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Arm Trap (Dirtball) Tozi Pass Tutorial for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

If your details are tight, not only is this pass all but unstoppable, the submission is very, very likely to follow immediately.

If your details are tight, not only is this pass all but unstoppable, the submission is very, very likely to follow immediately.

The Good Old Dirtball

This guard pass is very, very effective if you can trap the arm, but it's also very, very frustrating for the guy on the bottom to deal with, and some might argue that it's a "cheap" pass. To this I will happily respond: It's not cheap if it works. Burn!

Anyway, this guard pass is probably one of the very first guard passes I ever started using effectively (if terribly incorrectly). This can be not only an extremely effective pass, but also an extremely technical one.

Note: For a more conventional closed-guard opening, check out this tutorial.

All of the Key Details First

Before we go into the "dirtball" pass, let's be sure we understand all of the key details of the Tozi pass first, since we'll want to constantly reference and reinforce them even with the arm trapped underneath. First, start by making sure your elbow (it's my right elbow in this video, so let's refer to it as your right elbow) is pinching back to control your partner's hip, preventing the omoplata. Next up, you need to control their arm with your left hand (either tight inside on the bicep the way I like to it for no-gi passing, or else by grabbing the wrist down low).

Now it's time to be sure to walk your hips off-center, pinning your partner's right knee with your belly button before switching your hips. It's okay to allow your head to be elevated, but it's not okay to let your head come off-center. When you reach to open the legs, make absolutely sure your left elbow is in tight close to your ribs! Finally, you're all set to finish the guard pass.

Catching the Arm, and Finishing

Setting the Bait, and a First Look at the Pass (and Finish)

To set the trap for the dirtball pass, you need to catch your opponent's arm. While you might be able to force someone's arm behind their back with brute force (especially on an unsuspecting n00b), this is inadvisable against a savvy opponent. Instead, lift your left leg as if to stand. As your opponent dives underneath your leg to work an off-balancing sweep technique, drop your knee back down and trap their hand under your leg. Next up, drop off to the side with your right arm underhooking low on the hips, just as though you're going through a standard Tozi/Wilson pass. As you start to work the knee pin portion of the pass, your right hand can grab their (horrifyingly trapped) right hand, completely trapping it behind their back.

Note: Although it's less likely that your partner can omoplata or triangle you from here, don't get cocky! Go through as tightly as though you're performing a typical Tozi pass. You might also need to lift your partner's hips up in order to trap the arm properly, but be sure to return back to the tight passing position as soon as possible.

Now, worst case, you're just going to pass the guard, but you'll almost certainly also be able to knee drive to mount and then pull them on top of you to finish the "schoolyard" shoulder lock.

Second Look

Here's a second (quicker) look at this pass. Again, make sure your Tozi pass details are tight enough when doing this. In this example, I flare my elbow out, and Ben is able to hook my arm from behind. Don't get cocky! If your details are tight, not only is this pass all but unstoppable, the submission is very, very likely to follow immediately.

Final Thoughts

It's important to be sure to master the basics of any technique before going with too much of a flashy variation, and this move is no exception (although the Tozi pass at its core is hardly basic). Making sure to exercise caution with your partner is equally important, particularly with the shoulder lock shown here. Don't be "that guy" (or gal), and be sure to have respect for different types of shoulders when going through both in technique and in rolling.

As always, let me know how this series works out for you! As of right now, this will be the last (fifth) volume on the Tozi pass, making this one of the most comprehensive tutorial sequences anywhere on the Internet about one technique. I hope you've enjoyed being briefly obsessed as much as I have!

© 2015 Andrew Smith