In the old days, two guys fighting would typically back up, square off, and swing for the fences until one of them went down.
The whole idea of taking the fight to the ground, passing the guard, securing a good position, and using ground and pound to finish a fight or set up a submission would have been considered ludicrous.
But the popularity of MMA and BJJ have done a lot to educate the public about the different ranges of fighting, and about the basics of the ground game.
That means the odds of running into someone using the guard on you have gone up significantly in the last decade. An attacker (probably) won’t pull guard on you, but if you knock him down or if he slips and falls then the human instinct to get feet up in the direction of danger is pretty strong and – boom – you’ll get in the guard.
Now I’m not saying it’ll be a good guard – you probably won’t run into a Braulio Estima or Keenan Cornelius – but it’ll still be a guard nonetheless.
So there you are standing above your opponent. He’s on the ground, on his back, using his feet to protect himself and possibly bicycle-kicking your shins, groin and face.
What do you do?
There is no one-size-fits-all reaction. What you should do depends on the situation.
Sometimes the right reaction might be to run away (but only if you’re faster than the other guy)…
Sometimes the answer might be to use the extra second or two to grab an improvised weapon (QUICK! What’s the closest improvised weapon to you right now?)…
Sometimes the answer might even be to drop into a leglock and break his leg (and destroy his ability to run) with a self defense leglock…
And sometimes the right answer might be to pass the guard, either to pursue a pin, a submission, or a fight-ending KO.
Passing the guard in a street self defense situation may or may not be the right thing to do. You should still practise it though! You need to have this tool in your toolbox though, because every self defense situation is different.
Here’s a simple but still very effective guard pass that’s been proven over and over again in MMA.
The Simplest Guard Pass for Self Defense and MMA
Here’s a video from my self defense tutorials youtube channel breaking down the simplest guard pass that works in a striking context…
In jiu-jitsu and submission grappling there are many different ways to pass the guard: standing vs on the knees, pressure-based passing vs mobility based passing, etc.
But having to defend against all the punches and kicks flying through the air tends to narrow down your effective options a bit.
And also with all the stress and chaos in a real fight you might lose the coordination and presence of mind that you need for fancier guard passes.
So let’s start with simplicity and build out from there…
You see this super-simple guard pass again and again in MMA, including at the very highest levels of the UFC and other fighting organisations.
It can be used to pass the guard AND to set up a vicious barrage of punches.
I submit to you that if there’s a relatively simple move that works at the highest level against skilled athletes then that’s probably a good place for the rest of us to start.
I call this the ‘leg toss pass’ although it’s also known as the torreando pass (abeit it’s an old-school version of that pass). Fedor Emelianenko used this guard pass a TON in his prime, back when he was a monster who truly deserved the nickname of ‘the Last Emperor’!
The video above will show you three different variations of this guard pass, so check it out and then drill it with your training partners, maybe without the giant overhand right to the head though;)
More No-Nonsense Self Defense Advice for Free
My name is Stephan Kesting and I’ve been training for 37 years. I have with multiple blackbelts and instructorships in 5 different martial arts at this point.
One thing I wish I had had when I was starting out was a source of no-nonsense martial arts advice. Some good doses of reality to counteract all the silly (and sometimes downright dangerous) advice out there.
One service that I provide is a free email newsletter in which I share different techniques, drills, training methods, opinions and insights.
It gets great feedback from the readers and people get mad at me if I DON’T send out stuff often enough (so I try to do it semi-regularly).
Did I mention that it’s completely free and always will be?
Anyway, enter your best email address below if you want to get my self defense oriented emails too.
Good luck with your training!