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How to Leg Drag Guard Pass in BJJ

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


Leg Drag History

It's rare when a "new" move in BJJ comes along and then becomes essential for all competitors to understand in order to be able to compete effectively. The leg drag guard pass has become a staple of sport Brazilian jiu-jitsu within the past decade. Before that, there have always been less refined, far less effective versions of the current iteration out there. Nowadays, it's a favorite of perhaps a quarter of all competitors. It has seen a staggering rise in popularity.

How to Do a Basic Leg Drag Pass

  1. Start by stepping in between your partner's legs (we'll assume it's your right leg stepping forward). This means that you can focus on one leg instead of having to deal immediately with both feet on your hips, keeping you away.
  2. Reach across to your partner's right leg with your right hand, making a grip at the bottom of their pants leg, and reinforce this with your left hand on their heel.
  3. Bring your hips forward in order to bend your partner's right leg, and then move your hips back (you can use both hands to facilitate this as well, but don't rely on them).
  4. Here's the "drag" portion of the move: Act as though you are putting a sword away into its scabbard by shoving their right foot past your right hip.
  5. Drive your left knee forward in order to pin their left leg to the mat, and then reinforce the idea that their leg is across their body, beyond the point of no return, by grabbing their lapel and making sure your forearm is across their thigh (very, very difficult to overcome).
  6. Use your free (left) hand to pin their biceps, or else you may need to transition into a leg drag to the back.

Moving Into the Position

The "drag" portion of the leg drag isn't really the core of the move, exactly. Instead, the focus should be on your overall body positioning, not a physical "drag" to get their leg where you need it.

Here's a good example of this phenomenon. Here, just focus on getting the closed guard open while standing. Once the guard is open, the idea is to crowd their space with your left knee, so that you can swim ("windmill" your arms) your body to the other side, not really moving their legs too much.

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Note that the key difference here is that you're moving yourself into the same "leg drag position," even though you aren't executing what many might consider a "leg drag." Another detail here: You can use your triceps/armpit as a means to control their leg, not just your forearm/lapel, as described earlier.

A Sneakier Version of the Leg Drag Pass

Another great example of moving around their legs in order to get into the 'drag" is here with passing reverse De La Riva guard. As you go to hit a solid X-pass on your partner, they are likely to try to follow you. This sets them up for the same position we just created when opening the closed guard and moving around their legs; here, you just need to drop your right knee so that you can slide it right behind your partner's legs, and through to the other side.

To the Back

Another great finish to the leg drag pass can be either a back take or an Ezekiel choke. The basic mechanics of the pass are very much the same, right up to the point where you pin their biceps to keep them from turning away from you. Instead, encourage this phenomenon by allowing your partner's arm free, allowing their body to turn away. This is described well in the Leg Drags to the Back tutorial; the key here is giving your partner two terrible choices, and allowing them to dig their own grave.

My Experience

I myself have watched my own leg drag game evolve with the times. As a purple belt competing between 2003 and 2006, I was privy to much of this development. Today, it seems inconceivable to be a purple belt competitor, traveling all over the place, and not knowing how to do a leg drag guard pass, but that's how the scene was.

The innovations that arise due to sport jiu-jitsu comprise one of my favorite things about the art, and create a compelling argument for paying attention to the competition scene, if only for the innovations. As always, please let me know if these techniques make sense and work for you!

© 2018 Andrew Smith

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