Under The Leg Guard Pass

In the 15-minute video shown below, I’ll share with you what I call, “The PreSchool Version” of the basic under-the-leg guard pass. In this video are many details I teach to white and other colored belts who are in hot-pursuit of gaining specific skill sets in this important Jiu Jitsu training area.

Now, I refer to the contents of this video as “the Preschool Version” because (a) there is so much more information to share on this topic, (b) these details lay a solid foundation, and (c) because this version gives students a glimpse of what’s to come (i.e. the elementary, middle, and high school elements of training). To give you an idea of how much more information there is, this video represents less than 4% of what I can present to my clients on the topic.

One last thing before I show you the video: I want you to understand that this video is “technical” in nature. In other words, it teaches you a couple of handfuls of details to help you start the journey of leverage. What comes next are the higher levels of learning that will help you gain skill sets quickly and efficiently (i.e. the training methods)!

First, I’ll have you watch the video. Then, I’ll have you read the additional comments below!



OK, I have Sensei Al Lowrimore here with me, helping me with this.

First, we will begin with BASE.

NOTE: For this instructional, I begin with base. But with clients who are focused on developing skill sets in a short period of time, I begin their training with an introduction to the fundamentals – because the fundamentals lay the foundation for the basics in Harris Jiu Jitsu – and must be learned, practiced, and developed independent of the techniques.

“Base” is the idea of placing a strong foundation underneath you so your opponent/training partner will find it difficult – if not impossible – to sweep you. At best, he or she will be able to off-balance you.

NOTE: Base is an overlooked and often-undervalued topic in Jiu Jitsu training! I write that because I watch students from around the world become so focused and enamored with movement (i.e. “techniques”) that they repeatedly make themselves vulnerable for sweeps.

Take a look at my feet. I want you to get in the habit of placing the top of your feet onto the mats. This allows you to place your butt closer to the mat which in turn makes it harder for your opponent to sweep you. When you place your toes on the mat, this is not pure base. Rather, it is base mixed with mobility. In other words, it’s more 60% base and 40% mobility.

Please keep in mind this is only one of several methods of performing base (e.g. hard base, soft base, no base, etc.).

Next comes POSTURE. Posture is what you do with your body from your fingers, through your hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm, shoulder, trap, neck, and chin. Let’s talk about the chin.

When I raise my chin up and away from my sternum, I make my neck vulnerable to collar choke attacks.

So, the first part of posture has me place my chin over top of the lapel as I press my chin downwards and into my chest. This makes it much more difficult for my training partner to finish me with a collar choke.

Next, I’m going to take my right hand and grab a hold of the lapel just below the nipple line. This will help me to prevent the insertion of one hand for certain collar chokes as well as help me prevent the arm lock from taking hold.

Next, I will place my elbow and the lower third of my tricep overtop of the opponent’s left hip and the upper third of his left thigh. Placing my elbow into this position is one of six positions from where I can prevent a myriad of attacks from starting while inside of my opponent’s guard!

NOTE: Next would come the seven forms of pressure. Now, when most students think of pressure, they do so as a means of passing the guard. While there are several forms of pressure used for guard passing, the pressure I am speaking of here has nothing to do with guard passing. Rather, it has everything to do with properly positioning one’s self.

Notice the difference between my elbow being properly placed onto the thigh – and there’s no space – and when I place my elbow on my training partner’s belly button?

So when you grab a hold of the lapel, I want you to grab low enough so you can place your elbow on the thigh to stop the arm lock. And to make it difficult for your training partner to place their left hand deep in the collar, I want you to push your right fist into their armpit.

Performing base and posture properly and in the correct order, are what make it difficult for a training partner or opponent to an arm lock, choke, or sweep me. The combination of these two makes up the first part of this equation.

Part two is where our focus changes to uncrossing in the ankles.

There are several ways to uncross the ankles. Let me show you a couple that I use very often.

Once I have established some form of posture, I will bring my knees together and place my right knee at the end of my training partner’s tailbone.

Next, I’ll spread my knees and place my left foot on the mat with my left knee up and off of the mat. Doing this, I will make sure to properly position my left foot back and to the side.

NOTE: Many students make the mistake of positioning their left foot directly to the side because it feels more stable. And while it does feel good, this feeling comes at great cost – because doing so places your leg close enough for your training partner to grab it and off-balance you.

