The Smash Pass Concept

How do you like to pass guard?

There are many ways to pass the guard. However if you look closely you can see that people usually prefer to pass standing or pass while their body is engaged with their opponent.

Standing passes include passes such as the toreando, leg drag, and the back step. In all of these passes there is typically a space between you and your opponent. The pass is done by gaining an advantageous position and passing before the opponent can tie you up into a guard situation

What is a smash pass?

A smash pass is typically lower and is often referred to as a pressure pass.

Smash passing can be defined as having the hips engaged with the opponent at all times. The passers goal is to ensure that they are as heavy as possible and that the maximum amount of pressure is being applied to their opponent. The pass is often completed by using this pressure to break the posture and guard of the opponent. This then allows you to pass into side control/mount. There are many different types of smash pass but these key concepts are present in all of them.

Examples of smash passes include the over under, half guard smash, and the leg weave.

Why is it effective?

Smash passing a great way to control the pace of the match. It allows the passer to slow the pace down and can be very useful when competing against players who like to maintain a high pace

It is also a great way of getting through complicated guards and avoiding situations when the guard player inverts.  Guards such as the DLR and various lapel guards can tie up the passer quickly and can result in the advantage quickly shifting to the player on the bottom. However, a smash pass can nullify these guards. By limiting the amount of space available to the guard player you remove the amount of options that they can attack with.

Key concepts

There are many different forms of smash pass and this is not an instructional on any particular pass. Instead I want to examine some of the key concepts and common movements of the smash pass.

  1. Hips engaged & weight distribution

In the photo below Andre Galvao is demonstrating a version of the leg weave pass which is a type of smash pass. Notice how his hips are pinning his opponent and how he is applying heavy chest pressure . There is very little space for the opponent to regain a better position. This pressure has to be maintained throughout the passing sequence.



  1. Moving opponents knees away from the centre line

This is a vital part of any smash smash and is the movement that makes it possible for the passer to free their leg(s) and complete the pass.

The knee is strong when it is in the middle. It is strong when in a knee shield or when the sole of the foot is planted and the knee is in the center.

In the picture below we can see that Rodolfo has both knees facing away and has them pinned in this position with his body weight. He has achieved this position by using his left shoulder and the weave to slowly fold the knees down towards the mat. Once the knees are pinned in this position they are structurally unsound and offer very little resistance and can be passed easily.




The crossface is another effective option available when attempting the smash pass. Once again Rodolfo Viera is a master of the crossface and will secure it at the first opportunity. The crossface can be used to move the head and spine in the other direction which ensures that they remain flat.

Trapping arms

This is another way of removing control from your opponent. By trapping the an arm they have even less ability to move and it often leaves your opponent feeling desperate.

As you attempt to pass to mount many opponents will try to defend by pushing on your attacking knee. This movement exposes them to the underhook. Once you have the underhook you can walk your arm up so that it is stretched and held against their head. This is an extremely uncomfortable position and many competitors will simply concede the pass at this stage.


Just like every other pass grips are very important when smash passing. In the video above you will see that Rodolfo uses grips on the lapel and legs to keep his opponent in position.


There are so many videos out there showing instructions on Jiu-Jitsu techniques. Typically when I watch a video I might think, “that’s cool, I might try that”. What usually happens is that I never think about the technique again. Anytime I add a new pass or move to my game it is usually done because I have an understanding of the concept. By understanding the concept you understand why the pass works and it can really help you to perfect the move. Understanding concepts also allows you to quickly develop related techniques. By writing this article I am trying to get you to think about the overall idea of smash passing and why it works.

  • Limit the space between you and your opponent
  • In particular your hips should be very tight and
  • Find strong grips to stabilise the position and to limit your opponents movement.
  • The goal is to move your opponent’s leg from a center position where it is strong to a side position where it is weak
  • Use your weight and hips to flatten the legs away from center so that the front of the kneecap is as close toa right angle with the mat as possible
  • Once you have your opponent controlled and broken the posture of the knees you will have your pick of guard passes