5 tips to properly pass guard in BJJ, with black-belt Herbert Burns

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Herbert Burns. Personal archive/ Instagram

Herbert Burns. Personal archive/ Instagram

Idle at ONE FC since September 2015, awaiting his deserved shot at the featherweight belt, Herbert “The Blaze” Burns continues to train normally, without ditching the gi.

A two-time no-gi Brazilian champion, Herbert, who is the brother of Gilbert Durinho, listed five teachings he considers essential to those intent on mistreating a guard player. Check ’em out and sharpen your top game!

Don’t stop before your opponent’s guard

Always move and avoid the guard player’s grips. Attack and attack until you achieve the pass. Only “rest” when you’ve reached side control. And I don’t mean stall — it’s about gaining time to set up the submission. Moving is the secret to avoiding sweeps.

Have good grips

The grip is very important to the passer; it will give you control over the situation. With good grips, you will always keep the guard player playing defense. Make your foe feel small, cornered; bear down a lot with your hips and mind your posture. The pot of gold is in their hands, and your mission is to snatch it.

Know how to press

Use your body weight properly; don’t lose your balance. Always strive to hug your enemy’s head, in order to use your shoulder as a weapon of pressure. Don’t open any space. Exert continuous pressure until you achieve the pass or reach the half-guard. It’s not about how strong you can be, but rather about controlling the guard player’s main points: legs and hips.

Use your head

The head is an important element of pressure. Use it to think and to bother your opponent, especially on the chest, on the chin and on the mat, depending on the pass you are using – whether crossing the knee or the half-spider pass.


If you are doing a speed pass — usually standing passes like the bullfighting and the leg drag, of a lot of quick shifting, — the goal is to smother your opponent’s guard with attacks. Keep your feet always moving to raise your speed and also maintain control over the guard player’s legs. Avoid changing the side of the pass, because you might end up getting trapped in the guard, being forced to change your passing technique.

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