Tailor Your Game: The 10 Best Guard Passers in BJJ 

Guard passing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an art form. Getting past the opponent’s defence to secure a dominant position in which they actively use their legs and arms to repel you is no simple task. Guard passing and being the grappler on top is one of the primary goals in BJJ and is a skill that every grappler should master. In this article, we will talk about some of the best guard passers in our sport.

 

The 10 Best Guard Passers In BJJ

The development of BJJ has been on a constant upward slope. As time passes, grapplers improve upon techniques, particularly with the techniques like guard play. Because of this, guard passing must also level up and adapt to the changes in today’s meta. This constant push and pull is what drives the development of technique in Jiu-Jitsu. In today’s grappling, you can’t just power your way to the guard pass. You must eliminate potential sweeps, back takes, and submission attempts (especially leg locks)to become effective.

The art of guard passing is evolving as we speak. Many past and present superstars are absolute experts in passing the guard. If you are looking to guard passing technique, we recommend you check out these athletes below. 

 

1) Gordon Ryan 

Gordon Ryan, known as the greatest no-gi grappler today, is known for his supreme open guard and complete overall game. John Danaher, Gordon’s coach, said that the best way to pass the opponent’s guard is to put their back flat on the mat, forcing the opponent’s half guard, having at least one underhook and a hip-to-hip position, and work your way from there. Watch the video above  on how Gordon drains his opponents’ energy as he imposes his guard pass from half-guard.

 

2) Roger Gracie

Roger Gracie is considered the greatest BJJ competitor of all time. He is known for his simple yet highly sophisticated way of grappling, proving that fundamentals can work even at the highest level of competition. Roger often passes his opponent’s guards, which he capitalises to get to the mount position and choke them with his famous cross choke. 

 

3) Marcus Almeida

Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida, who currently fights under ONE Championship as a heavyweight, is one of the most accomplished Jiu-Jitsu athletes ever. Buchecha is widely known for his “folding pass,” a modification of the leg weave pass that allows him to put extreme pressure on his opponents, forcing them to give up side control, mount, or even the back. If you are into pressure passing, check out Buchecha’s folding pass in the video above.

 

4) Marcelo Garcia

Marcelo Garcia is one of the greatest competitors of all time. Famous for his dynamic and unique approach to grappling, Marcelo knows a thing or two about shutting down the most common guards people play. Marcelo’s way of aggressively passing the guard limits his opponent’s ability to set anything up. Marcelo uses a simple yet effective way of passing, which he passes with a low passing position and uses back steps and knee cut from half guard to secure side control with a heavy hip.

 

5) Rafael Mendes 

Rafael Mendes, also known as “Rafa,” is one of the most complete athletes in modern Jiu-Jitsu. He is known for his dynamic passing style, actively moving from side to side, connecting various guard passing techniques such as the leg drag, toreando, long step, and windshield wipers. Rafa is a master of controlling the distance, and if speed passing is your game, Rafa is not the one you should miss.

 

6) Paulo Miyao

Paulo, alongside his brother Joao, are considered BJJ phenoms since they were teens. Known for having impassable guards that only a few grapplers could pass, Paulo is also known for his knee cut pressure pass and body lock pass, which he uses to go to the side. In modern BJJ, where most guards can be neutralised using pressure passes, you may consider learning the body lock pass from Paulo Miyao. 

 

7) Leandro Lo 

Leandro is one of the all-time greats in BJJ, having the record for the most IBJJF World titles in different weight classes. He is famous for his relentless passing style, particularly with the toreando guard pass. With his fierce passing style, Lo likes to mix his toreando with the leg drag pass as he constantly applies pressure to move forward and land in side control. 

 

8) Bernardo Faria

Bernardo is a multiple-time IBJJF World Champion and is regarded as one of the most influential figures in developing the modern grappling scene. He is famous for using the over-under pass in the highest levels of competition, which requires little to no athleticism or energy to pull off. 

If you are a heavier grappler, pressure passing using the over-under pass will fit nicely into your game.

 

9) Lucas Lepri 

Lucas Lepri is one of the most successful BJJ competitors ever, having won multiple IBJJF World Championships under his name. He is known for his exceptional guard passing ability utilising the leg weave and knee cut combination mainly from the headquarters position to get to side control. Watch the video above on how Lucas combines the leg weave, knee cut, and smash pass to pass the opponent’s guard.

 

10) Romulo Barral

Romulo Barral is one of the most complete athletes in Jiu-Jitsu. An expert in gi and no-gi, Gracie Mag ranked him as the number one BJJ fighter at some point in his career. Romulo is famous for his one-of-a-kind knee cut guard pass. The grittiness of using his head to put extreme pressure across the opponent’s jaw while performing the knee cut separates his pass from the rest. 

The knee cut is one of the effective techniques you can perform to shut down the opponent’s half guard.

 

Conclusion

Guard passing is an essential skill to develop in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Not only does it allow you to advance to a position where you can gain points, but it also puts you in a situation where you can finish the match with a submission. We suggest that you build a complete guard passing system so that you can open even the toughest guards in your gym.

 

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