Today’s episode is PURE GOLD for BJJ practitioners and No Gi grapplers.
Fabio Gurgel – 4 time BJJ Black Belt World Champion (and trainer of more than 50 other world champions) – talks about his approach to passing the guard, including
- How to connect your moves,
- The evolution of guard passing,
- Advice for older grapplers,
- When you should stop halfway through a guard pass to tire the other guy out,
- Alternatives to the modern styles of guard passing that rely on mobility, athleticism and floating from side to side above your opponent,
- And more.
It’s not often that you can get such insight into the strategies and tactics of a world champion like this so give it a listen!
Stream Episode 195 with 4 time world champion Fabio Gurgel Here
Alternately you can also grab episode 195 with Fabio Gurgel on the podcast player that you already have on your phone!
Here are the links to find the podcast on various players – today’s episode is number 195…
- Apple Podcasts (the purple app on your iPhone)
- Google Podcasts (the new google podcast app)
- Spotify (it’s free)
- Google Play
You can read the full podcast transcript below:
STEPHAN: In today’s podcast, four times world champion, sixth degree black belt, Fabio Gurgel talks about his strategies, his tactics and his mindset for passing the guard.
His approach to passing the guard is not a mobility speed-based approach, it’s pressure passing, it’s putting weight onto your opponent, crushing his hips, putting your weight on his body, slowly working your way around your opponent’s legs. This is a great approach if you’re not that athletic, if you’re not comfortable with all the jumping, spinning, floating, break-dancing style guard passing known as speed passing.
This podcast is a mash-up of the conversations that we had while filming the Pressure Passing System which is available here. It’s out in DVD, online format and app format. It’s coming for you and more importantly if you get it, it’s coming for your opponents. They are going to curse you for listening to this podcast and curse you for adding pressure passing to your game.
Fabio on Breaking Your Opponent’s Will to Fight During the Guard Pass
FABIO: Pressure passing is the concept that you force your opponent to give up his guard before you really pass. It’s different than what the guys are doing now – floating from one side to the other which is amazing – but isn’t for everybody. Doing that depends on your body type, your weight, your speed, your strength, so I think the pressure passing works really well for everybody.
And there is a really important concept behind and explanation of the techniques, which is how to make your opponent give you the pass. Instead of you getting the the pass it’s about them quitting before.
Also, sometimes when you use a speed pass, most of the time actually, the guy turns and gets the guard back, it’s very common, right. With the pressure passing, you’re going to get the cross side position now no matter what, right? So you’ve got to really get the control because you’re going to stop and let the guy burn before you pass. This creates a big difference in a real fight.
Fabio on the Power of the Stack Pass
FABIO: All the passes that we have today, they come from the stack pass. When you go back in time, the first pass that I learned was on the knees, putting the hand inside the legs trying to do the stack pass.
Of course, things evolved and I do a lot of different stuff from the stack pass which is one of my favorites and works with pretty much everybody. When the guys is bigger and less flexible, the stack pass is even more effective.
STEPHAN: You can really take him to the limits of your flexibility and he’s like, “Oh God please, just go ahead and pass.”
FABIO: Exactly, that’s the feeling that the guy on bottom should have, and of course when the guy has more flexibility sometimes you need to stay a little longer there to make him feel the same thing. So just keep up the pressure to the point that the guy starts to give up the pass willingly.
Fabio on Escaping and Passing Lasso Spider Guard
STEPHAN: So in this pass the movement has 4 parts: move back, move right, move left, then move right…
FABIO: The more control you give to your opponent initially then, of course, the harder you’ve got to work to pass.
What makes you very effective when you’re passing the guard? Not just when you’re passing but in Jiu-Jitsu in general?
It’s being ahead of your opponent’s move, right? So if you let your opponent do whatever he wants and then ask, “Hey how can I escape from there?” Come on man, you’re like 5 steps behind at that point.
So you need to try to be ahead of your opponent, make him defend what you’re doing.
So we go back to the point that it’s all about connections.
If I can force you to do what I want then it’s much easier for me to connect my next move and then your next move is going to be very predictable so I’ve got to get just another technique, so the connections start to work for my side.
STEPHAN: Otherwise it’s like asking, “Hey what if the other guy’s on my back, he’s got both hooks in, he’s got an arm across my throat and he has…”
FABIO: How can I escape? Exactly!
So with the lasso guard the point is, I don’t want to let him get that full control of my arms. But we know that sometimes happens anyhow.
So we just showed you guys that even though you got in a really bad spot in terms of control, you need to know how what to do. You start with the first move, then go to the 2nd move, and so on, until you get the point where you are in control again. It’s just about how to connect the moves.
Fabio on Smashing the Butterfly Guard in the Middle of a Sweep Attempt
FABIO: When you go for the butterfly sweep your knee must be pointing outside. This means that, if you are connected, then your knee is going to be always outside until you start the move.
But if I can force you to extend your leg more than you should, then you don’t have your knee pointing outside anymore. That’s when my own knee goes inside, I drop the weight, and press you into the folding pass position.
I need to temporarily disconnect from the hook, forcing my opponent to extend his sweeping leg. He still feels like he can get the sweep, but oh, suddenly his leg is gonna drop and you’ll have the fold.
