Keenan Cornelius is a stand out of our current generation of elite BJJ athletes. Getting a bronze medal in the 2017 ADCC he’s clearly at the top of his game. He’s constantly innovating in the art, creating new techniques like his worm guard, mantis guard and more, and pushing the boundaries of modern BJJ.

He’s technology-literate, has his own instructional website, talks on forums and is also notoriously steroid-free in a world where it appears commonplace. Recently in a thread on his Instagram he said: “I fight roided out freaks of nature and the only way I beat that is with better technique”.

Frankly, I think he’s got a point.

While Keenan is mostly known for his worm guard (a lapel guard system), I wan’t to take a closer look at another of his innovations, the cross-grip guard pass.

Here’s his explanation of how it works:


It seems simple, and it is! After having some success using it in training I decided to watch a few of Keenan’s recent matches to see how it works against higher level opposition. Because he’s a very active competitor finding a 2017 Keenan match online is not a problem. You can see its influence in a lot of his fights.

Here’s a couple:

You can see him use the cross-grip guard pass here, at around the 1.40 mark:



Against Tim Sprigs at the New York Pro:



You can see him working the cross grip into a leg drag pass to the back at 8.22:



Of course, no one guard pass is the answer to everything. The cross-grip is a variation of the Torreando guard pass, which you also need to have in your arsenal. Here’s a few tips from Keenan on how to improve it:


And it’s also worth watching this video on grips. It’s interesting that he describes guard passing as being more technical than guard playing.