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A Guide on Leg-Staple Guard-Pass Combinations

Andrew Smith is a BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, Virginia. He is one of the owners of Revolution BJJ.

Learn all about leg-stable guard-pass combinations.

Learn all about leg-stable guard-pass combinations.

Leg-Staple Variations

We covered the fundamentals of the leg-staple guard pass previously, but there are several important variations covered here. While getting to the initial leg staple position on a more advanced partner is still a good idea, in practice, it's really tough to finish the classic pass in such a situation.

Enter these practical troubleshooting tips you are likely to encounter virtually every time you try the fundamental pass. Keep in mind that while a large variety of variables exist in jiu-jitsu, the most common things are going to be addressed here.

Remember the Basics

Here's a quick recap of the basic movements involved with the leg staple guard pass. Start by driving your knee across your partner's thigh, ending on the ground on the other side. This is your "staple," and it can be extremely effective when your foot and knee are on the ground, but your shin is "stapling" your partner's thigh (and hip) in place. It's a good idea to lift the far leg while you do this in order to prevent some of the situations we're going to address here, making the pass finish much simpler. From here, it's just a matter of securing upper body control for the finish.

The Knee-Cut Variation

This combination is a very simple, but elegant maneuver. Start with a basic leg staple, as described previously, but this time, instead of stepping backward to finish, slide your other knee across right on top of your other leg, executing a knee-cut guard pass. It's important to stay tight with your upper body during this transition, particularly the crossface, as this will keep your partner from being able to turn in toward you to recover guard.

Simple Tweak: No Crossface

A situation frequently arises wherein you can't establish a crossface in order to finish the basic leg staple pass. While moving to the knee cut can work some of the time, another alternative is to simply grab in a different spot in order to establish the same overall effect. One method is to grab the far collar, thumb in, in order to help pin the person's shoulders to the mat. Another option is a simple hip-switch; in this case, you need to use your ribs in order to keep your partner turned away from you.

Leg Staple Over/Under

This version of the pass can be incredibly effective; over the years, I would struggle with partners who were very good at this. Start by sliding your knee across and lifting your other leg, per usual. One common response is a leg scissor; this can be incredibly annoying for the person passing, and it's appropriate guard maintenance.

As soon as the scissor comes into play, it's time to think: direction change. Swim under the leg they're using to frame (be careful not to tweak your partner's knee during this step), and then grab the collar once you have their leg jacked up under your shoulder. Now it's time to treat this guard pass just like a double-under pass.


The leg staple might be the first guard pass I ever learned. As a consequence, my training partners and I have been going for this pass for more than 20 years together, developing defenses, getting opportunities to counter the defenses, and, in a nutshell, evolving. In spite of the longevity and age of the pass, it continues to evolve, like everything else in jiu-jitsu. This means paying attention to how your partners are countering your pass attempts all the time; your work is never, ever done here. As always, please let me know how these techniques are working for you!

© 2017 Andrew Smith