Guard Passing in Judo

I know that the guard is used quite frequently in Judo, but is guard passing also taught and developed to a fairly high level of proficiency?

To me it would only make sense for guard passing to be learned and practiced by Judokas since once one is in an opponent's guard, in order to work for a pin or a sub one must pass the guard, but I haven't heard too much of a discussion of guard passing on here in the Judo forum.

If guard passing is taught, practiced, and seen quite frequently in Judo circles, how is it different from what one may see in competition (or in practice) among BJJists?

Hun, yes. you can lift the opp. to get a matte. likewise, your opp. can just close his guard and fight like hell to hold you and get the matte as well.

guardpassing is taught and used A LOT in every dojo i have gone to (outside of the McDojo's which dunno jack shit). in judo the object is to secure the osaekomi (pin) when passing the guard moreso than to take an armlock or a choke.

the best guard-passers in judo are also very good at pinning people. in fact, the methods used generally require a very high degree of physical pressure to be placed on the opp. in order to loosen his leg enough to pass them completly. usually the pressure is placed on either the head, neck, jaw, throat, temples, thighs, groin, or hip-joints.. the ways are various, but it must be done within the rules so using a fist to the throat or hands to the face would be penalized.

you must also realize that there is a limited amount of time. a good ref is only going to give you about 5-10 seconds to get to the boarderline point of almost being out, then another 5 or 10 seconds to get completly out and take the pin. you must pass the guard fully, 1/2 guard is nothing in judo.

i hope that helps a bit.

"However, what really surprised me was that most BJJ guys did not mind getting pinned with a Yoko Shiho Gatame(pinning from the side). They looked like they were more focused on not getting mounted. "

The apparent willingness for BJJ guys to allow Yoko Shiho etc vs mounting has much to do with the rules in BJJ competition. A pin from the side doesn´t earn points per se whilst a mount earns 4 points - therefore it makes a lot more sense to stop a mount!

I was lucky enough to watch this year´s Mundial live and the standard of standing skills employed different significantly: some players looked all Judo, whilst others were clearly uncomfortable until they hit the ground.

Anyone know why the yoko shiho hold is not counted in bjj?

I think it has to do with the Gracie's idea of superior positioning in a street fight. As least that's what I've been told. Mount and Knee-on-Stomach are both given points because they are good positions to punch from, and backmount with hooks is given points because of the threat of a choke.

I think with the way the game has evolved now, people are striking just as effectively (in some cases more so) from the sidebody position than they are from the mount. KO's and cuts from knees and elbows are ending more fights from sidebody. Matt Hughes vs. Carlos Newton II was one of the greatest displays of pinning and hitting from sidebody that I've seen. Lindland vs. Baroni II was good also.

So anyway, I think if the rules were being made up today, it might be different, but that's how they looked at it back in the day.

"Anyone know why the yoko shiho hold is not counted in bjj?"

It isn´t that pins aren´t counted in BJJ, just that the awarding of points is interpreted differently. Points are awarded when a player detangles the opponents legs then moves and gains control of the opponent´s side - this is typically termed passing the guard and is awarded 3 points. Therefore a typical scoring combination is a guard pass to kesa (3 points) followed by kesa to mount (+4 points). Unlike Judo, BJJ holds aren´t timed - one need only establish control (which is a bit subjective) to be awarded the points.

Believe it or not but the guard passing sequences that is taught to beginners by Roy Harris and Mike Jen which they learn from Joe Moreira originally came from Isao Okano.

He shows the exact same sequence in his book "Vital Judo: grappling techniques".

Joe Moreira spent a year in Japan training under Isao Okano. 6 days a week, 2 hours of stand up and 2 hours of ground fighting was the training schedule at Isao Okano's dojo according to Joe Moreira.

Yoko shio (side mounth) is worth points in BJJ, but kesa/kata gatame (scarf hold) are not.

It is very hard to pass guard and pin in judo if the guy wants to stall or is good. So you don't get a chance very often...

Side mount is NOT a scoring position in BJJ.


Any submission (tap out by competitor) ends the match with a winner. If time expires and no submission has occurred, then the competitor who has earned the most points wins. If time has expired and points are even, then it is a referee's decision, based on typical elements such as aggressiveness, control of the fight, minor progress, or "advantage" points in some tournaments. Techniques which earn points are:

* 2 points. Takedown from standing
* 2 points. Knee-on-stomach position
* 2 points. Scissor, sweep, or flip, using legs (from bottom position to top)
* 3 points. Passing the guard
* 4 points. Mount
* 4 points. Mount on back (with leg hooks in) 

Note in particular that no points are given for reversals, e.g. escaping from the bottom of the mount

"Side mount is NOT a scoring position in BJJ"

Depends on the tournament.

"no points are given for reversals"

Depends on the tournament.

Edited for clarity and niceness sake.

What is "Side Mount"?

Typically during BJJ competition (including the Pan-Pacs and Mundial) holding side control (as distinct from Mount) is not awarded points UNLESS the side control results from a guard pass. In that case the guard pass is awarded points once control has been established, typically through the application of side control.

Side Mount is sometimes used to describe the held player's position where, instead of being flat on their back or front, they manage to lie on their side WHILE the other player is still holding a Mount. CBJJ rules state (simplified some) that a Mount is awarded points as long as the player holding mount has at least one knee on the ground and is straddling the opponent.

"Reversals" are the most confusing aspect of the BJJ scoring system I've ever had the miss-fortune to encounter... I'm yet to meet anyone who can describe to me how they are scored and the logic behind them. Fortunately in the majority of competitions I've been involved with Reversals haven't been scored at all.

