Let’s look at how one of the biggest names in the sport passes the guard

Despite being young, Leandro Lo is already a legend in the sport of BJJ, and he’s only just getting started. Training out of the same gym as the Myao brothers in Brazil, Lo has been winning major comps for a few years now, moving up in weight while doing so. He won this year’s Pan Ams against Romulo at medium heavy. His matches are always exciting to watch, as his style is characterised by frenetic guard passing and what appear to be plenty of mad scrambles.

“No plan of action ever survives contact with the enemy”
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

I find Lo’s game interesting because it (at least appears to be) simple, and having a simple game-plan is no bad thing in a sport.  Of course, if you are training BJJ full time and can afford to train everyday then you can drill a large number of very complex passing sequences, until you have the timing and reflexes necessary to pull them off against a good, resisting opponent in a live roll. If you are more of a ‘twice a week guy’ with a family and work commitments then it is hard to find the time to master complicated passing sequences where you flip from side to side. Keeping things simple means you’re more likely to be able to pull them off live without keeping your minimum rep rate in the high thousands.

Lo is known for his trademark passing techniques, including:

  • Torreanda
  • Knee slide
  • Back step
  • Leg drag
  • Active posting and face cranking
  • Windscreen wiper step-over (also called foot over foot pass)

In the guard, he again keeps things simple and usually uses his trademark “Leandro Lo Guard”, which is to grab the pant legs with one hand and a spider guard on the bicep with the other. Rather than try to submit from the guard he’s normally looking for a Spider X/Single X sweep so he can get on top and initiate is strong passing game. This guard formation seems to be incredibly hard to pass, as you can see here:

The pass master

His guard needs its own article, but it’s his passing game that we’re interested in here. There are already lots of videos on YouTube breaking down Lo’s passing (and guard) game, but I wanted to do my own breakdown of a roll he had with Ben Baxter of Ribeiro Jiujitsu, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I think this roll in an academy is a better example of Lo’s passing game than all the grainy competition footage, usually shot from a long distance away. This video is shot up close, so you can see every detail clearly.

Secondly, because it’s a roll and not a competition Lo and Ben are not in ‘kill’ mode and Lo is playing and opening up his game, so you get to see a lot more of it than usual. In this roll Lo shows his trademark passing techniques in all their glory.

And finally, for selfish reasons I’d like to be able to do half of what Lo does, and creating this breakdown is a valuable exercise for me to help understand his game.

Here’s the full video of the roll:

And here’s my breakdown of Lo’s signature moves, with timestamps and gifs.

Click here to go to the next part of the breakdown.