Next, I will place the heels of my hands onto my training partner’s upper torso and push my arms to full extension. I will also arch my back. Doing these two motions will uncross the ankles of most (i.e. 51-60%) training partners. For the few who don’t uncross their ankles, you will use your left elbow to push down on the inside of their knee – not their thigh to finish uncrossing their ankles.

NOTE: This method of uncrossing a training partner’s ankles works well with a good amount of practice (i.e. 4-6 hours of focused/disciplined training). However, if you find it takes too much effort to uncross their ankles, then there is a missing piece of the puzzle that must be addressed.

Next, I’d like to show you a second way of uncrossing the ankles.

The process begins with base and posture, just like the previous technique. It continues through the point in time when you place your left foot on the mat and lift your left knee off of the mat.

What happens next is I reach behind my back with my left hand. I place my left hand in the gap between my training partner’s right and left calves. I reach for the cloth on my gi pants just below my left glut, grab the cloth firmly, and then flare my left elbow. Doing this uncrosses my opponent’s ankles.

NOTE: I know it looks like my right arm is exposed, but trust me when I say, “It is not exposed.” There are a lot of things going on that I did not mention in this video. Here’s a funny story about this:

A participant at a seminar was convinced my right arm was exposed – and so was my neck for triangle choke – by placing my hand in this position. He was so convinced he repeatedly argued with me. To make a long story short, I told this gentleman, “If you arm lock or choke me in 60 seconds, I will buy you lunch at any restaurant. But if you can’t submit me and I pass your guard using the basic under-the-leg pass, you will owe me lunch and dinner tonight! Deal?” He was quiet, looked down, and finally said, “Uh…that’s ok.”

I invited him to come out and try anyway. He came out onto the mats and tried as hard as he could, but in three tries was unable to finish any submission.

Thus far, we have our base and our posture as well as a couple of different methods of crossing the ankles. We are halfway there. Stay with me.

Part three…

This is the most important part. This is where you properly position yourself before you begin to pass the guard. This position is my favorite for passing the guard. I always got to it before I tried to pass the guard. Let me show you what that looks like:

  • I’ve already established my base
  • I’ve already established my posture
  • And I’ve already uncrossed their ankles

Now, I’ll make a counterclockwise circle with my right elbow. This movement pattern will be directly underneath the top half of his calf.

NOTE: Don’t make the mistake of trying to lift the training partner’s left upper leg. It’s too heavy!

Once the training partner’s left calf is on top of my right shoulder, I will decrease the space between my chest/belly and his left hamstring. I’ll do this by driving my right knee forward and into his left armpit.

Next, I’ll turn my chest and belly to face his head.

And finally, my chest and belly will push forward towards my training partner’s head as I look up at the ceiling.

From this position, I will use my hands and arms to secure this position before I begin the process of passing the guard. I will pull my hands to my body and squeeze with my elbows together.

Next, I will show you my favorite way of passing the guard. The reason why it’s a personal favorite is that it works on almost everyone. I call this my “Salsa/Merengue under the leg guard pass.”

Once I get myself into the guard passing position, my belly button is indexed in the middle of my training partner’s hamstring.

Next, I arch my back, suck in my belly, and move my belly button a couple of inches to the right. I perform the same movement again…and again. I do this until my belly button is indexed on the side of my training partner’s left leg.

NOTE: I do all of these movements WITHOUT moving my knees or turning my hips. In other words, I don’t turn the corner with my hips because there’s no need to do that. Now, I can turn the corner if I want to. But why? It’s an extra and unneeded movement.

Finally, I drive my belly and chest forward to push my training partner’s leg off of my body so I can pass his guard. And because of where my hands are located, and because they’ve been pulling the whole time, I don’t have to worry about them turning away from me and going to their knees. All I need to do is make sure my left knee is jammed up and against their left hip so they can’t easily replace the guard.

This is a very simple and efficient way to pass someone’s guard!

So to review:

We began with base and posture. Next, we talked about a couple of methods of uncrossing the ankles. Then, we went to a position where we could control and dominate the person’s hips. And finally, we used our belly and chest to pass the guard. This is my preschool version of the basic under-the-leg guard pass.

Now, there’s a lot more technical information to be learned and practiced to effectively pass a training partner’s guard. And, in Harris Jiu Jitsu, there are 370+ training methods taught to help you develop the skill sets to pass an opponent’s guard again and again!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this video and the accompanying comments!

Good training to you,

Roy Harris

P.S. Do you have questions or comments about this post? Let me know in the comments below, by sending me an email, or by clicking on the social media icon above and writing to me there!

Copyright © 2024 Roy Harris. All Rights Reserved.

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