Modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu includes a wide variety of different guards that grapplers play. To beat those guards, there have been numerous guard passes developed.
Since there are various forms of a BJJ guard pass, it can be difficult for beginners to know which techniques to use. That is why we put together this list of the best BJJ guard passes that everyone can use.
Detailing 5 simple, yet effective ways for passing guard. We also included Youtube links for you to see visuals of the techniques and listed BJJ athletes that are experts at each pass.
What is Guard Passing?
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, guard passing is how you pass your opponent’s legs to get to a dominant position. Passing to either side-control or the mount.
Passing guard in BJJ is one of the most important aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. For every type of guard, there is, there are at least 5 ways for you to pass your opponent’s guard.
Our 5 Favourite Guard Passes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu
The 5 guard passes that we listed and not only the most simple to pull off, but the most effective. Fundamental passes that are great for beginners to seasoned advanced BJJ athletes.
Our 5 favourite guard passes include:
- The knee cut/knee slide pass
- Leg drag pass
- Double Unders Pass
- Toreando pass
- The smash pass
Knee Cut/Knee Slide Guard Pass
The first technique on our list is the knee slide or cut pass. It is one of the very first passes you learn in Jiu-Jitsu that can pass a closed guard or an open guard. Even though the knee cut is a basic pass, it is one of the most effective passes in Jiu-Jitsu.
How to execute a knee cut/knee slice pass
A knee cut/slide pass setup usually starts from standing and your opponent has an open guard. The first step into your knee cut entry is to get your grips.
Grab your opponent’s lapel with one hand, while grabbing their pants with the other. Pull up with your lapel grip to make your opponent sit up.
Next, you’re going to step to do a long step to the side as you use your grips to turn your opponent. As your opponent is turning, you’re going to slice your knee across your opponent’s leg.
Now, before we can pass, we have to control our opponent with our grips. Keep your lapel grip and grab another grip above your opponent’s elbow.
Push down with the lapel grip and down with the elbow grip as you slide your knee out and into side-control. Watch this video of a proper knee-cut pass by world champion Lucas Lepri.
Athletes to study
Some of the best BJJ black belt athletes are known for using setups to hit knee slide passes. Two of the best athletes that you should study to learn this guard passing technique are Leandro Lo and Romulo Barral. They have great methods to slice through guards.
Leg Drag Guard Pass
One type of guard pass that has gotten a lot more popular in BJJ is the leg drag. Using leg drags to pass an opponent’s guard are low-risk techniques that provide a lot of control. Great to use if you’re going against someone with an active guard game and keep distance
How to execute a leg drag guard pass
You start your setup for a leg drag pass by simply taking grips on your opponent’s legs. You can either grab the ends of their pant legs or just grab their ankles.
Using your grips, you’re going throw your opponent’s legs to the side as your knee between them. Keep your grips as you come in and aim to put your opponent’s near leg in the pocket of your hip.
To further enable your opponent’s movement in this position, you have two different options. You can either control their upper body by under hooking their arm and hugging their head or keep hold of their Gi.
Take a collar grip and place your elbow on top of the leg of your opponent to hold them in place. After you take this grip, you’re going to hug their head with your free hand.
To start your pass, you’re to put pressure on your opponent by driving forward and putting your weight on them. This immobilized their hips and legs, which allows you to go into side-control with ease.
Stephan Kesting has a great video going over the theory of leg drags and the different options you have.
Athletes to study
Two innovators of leg drag passing our the Mendes brothers, Rafael and Guilherme. Along with innovating the berimbolo, they also made innovations using different leg drag techniques.
Double Unders Guard Pass
The double under guard pass is one of the very first guard pass that you learn in Jiu-Jitsu. It’s effective and works whether you’re a white belt or a black belt.
How to execute a Double Unders Guard Pass
Before you can think of doing this BJJ guard pass, you have to know how to open a closed guard. This pass generally comes off of you opening your opponent’s closed guard.