Fabio About Controlling the Hips in the Folding Pass
FABIO: So it’s all about controlling the hips, not about controlling the legs the legs because I already killed your legs and my weight is already over your body!
With my weight higher you cannot really move your hips. If I am on bottom and I someone folds my legs like this, then if I make a mistake, stretch out and push you away then I give you more space to climb into the mount.
STEPHAN: Because pushing away opens that space…
FABIO: Exactly, and extends your legs so you can’t move as easily. Now it’s easier for the guy to pass to the side or even climb to the mount.
Fabio on Passing the Guard as an Older Jiu-Jitsu Practitioner
FABIO: Once you get to a good spot in the pass you’ve got to leave your opponents struggling a little bit, you know, expend the energy. You’re just there and you start to understand your opponent much better, right?
Sometimes I see the pass, but I put it on an account: this guy is still struggling. I can step and pass his guard anytime I want. But if he is still spending energy for nothing then I’m going to him there for a little while. Because I know that when I step over and pass, he’s going to be much tired than he was before. So, that is good for me, right?
You stop in a position, take your time there, and see how it goes. See what my opponent’s reaction is going to be, see what he is going to do next.
If you just scramble all the time you’ll never get that feeling, you never get the understanding you know? For scrambling you need to be strong, you need to flexible, you need to be physical…
STEPHAN: The young man’s attributes…
FABIO: The young man’s game, which would mean that you can’t play Jiu-Jitsu after your 30’s, right?
But when you get the understanding of pressure you can play with the young guys no problem, because when you get in a good position you start to read your opponent’s feeling in a way that’s not possible if you are just doing speed passing and jumping over the guy… floating over the guy…
This understanding of pressure is going to help you not just in the guard pass but also in the cross side mount, when you’re on the back, when you’re in the mount, you know. Just being understand your opponent’s energy in every position is a very important thing.
Fabio on Dealing with Unexpected Reactions and Counters During the Guard Pass
FABIO: Sometimes the guy holds onto your arm or your sleeve when you’re passing because he doesn’t know what to do. So just don’t panic and just take your time.
Leave your weight over him as you get those strange positions and stop. You’ll start to understand the positions and in greater detail.
Guys will move in different ways right? Some big guy is going to try to hold on… some small guy is going to try to curl up stop you from getting right beside him… Everyone is going to give you different reactions and your positioning starts to be really good when you start to deal with all those reactions naturally because you have been there a thousand times.
This way you’ll know what the guy is doing so it’s easy to make your next move.
STEPHAN: And this awareness, this sensitivity comes from taking your time during guard pass?
FABIO: Exactly. If you go fast sometimes you will still get the pass, but you won’t really understand what happened.
That’s why I think it’s very important for people to know when they’re in a good position, stop there, and read their opponent’s reaction. That’s how you really understand what your next move should be.
So every time that I stop I think, “Oh the guy’s going to do that ok, that’s my next technique. Oh he’s doing that, that’s my next move…”
It makes it easy to see what’s going on because you just hold it there. When you go just go and scramble you don’t see nothing. You end up passing – ok, fine, good – but sometimes you miss the best opportunities to actually finish the fight. You don’t really understand the connections because you’re just passing the guard.
Fabio on the Folding Pass in No Gi
FABIO: The folding pass is probably one of the most effective ways to pass the guard in the No Gi game.
Of course there are different set ups for the pass, but the folding position is exactly the same. With the gi techniques we didn’t use a lot of gripping for this pass, right? So it’s about your weight distribution and how you control his legs to avoid letting the other guy square his hips and put you into guard again. So the setups change, but the rest of the pass is the same.
Fabio on How the Stack Pass and Torreando Pass Combined to Create the Over-Under Pass
FABIO: The very first guard pass in Jiu-Jitsu was a stack pass, where we just put a hand inside the legs, go to the collar or the shoulder, and pass.
Then what happened was that the guys on the bottom started to work to keep the top guy away: foot on the hip, push you away, and start to play open guard.
To counter that came the torreando pass. If I cannot put my arm under your leg to stack you then I gotta go for your other leg. I’ll control both legs and start to walk to the side for the torreando pass.
And if you combine these two passes then you’re going to end up exactly in the over under pass.
If I’m doing the toreando pass you are going to frame my shoulder so as I cannot go any further from your side. Now I walk back the other way to get the stack pass.But then when I get to the stack pass you make it really hard for me to reach your shoulder or your collar so I go right to the over-under.
So that’s how we combined the torreando with the stack pass. The over-under is a good spot to be: from this point I can keep going and pass the guard. At this point I have full control of your hip and your leg, so I’m in a really safe position to be.
Fabio on Transitioning Between Pressure Passing Positions in No Gi
FABIO: I don’t need to hold in a position where you cannot move. I just need to guide you in the way that is better for me.
STEPHAN: For example, into the folding pass that you just did to me…
FABIO: You pushed, strained, turned to your side and just gave me the folding pass, an even better position. So the over-under pass in No Gi is more of a transitional position that you use to get to the other positions than a guard pass by itself.
Fabio Gurgel’s Pressure Guard Passing System
Check out Fabio’s instructional, The Pressure Passing System, available on DVD, online streaming and in app form.