Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.
Different Ways to Finish the Tozi/Wilson/Sao Paulo Pass
There are numerous details involved with the Tozi/Wilson/Sao Paulo pass, and that's one of the things that makes this deceptively simple pass—one which seems like it really shouldn't work at all—so intriguing for me. It has been my go-to guard opening for at least five years now, and although I've used it successfully in competition at black belt numerous times, there is always something to learn and improve upon.
Here, we'll take a look at not only a different way to finish the pass by avoiding the half guard, but also reinforce some key details of the position you're likely to encounter.
Three Key Details and a New Finish
Three of the key details made abundantly clear starting with tutorial #1 on the Tozi pass are:
- Keep your elbow in to prevent the omoplata initially—this is likely to be your first stumbling block as you work on the pass.
- Never allow your head to be pushed off-center (although going straight up is okay, think of it as the lesser of evils).
- Keep your other (left) elbow in tight as you push to open the feet, lest you are caught in a "stockade" position.
Once the legs are open, keeping the knee pinned to the mat with the hand that pried the legs open (in the video, it's my left hand), you can turn your hips over as you swivel your legs, completely clearing the guard (as opposed to ending in half guard as advocated in earlier tutorials.)
Troubleshooting the Hip Pin and the Finish
- Here, you can clearly see how I'm sprawling my hip down and making sure to pin the knee with my stomach (right at my belly button).
- When walking to the side, it's extremely important not to walk in a circle (trust me; it'll happen to the best of us from time to time), as their hips can often lift as you do this, forcing you back to square one.
- Having gotten through the first steps, though, you can now look to finish the pass with maximum efficiency. After your left leg has stepped over (just like passing to half guard, as shown in the second tutorial), now is the time to plant your right knee on the ground and "yogafoot," or simply pivot your foot over their leg into side control. Finish by pushing their hips out of the way with your right knee, securing side control.
Reverse Kesa Finish
If you watch this video, you can clearly see the "chop to open" option (when your opponent crosses left over right), and from here, you need to step over first with your left leg, then pivot with your right knee on the ground in order to clear their right leg completely.
From here, it is sometimes prudent to keep your hips switched toward their legs (like a "reverse kesa gatame" side control finish) as opposed to squaring up right away, particularly if they're keeping their right knee on the ground instead of letting you scoop their hips up with your knee, as before.
Hopefully, this pass is starting to make some sense now. At first glance, it's one of those techniques you might sort of dismiss off-hand, without further investigation (I'm sure I first felt that way), but over time, the Tozi pass can certainly become a staple of solid guard passing, useful any time your posture is compromised (and sometimes even when it's not!).
Play with this sequence and expect to be swept or submitted from time to time, but with the frequency of these obstacles growing further and further apart over time until it becomes "A-game" material. As always, please let me know how these techniques work for you!