Knee Cut Pass

Knee cut passing is a staple passing sequence regardless if you are small or if you are someone who belongs to the higher weight divisions. It can keep the opponent planted as you work to bypass the legs, not to mention it can be combined with other passing options.

There are different versions of knee cut passing over the years. However, the basic idea is that you put your knee on top of your opponent’s leg. From here, you will work until you get your knee on the mat and your hip has cleared the leg. The mechanics of the knee cut pass is to make sure that the opponent’s hip is not facing you.

Controlling the Upper Body

Before discussing the knee cut mechanics. It is important to know how to control the upper body. This will help in keeping the hip planted on the mat and not facing the passer. Some passers prefer to grab by the sleeve and collar. Some prefer to grab the sleeve as if they are doing a spider guard lifting the opponent up preventing him or her from putting the elbow on the mat thus, preventing the opponent to have a more defensive shell. The problem with this grip is that it works best for a tall passer giving you the leverage to pull up high.   

If you feel that the person is also trying to grip fight with your sleeve, and if he or she has a good pull, what you can do is to switch from the sleeve grip to the tricep grip. This makes it easier to lift especially if you are not that tall. It can also be a preferred grip if you are doing knee cut in no gi competition settings.

If you are someone smaller, one of the easier setups for upper body control is to grab both collars. When you grab both collars, there are different ways on how you can plant someone on the mat without looking towards your direction. One, you can follow the same movement as lifting the sleeve. You can go push with the far hand to make sure that the shoulder isn’t going to lift the mat while you can pull with the other hand.

A brutal upper body control for knee cut passing is by using your head to prevent the guard player from looking your way. Here, you can use the same double collar grips and plant your head either on the side of the face or even on the neck.

Collar and underhook is another great upper body control.  It allows you to put a lot of pressure on the opponent and even work towards clasping your hands to eventually have shoulder pressure on the guard player’s face. However, starting with the collar grip is a good setup for a canto choke.

If you will look at Cobrinha’s knee cut passing sequence, he prefers to do a gable grip to impose shoulder pressure to prevent the other person from looking his way. Also, he plants his head on the far side shoulder to reduce the guard player’s shoulder movement.

Ways to Cut

There are different ways on how you can bypass the legs. Different passers have different approaches depending on the opponent’s reaction and how they control the upper body.

One of the basic ways to cut is by sliding your knee sideways. However, the issue here is that the opponent is going to face you and try to regain the guard. One adjustment that you can do is to move your feet back to bump the opponent’s hip with your hip. This will keep the opponent’s hip centered.

A common counter to the knee slice is when your opponent starts to play a Reverse Dela Riva game. Without the right upper body control, the guard player can spin underneath and take the opportunity to catch your back or at least get a sweep. Leandro Lo addresses this by having a high posture and catching the opponent’s sleeve similar to when he is doing a spider guard. This posture is important in keeping the hip centered and not doing any aggressive Reverse Dela Riva attacks. Next, the position of the knee is important. A good marker for this pass is to get the knee towards the armpit of your opponent. This makes it easy to simply windshield wiper the leg and complete the pass.

Opportunity for Scrambles and Attacks

A lot of passers use this opportunity to also scramble towards the back. Once you feel that the opponent is facing you, it becomes easier to go for a backtake by switching your hip. At times, a lot of passers do this as a way to get to the back.

The knee slice passing position is also a good way to initiate finishes. It becomes possible to initiate a scramble that can give you a far side armbar. This is paired usually when you have an underhook by the far side arm. Also, you can do a cross collar grip from the get-go that can serve either to flatten an opponent or hunt for the cross collar choke if the guard player is insistent on facing you.

Setting Up Other Passing Opportunities

The knee slice is a good position to pass because it can be connected with other passes depending on what your opponent is going to feed you. For instance, if you have a grip by the hip, it becomes possible to just go for an X-pass or even resume a toreando pass. Also, a lot of players combine the knee slice with a smash pass. It is a good way to make the guard player react and even open up and have an easier time to pass.

However, if you don’t want to switch sides, you can go for a long step pass starting from a knee slice pass. You can opt to also continue passing even when you have the lower leg control instead of fighting for an underhook or grabbing the collar.

A knee slice pass is an effective option in stopping hip activity that can be used in both gi and nogi situations. What makes it a tricky pass is the fact that it can be a good way to set up the three points or it can also be a good way to finish the match. It also has many configurations that can fit your preference.

Knee Cut Passing Instructional

9x IBJJF World Champion Romulo Barral has built a career as one of the most dominant fighters and sought-after instructors in modern Jiu-Jitsu. In this teaching, Romulo focuses his attention on his famous Knee Cut pass! He makes it so easy, but there are many technical details to enter into this “hot knife in butter” guard pass. Don’t miss it!

This instructional features 13 looks at competition-proven knee cut passes and guarantee’s to help you level up your passing game.

Check out the instructional at and get 10% off when you use the code ATBK10.