Passing Guard: Pressure is Persuasion

“Pressure is persuasion,” I yelled to one of my students as he tried to pass his opponent’s guard. The tournament official next to me looked at me funny and smiled. “I like that,” he said. Afterward, the official and I had a conversation about persuasion and martial arts.

Part of my professional background is in communication and marketing. One of the areas I enjoy in my field is persuasion. For a marketer, that might be getting you to purchase a product or use a service. For a communicator, it might be getting you to show up to an event or fill out a survey.

But what does persuasion have to do with the martial arts? Or, more specifically, grappling arts?

In the context of passing guard, arguably one position many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners tend to want to be in, pressure can be an incredible tool. If you have me in the guard, whether it is open-guard (DLR, Butterfly, Spider, etc.) or closed-guard, I am not going to get out of it as long as you are comfortable. You have it in your mind that you are OK and I am not winning. But when I create pressure properly, I might just persuade you to let me pass.

If we are in the guard and try to create distance or separate ourselves from our opponent, it can be extremely difficult if he or she knows the intricacies of controlling posture. This is where pressure shines. By appropriately applying pressure, i.e., driving my opponent through the mat and not letting him create space or shrimp his hips, I can pass safely and end up in a top position.

Pressure is also useful because it is, in my opinion, easier to conserve energy by using gravity. If you are using passes that require several moves or a fast-paced approach, what happens when you are tired or against someone with incredible guard retention? If I am in your guard, I want to encourage you to change your mind. Pressure is persuasion. More on the idea of persuasion coming soon.

What type of guard passes do you like best?




Keep your head up.

We were just kids who wanted to wrestle. It’s hard to believe where we all are today. It seems like a different world.

As we progress through our journey in martial arts, we face many obstacles such as learning curves, harder techniques, and tougher opponents.

The young men in this picture faced obstacles over the last 9-10 years that were harder than anything experienced on the mat.

Marriage. Divorce. Kids. College. Career change. Surgery. My friend Roy to my left on the end in the black gi? He battled ALS and never lost his faith in God or Jiu Jitsu. He passed away almost a year ago.

The young men in this photo are champions all. Not because of medals or awards. In life, it’s about keeping our head up even if our hand isn’t being raised.

What are you struggling with and how can training help you overcome it?