The knee slide is a guard pass that you need to know how to defend against
I’ve noticed recently that when I get my guard passed it’s always because I didn’t do something quite basic in the correct way. Everybody knows that when somebody’s weight is bearing down on you, you are meant to make space and hip escape to get your guard back. And that’s ok against a white belt who hasn’t learned how to put a lot of pressure on you through their structure yet, but against an higher belt, or against somebody much heavier than you, simply making space and hip escaping can become next to impossible… unless you do it absolutely correctly.
When you feel a lot of weight bearing down on your arms you tend to freeze up and try and hold them off instead of moving. Well, I do anyway. Inevitably that leads to you getting your guard passed because gravity is on their side and you’ve become immobile. To initiate the correct response you often have to give up the perceived safety of your arm frames and open up so you can move, and all your instincts are telling you not to do that!
Frame and hip escape
Here I want to look at exactly how and when to use a hip escape to defend the guard pass. There are some important details you need to know which can make all the difference – like which way to face and how to use your hand as a frame against your opponent’s ‘leading edge’. Against high level opposition all these little details matter.
As a frame of reference for this article I’m going to use this YouTube video, which is produced by Stephan Kesting and Rob Biernacki on the Frame and Hip Escape. The video is taken from a longer DVD, which I own the smartphone app version of. I’d really recommend you buy it because the guard maintenance concepts he shows are excellent, containing over 2 hours of essential BJJ information. Although I have one minor grumble… Rob deals almost exclusively in ‘conceptual jiujitsu’, which means that he’d rather spend time teaching you concepts and principles than teach you specific techniques. So, in a way you’re often left to you work out the more basic details for yourself. That’s all well and good, but my problem with the conceptual approach is that there are some fine technical details that do matter, and these often get brushed over in favour of imparting a higher principle to the audience. I tend to think that in order to get the concept to work you need to have a technique broken down in a technical way so you can understand everything, which is what I’m going to try to do here.
Here’s the full video:
Defending the knee cut pass
Usually the way we start rolling in jiujitsu is that we both start on our knees then one person usually sits back and starts playing guard. He’s on the ‘bottom’ and the other person in on the ‘top’. The top player then usually stands up to pass because this offers more help from gravity. It also reduces the risk of being pulled into the closed guard. When you are standing and the other person is on their back, the knee cut pass and the x pass/step pass/torreando variations are the two main passes you’ll have to deal with.
There are various videos online showing the knee cut pass, all with slight variations.