"I dunno, before BJJ became popular I NEVER EVER saw more than 5-6 different gurard passes in Judo. "

I've done jiu-jitsu for the last 6 years and I've never found even a need for more than 5-6 different ways to pass the guard. On a normal basis I only use 1-2 guard passes. Having one good one for closed guard and one for open guard(which sometimes can be the same one) is all you really need.)Just my 2 cents.

in competition most judokas will have a limited variety of techniques from ANY given position. they will be the techniques that they can generally get a good amount of progress with in a small amount of time so as to avoid the matte.

it is completely different in BJJ where you are given pretty-much unlimited time spans to make progress.. in this case it makes perfect sense to know as many passes as possible.

seeing how judo spends far less time focused on newaza, and how only part of that time can be devoted to any 1 particular position, there is very good reason why a judoka would tend to have fewer viable options and need to specialize in a few given techniques that he seems to have a nack for.

there is nothing wrong with this, its the nature of the beast, nothing more, nothing less.

if judo allowed a solid minute of newaza more like sambo does then the game would be different.

adversley, if BJJ had a rule that would stop the players in a stalemate after 1 minute and stand them back up i think that they would make some serious specialization adjustments as well.

If a BJJ tournament is awarding points for side mount or scarf hold then they are not following the traditional BJJ scoring system.

Some people may be confusing a guard pass score for side mount since that is the most likely position to end up in.

(Apologies for hijacking the thread, but it's rare to find anyone who can put more than two original sentences together when it comes to talking about BJJ rules).


Thanks for the effort re your explaination of Reversals:

"Reversals simply means, reversing the guard. That is, if you are on the BOTTOM of the guard position and sweep/reverse the opponent that is in your guard..."

So maybe what you're hinting at is that a Reversal has all the same elements of a Sweep but doesn't require leg involvement? If that is the case, maybe the defination of a Sweep should be broadened to encompass Reversals? Interestingly enough the CBJJ rules (as used in the Mundials - see are becoming quite extensive (and are in English too!) and make no mention of any Reversal-type scoring situations...

"However, if you are being pinned, say in full-mount, and you manage to reverse, you will logically not be given points for reversing since you were caught in an inferior position"

I agree with your mount example, however I've seen the Reversal logic being applied to people first escaping then obtaining side-control (i.e. Reversing Side Control). Another example of Reversals being scored (that I can recall) is someone escaping from Turtle to hold side-control. Scoring such "Reversals" in my mind is inconsistent with the existing (typical) BJJ competitive rules - but given the relative immaturity of the sport it's not surprising.

A sweep is something you do from guard/half-guard...

a reversal is a move that you reverse the position with as in you were on bottom before and now get to top with one move...

it is really simple imo - you are pinned in kesa and do a bridge and come to top you get reversal points.... you are pinned down in side control and you reverse the position an end up in side control you get reversal points...

mount doesn´t count cause if you reverse it you end up in guard which is not a superior position for you but him in BJJ

this is the scoring that tournaments have had i have been to

I do both (newbie at each mind you) BJJ and Judo, and basically as othres have stated the different rules (and the addition of more legal submissions) changes the basic goals in sparring and tournaments.

First since it doesn't appear anyone has mention it, in BJJ you get 3pts for passing the guard; but only if you establish control of the opp for 3secs afterwards. Ie. you need to pass from between his legs and then pin him for 3secs. No pin, or less than 3secs no pts.

You get points for 'knee on stomach', mount (tate shiho) and 'taking the back with both hooks in'. Yoko shiho and kesa do not score, neither does kami shiho.

You are basically given unlimited time for newaza, so you need to know more than 1-2 ways to pass or you're in trouble. In shiai you'll get stood back up to fast for it to make a difference. In class randori thou depends on the skill of the guys guard.

Sweeps only count for pts if they happen from 'a guard position' be that: closed, open, spider, 1/2, butterfly, etc. Only from guard. A reversal from top to bottom scores no pts if from say yoko shiho.

HOWEVER, for some no gi sub-wrestling tournments you get 1pt for every 'change of position' that is going from bottom to top, no matter what pin/position you were in.

Unlike judo, the rules for each BJJ/sub-wrestling tournment vary.. a lot. Compare the NAGA rules to QC rules for example :)

"it is really simple imo - you are pinned in kesa and do a bridge and come to top you get reversal points.... you are pinned down in side control and you reverse the position an end up in side control you get reversal points..."

To my mind that is inconsistent with other BJJ rules. For example, BJJ rules specifically only reward (via points) mount and knee-ride pins - other pins aren't rewarded unless UNLESS resulting from a guard pass.

The reward for escaping kesa is simply that i.e. the Escape. If the escape resulted in mount then the player would be awarded 4 points. Pretty simple.

The inclusion of Reversals effectively rewards people for Escaping. If the emphasis is on the subsequent Pin then why aren't such pins awarded points in other situations? (Not that I necessarily expect an answer :-)

Basically a reversal when you get to top is a good thing to score imo - you were on bottom now you make a great move to escape and are on top in a very good position. It is basically the same as with guard passing - you get the top and you get the points. It is not scoring escaping as in turning to turtle or putting someone back to guard. I think they should be counted cause they are the same as sweeps basically and the focus is on a good move that gets you to top not on the subsequent position (hate the word pin)

The thing is IMO the rules were like that - sometime round last year or so they only started giving sweep points for sweeps from the guard but I am not sure.