BJJ / Grappling Tips: Guard passing - Advice from John Will - Getting the most out of each session.

Guard passing is the other side of the coin of guard recovery and I'd like to share a tip I got from Mr John Will: turn every grappling/BJJ session into a grappling/BJJ private. I don't mean that you should try to hog your instructor's attention for the duration of the session. That's neither fair nor feasible.

Rather, if you are focusing on your guard passing, keep your eyes open and look at what your partners and peers are doing. How do they pass but most importantly what keeps them from passing? Focus on grappling fundamentals like hip movement and hip control rather than the cartwheels and the attribute-driven passes. What are they doing with their hands and where are they touching their partner? Notice also that if someone keeps failing to pass guard then maybe the guard player is the one to watch and learn from.

The discipline here is not to lose focus. If the guard player starts pulling submissions and sweeps then you no longer necessarily have any guard passing to watch. Move your focus to another roll where there's some guard passing going on. Without that focus, you are really just watching leisurely and not learning an awful much.

Finally, to cement your newly acquired knowledge, make a couple of notes of what you learnt and make it a point to work it into your own guard passing. A lot of coaches recommend that you bring a small notebook and write in it after the session but I can never remember to do that. Instead, on the train ride home, I write a couple of pointer notes on my phone. As soon as I get a chance later that evening, I fill in the blanks and think about how that lesson can be a theme for a blog article.

As a quick example, a year or so ago I experienced a huge improvement in my guard passing when I started pushing my hips forward and keeping my feet back. I had heard that tip a few times before but couldn’t really visualise it until one day I was watching a couple of excellent passers at the gym, I noticed that this was a clear common denominator. Common denominators are a sure sign of a strong fundamental. I played around with it for a few months and I noticed a huge improvement.

Here's a beautiful example of the importance pushing the hips forward and keeping the legs behind from a phenomenal guard passer and a huge inspiration of mine, Mr BJ Penn (I recommend watching it without the distracting soundtrack though):

Put this into practice and turn every session into a private!



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