The traditional Gracie Jiu Jitsu guard pass has been debated for well over two decades. This “one
arm in and one arm out” guard pass has been criticized for opening the doors to being caught in a
triangle choke. Is such a criticism accurate?
The truth is that if you are loose and sloppy with this pass then you are going to find yourself in
trouble with attempts at the triangle choke. However, the pass itself does not automatically leave
you vulnerable because the pass is designed with a host of built in defenses for the triangle.
In order for someone to triangle choke an opponent, the legs must – surprise – form a triangle
around the upper torso of the opponent driving the shoulder into the carotid artery. If the player
cannot perform this function with his legs then it would be very difficult for the triangle choke to
To make sure such an occurrence does not happen, it is well advised to pay strict attention to
detail when performing the triangle choke. This means you have to control the legs with your
arms and knees. One arm should control the leg so that it cannot possibly triangle itself with the
other leg. This may require you to hug the leg tight to your body but so be it. Holding the leg
very tight will contribute to preventing your opponent from defending against your guard pass.
More on the Counter to the Gracie Jiu jitsu Guard Pass: The Triangle Choke
So, really, there is nothing wrong with the traditional guard pass at all. You just need to learn the
fine points and details and also drill passes with it.
By drilling, it is meant your partner will try to triangle (or sweep, armbar, etc) you when you are
trying to pass his guard. The resistance your partner gives you should only be about 40% since
you are trying to improve your ability to pass and are not sparring. You might find it takes more
than a little time to get all the bugs out of your guard pass but that is fine. Eventually, you will
improve the pass to the point it works tremendously well for you.