How To Perform The Knee Slice/Cut Pass In BJJ

The knee slice, also known as the knee cut pass, is one of the first passes a beginner learns in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is a type of pressure pass best used against younger and flexible grapplers with modern guards. Although considered a fundamental technique, this pass is highly effective even at the highest level of competition. This article will teach you how to perform the knee slice pass in BJJ.


What Is The Knee Slice Pass?

As BJJ legend Jean Jacques Machado says, the more you know in BJJ, the less you use. To use less, you need to learn more. To be considered good in Jiu-Jitsu, you have to master the fundamentals. The knee slice pass is one of the highest-percentage passes a beginner can learn. It is also a technique that will carry someone up to the upper ranks

It is a pass where you pick a side and use your near leg’s knee to pin and slice through the opponent’s leg while the other leg bases on the mat. Like any other pass, you must establish a solid initial grip to effectively use the knee slice. 

In this case, the key ingredients are controlling the opponent’s head and arm with an underhook. When applied correctly, it is a painful way to pass the guard as this pass cuts through the thigh directly using the knee.


Performing The Knee Slice/Cut Pass

Typically, the knee slice is used to pass the half guard and open guard. As Jeff Glover shows in the video, you can also perform the knee slice after opening the closed guard.

To start, open the closed guard by putting both hands on the opponent’s biceps to pin their upper body on the mat. Use your weight to push their body to the mat as you carefully stand up and maintain your balance. Standing up to open the closed guard requires balance and flexibility. From the staggered stance with the right leg forward, place your right knee between the opponent’s glutes to force them to open their guard and move your left leg backward.

The right knee between the glutes will help you land on combat base as you sit back down once the guard has opened. In BJJ, the combat base is a position where you squat with one leg forward (front leg) between the opponent’s glutes with the knee facing upward and foot planted on the mat, while the other leg (back leg) kneels on the mat. Use your right knee to angle to the side and pass on top of the opponent’s thigh.

Pummel and grab an underhook with your right hand and use your left hand to grab the opponent’s other wrist. Pull it up as you slide your right knee to pass, landing in the kesa gatame position.


Passing The Half Guard With Knee Slice

A common scenario in BJJ is where the bottom player will go to either open or half guard once their closed guard is opened. This is the perfect time to use the knee slice pass. In this video, William Abreu demonstrates how to pass the half guard using the knee slice.

Starting from the top half guard position, assuming you are passing to the opponent’s left side, start by first placing your right knee on top of the opponent’s thigh. Be cautious not to land your knee on the mat too early with your hips driving forward. 

This places the opponent’s thigh inside the bridge between your knee and foot, putting you way too far forward and early for the pass. This gives the opponent the ability to wrestle up and go for a single leg and start taking the back.

Use your left leg to base on the mat and place your right arm on the opponent’s hip while keeping your right elbow tight to the side of your body. Use your left hand to control the opponent’s wrist or elbow. Time to advance from this position. 

Use your left arm to get the underhook and use your head to drive towards their chest or chin while staying low and sitting back on your right heel. Drive all your weight using your left leg while maintaining wrist control. Use your head to drive towards the left side of the mat, on top of the opponent’s shoulder and beside their chin.

Doing so will prevent the opponent from getting their head underneath your body and limit any leglock attempts. Use your right knee to cut through on the left side while keeping your right leg posted on the mat to ensure that you get your left leg through their leg, slipping your foot out. 

Secure the pass and land in the kesa gatame position. Pull their hand up underneath your armpit as you slide your right leg under, while maintaining the underhook. You can stay in kesa gatame if you prefer that pin. Alternatively, you can go to side control by transitioning to the cross face and switching your hips.

A good tip here is to not stay on your knees if your opponent pulls half guard or if they hook your leg to defend the side control pin, forcing half guard. What you have to do is again, use your right hand and place it on their hip, and post your left hand at a comfortable distance to prevent the kimura. You can also use your left hand to push their knee as you jump up to land your right knee on their thigh and start the guard pass from there. 


Final Thoughts

According to the great John Danaher, the easiest way to pass the guard is to force the opponent in half guard. The knee slice is one of the best techniques in this scenario because it is easy to execute and works against all body types. Mix it up with your other guard passing techniques and principles to develop a relentless guard passing game.


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