Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.
Uncrossing the Feet and Finishing the Tozi Pass
You're no doubt going to find yourself unable to uncross your opponent's ankles simply by pushing on the shin. Here are the easiest two ways to uncross the feet, plus one additional "dirty" trick to either get them uncrossed or to simply finish your opponent with an ankle lock.
Before moving forward, make sure you are familiar with some fundamental overhook attacks from guard!
Quick note: this tutorial is a follow-up to the first Tozi pass tutorial, which you can find here.
Method #1: Left Over Right
First and foremost, it's important to understand which way your partner's feet are crossed. Is it right over left, or left over right? Instead of taking a look back there (and potentially ruining your balance in the process), use your hips as your eyes, feeling where your partner's ankles are and how they're crossed. With more and more experience, this becomes much easier and more intuitive.
- Once you've determined that the feet are crossed left over right (assuming you're passing the same direction as me in the videos) and have pinned the hip and switched your base, apply downward pressure on the bottom (right) shin first, making absolutely sure to keep your elbow in as you do this.
- Now open your hip up by pointing your left knee up at the ceiling, making sure your knee is above your partner's right heel.
- Now simply "chop" downward with your left thigh, scraping your partner's heel down and opening their guard up.
In this video example, I simply pass to half guard, but I have the underhook and crossface, which is a very dominant half guard top position.
Method #2: Right Over Left
Once again, your hips are sprawled and your base is very low, and you've just switched your hips. Again, you're pushing down against your partner's inside right shin, but you notice that your partner has crossed their right foot over their left this time.
- This time, your right hip is simply sliding forward and then opening up. The downward pressure of your right hand on their shin, coupled with the opposite direction of your opening hip, will combine to create enough tension to open nearly every guard when their feet are crossed this way.
- This time, to finish the pass, I'm simply shooting my left leg back enough to clear my partner's right leg, then "baseball sliding" into modified kesa gatame (since their guard opens wide momentarily).
Method #3: Ankle Lock
Suppose your partner doesn't allow you to uncross your feet. Oh noes! Not to worry; you can actually capitalize on this stubbornness.
- As you switch your hips, make sure your partner's ankles are between your legs.
- Now simply step over with your top leg (it's really tough to step with the bottom leg without compromising your base) and triangle your legs, and then push your hips forward to finish a nasty ankle lock.
- Note: if their feet are crossed left over right, the pressure will take longer to achieve, but the end result will be like a heel hook; whereas if their feet are crossed right over left, the pressure will be like a straight footlock. Either way, be sure to use extreme caution and apply pressure slowly!
This can take people by surprise, just like the first time you catch someone on your back crossing their feet.
Time and Repetition
I've certainly put in some time on this pass, and it took a long, long time before I felt comfortable enough to use it in competition—probably five years of playing with it at the gym, although I wasn't drilling the technique obsessively as I would now if I wanted to get good at something. However, the dividends are huge.
I no longer dislike ending in the closed guard. After drilling and experimenting at the gym, you can feel great doing this pass, and uncrossing the ankles is just one portion of the pass, but it's one you can get down much sooner than the rest of the pass.
Enjoy, have fun, and let me know what you think! Feel free, as always, to check out some of my other guard passing material, including passing reverse De La Riva guard, advanced knee cut passing, and using the Kimura to pass.