed instructional on how you can make it really, really difficult for your opponent to pass your guard and give you the confidence to attack from the bottom knowing that you can recover no matter what happens.