GFF 6 - Guard Passing

John Danaher - Go Further Faster Volume 6 - Passing the Guard

Fundamental Guard Passes:

  • Double Under Pass
  • Over Under Pass
  • Knee Cut Pass
  • Toreando Pass
  • Leg Drag
  • Long Step Pass
  • Smash Pass


  • Centerline: The line that bisects my opponent's left and right side.
  • Left Diagonal: The line that runs from my opponent's right shoulder to his left hip.
  • Right Diagonal: The line that runs from my opponent's left shoulder to his right hip.
  • Kneeline: The line that connects my opponent's left and right knee.
  • Toeline: The line that connects the toes of my opponent's left and right foot.
  • Hipline: The line that connects my opponent's left and right hip bone.

Grips are described as follows: (Left | Right) (Straight | Cross) [High | Mid | Low] (Location)

  • (Left | Right) refers to which hand I am gripping with.
  • (Straight | Cross | Center) refers to whether or not the grip crosses my opponent's centerline. A straight grip is a “near side” grip, not crossing the centerline. A center grip is on the centerline. A cross grip is a “far side” grip, which crosses the centerline.
  • [High | Mid | Low] optionally refers to where the grip is placed on the (Location).
  • (Location) refers to which part of my opponent's body or gi I am gripping.

The Double Under Pass

  • Challenge is always to pass someone's guard while they are attacking you.
  • Double Under position negates most attacks and most major forms of open guard (tremendous shutdown effect).


  • Exposed hamstrings. If I can see my partner's hamstrings, I can drop to the Double Under position. If I cannot expose his hamstrings (get his feet higher than his knees), I have to change passes.

Training partner is on his back, knees tucked to his chest, heels pulled to his buttocks. I'm standing, approaching the guard.

  1. Step forward, but stay outside opponent's Toe Line.
  2. Grip the soles of his feet (thumb in soles grip) and run his feet over his head, pointing them at the ceiling. Do NOT expose sleeve cuffs to opponent! Alternative: Grip underneath his Achilles tendons.
  3. Pinch with my knees and drop down to Double Under grips, but form a slight angle to his body (shift to my right). Back of his left knee must be on my shoulder.
  4. First concern is alignment with his Left Diagonal. To anchor to this line, I grab his far lapel with my right hand, just below the line of his pectorals (Right Cross Mid Lapel Grip).
  5. Tuck my elbow tightly into his body, difficult for him to expose it and start his guard retention. Note that this is a tradeoff between elbow exposure and head control.
  6. My right knee stays on the mat as I drive off my left foot (raising my left knee).
  7. Take Left Center Drawstring grip.
  8. Bring left knee as a wedge behind partner's lower back. My head is directly over his head; this negates his Shoulder Walk counter.
    • CHECKPOINT: Plough Position.
  9. Move right hand to Right Cross High Lapel Grip to gain head control.
  10. Start driving hips forward by taking my right knee off the floor and arch my body.
  11. Bring right elbow over his head and settle down into Modified Side Control.

Full Technique Run Through: Disc 3 00:15:05

Alternative - Advanced Variation:
I have Double Under grips, but can't raise his right leg to my shoulder. Or I can raise his leg, but he is very good at Shoulder Walking backwards.

  1. Bring his left knee to his Centerline and push the opposite knee to the mat. Note: This position is exactly our Stack passing entry series.
  2. Duck down (level change) to get it onto my shoulder.
  3. Then raise his hips up just enough that I can bring my left hand to Center Drawstring Grip.
  4. Now lift and bring opponent's toes to the mat.
    • CHECKPOINT: Plough Position.
  5. My opponent can post his left hand on my hip and make it very difficult to drive into him. So instead, I use my head to clear his legs.
  6. Bring my head down to his thigh and drive it across the Hipline to his far hip. Head is a battering ram that turns the corner.

Full Technique Run Through: Disc 3 00:24:18

The Centerline
When I am centered with my opponent, he can easily makes his legs very heavy. I want to be aligned with his Left Diagonal.
Getting Underneath His Legs
Don't try to swim or pummel underneath his legs with your arms! This will expose you to various types of open guard, i.e., Lasso and Spider variations.

The Over Under Pass

  • Closely connected to Double Under; both work by controlling opponent's hips.
  • So mechanically efficient and conceptually simple, it doesn't really need combinations.
  • Open Guard is only effective when my opponent has one knee on each side of his Centerline. With the Over Under Pass, I am moving both knees to one side of his centerline.

Training partner is on his back, knees tucked to his chest, heels pulled to his buttocks. I'm standing, approaching the guard.

  • Stay outside his Toeline. Left Straight Low Pants Grip. By his ankle, on the outside. To get this grap, slap his foot with my right hand towards my left.
  • Use the heel of my hand to control his foot.
  • Right hand posts on his left knee, on the inside.
  • Drive his heel to his buttocks and step to the left, then in, pinching both my knees over my partner's ankle.
  • Right hand slides underneath his knee, Scoop Grip, reaching for his belt or gi.
  • I “dive” over his trapped knee, sliding my left bicep to the front and connect my chin to my right thumb. My left hip is lower than my right hip; I'm asymmetrical. Keep this position throughout!
  • Push with my left hand, and walk my feet up towards him, until my whole body is aligned with his Hipline.
  • Catch his knee underneath my hip. Once I've caught his knee, I release my left hand and move it to his hamstring.
  • The I can “carry” his legs back to the centerline.
  • Bring my left foot forward and post tightly against his leg. Then Backstep my right leg out.
    • I may need to straighten my right leg first and Windshield wiper.
  • Bring right knee as wedge underneath his knee. Follow if I must.
  • Take left hand to control his head, gripping behind his neck. Pull him into me to finish the pass.
    • Alternative: I can bring my right hand over his far hip and pull his legs back, until my elbow touches my knee.

Full Technique Run Through: Disc 3 00:42:54