Artwork courtesy of Carmel Ward:

Some Helpful Tips on Passing The Pesky Knee Shield

Both schools that I’ve trained at put a fair amount of emphasis on the knee shield half guard (also known as Z guard). It’s not only a great guard for BJJ, it’s also a great guard for avoiding strikes and managing distance in MMA and altercations. Demian Maia has often used it to near perfection in the UFC.

For those unfamiliar with knee shield, Here’s Bernardo Faria with a brief breakdown of the basics:

However, passing the knee shield can be quite a challenge. A good guard player with the right grips and a strong knee shield can feel like grappling with the Gordian Knot. Worse, all that pushing and pulling with their grips and knee shield can make one feel like a breathless accordion of sorts.

As with all tips on passing, it’s vital that you don’t allow your opponent to get his or her necessary grips. That saves so much time and energy.

Secondly, you need to have a strong base and posture. Otherwise, prepare to be assailed by a whole series of sweeps.

Here are the few knee shield passes I’ve had the most success with so far:

Rafa Mendes – Knee Slice Pass

The following knee slice variation that Rafa Mendes teaches against the knee shield is really good and served me well in the past. I’ve begun to shy away from it as of late because a training buddy of mine has become incredibly adept at catching me in a baseball bat choke from the bottom as I begin to wedge my head toward him and pass. Still, it’s a solid pass and one that you should have in your repertoire:

X Pass Against The Knee Shield

What I currently prefer is the following x pass against the knee shield. This particular pass is contingent on two key points though: Don’t, of course, allow your opponent their grips and, more importantly, be first (a very crucial aspect of passing). Also, the knee slice can be used in combination with this particular pass:

Braulio Estima’s Cradle Pass Against The Knee Shield

The following pass sequence by Braulio Estima against the Knee Shield is brilliant though complex. If you’re unfamiliar with folding passes or are a novice at passing in general, I highly recommend waiting a bit before trying to implement this one in your game. Otherwise, it’s a beautiful and effective sequence. I’ve only just begun drilling it and can’t wait to have it fully in my arsenal of passing sequences:

For more info on passing in general check out the following:

Also, check out Carmel Ward’s awesome BJJ artwork here:

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