Open closed guard by grabbing hold of their knee and pushing them down as you keep good posture. Once your opponent opens their legs, you can go through the steps to pass the guard.
When you take your undertook, Gable grip your hands together and pull your opponent in. Pulling their legs and hips off the mat.
Next, drive forward to push their knees touch their shoulders and feet touch the mat. To put down more pressure, you can grab the pants of your opponent.
You can also post your knee behind their hips, to hold them in position. Now, with your free hand, grab their collar and keep driving your weight into their upper body.
The pressure from driving forward makes passing to side-control rather easy. Jeff Glover has great insight into this style of guard passing in this video from BJJ Fanatics.
Athletes to study
If you’re looking for a clinical double-under guard passer, take a look at Ffion Davies’ double-under guard passing during the 2022 IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu World Championships.
Toreando Guard Pass
Toreando pass or bullfighter’s pass is a passing technique used by everyone from white belts to black belts. It’s also a very simple pass that requires a good amount of pressure and speed.
How to execute a TOREANDO guard pass
Executing a toreando pass is very simple and only requires a few easy steps. The first step for doing the bullfighter pass is grabbing your opponent’s knees.
Once you grab their knees, you’re going to drive them into your opponent’s chest to put pressure on them. They are going to naturally react and kick their legs.
When they do this, you’re going to step to the side and let your opponent’s legs kick right past you. Once they got past you, maintain hold of their knees and plant their legs to the ground.
You’re then going to drive your shoulder into their chest, putting on a good amount of pressure to keep them in place. From there, walk your body up and take a side-mount.
Watch BJJ legend Andre Galvao break down everything you need to know about the toreando pass in this video.
Athletes to study
Two of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts to study for this pass are Leandro Lo and Kayan Duarte. Both grapplers have won multiple championships using variations of passing guard this way.
Smash Guard Pass
By far one of the most powerful ways to pass guard in BJJ is to use the smash pass. It puts an incredible amount of pressure on your opponent’s legs, which forces them to give up the position.
How to execute a smash guard pass
You can start a smash pass by grabbing both of your opponent’s lapels. Then use one of your elbows to push your opponent’s leg to the side and drop your chest on it.
Next, turn your hip to the side and drive your knee in between your opponent’s legs. Put them in a pseudo half guard as you outside foot posts on the mat.
From here, you have the choice of grabbing the back of your opponent’s collar or belt. You’re in no rush to pass and just going to continue to slowly drive into your opponent
Once you have your opponent stretched out, you’re going to start walking behind their legs and take side-mount.
Athletes to study
Two athletes that have an excellent smash pass game are teammates Xande Ribeiro and Rafael Lovato Jr. Both have used this type of pass to win world championships.
Other BJJ Guard Passes
To go along with the 5 most simple and effective BJJ guard passes, we added 3 other guard passes. Ones that are used to pass specific BJJ guards.
De La Riva Guard Pass
The De La Riva guard is a classic style of open guard that offers numerous sweeps and submissions. It is fundamental that you know how to pass this guard.
Spider Guard Pass
Probably one of the most popular open guards used in Jiu-Jitsu is the spider guard. Grapplers use numerous variations of spider to hit various sweeps and submissions.
Opponents hold spider by taking sleeve grips and either putting their feet on your biceps, hips or a mix of both. Using their legs just like a spider to put you in their web.
But the good news is that passing the guard is rather easy. One way to pass the guard is by doing the wrecking ball technique.
When you’re in your opponent’s guard, counter-grab their pants, and step to the side. You’re going to cross-step onto your opponent’s leg and pull up to break their grip.
From there, you pull their far leg to the floor, pin it, and go into passing the guard.
The butterfly guard is a common BJJ guard used in Jiu-Jitsu. It’s an incredibly effective guard used to sweep opponents, but there are various methods for passing this guard.
One easy way of passing this guard is using the wheel turn pass. Grab the back of your opponent’s Gi/shoulder and reach between their legs and grab their Gi pants.
Use them to turn your opponent and take side-mount.