How many sweeps/passes?

How many sweeps/passes do you generally feel people need to get good at from bottom/top of guard, respectively? How many do you personally do?

I feel a bit limited as far as sweeps go, as the only ones I feel good about on a fully resisting person are the elevator sweep (a few different variations from butterfly guard) and the push sweep. I'm working on the overhead sweep/s but haven't been able to use them while rolling yet. I also do a couple different ways of taking the back, if you want to count that as a sweep.

My passing game is a bit limited as well. I generally just do the standard leg over shoulder pass where you also control the leg that isn't over your shoulder, and I combo it with the pass from the same position where you just scoot over the leg that's not over your shoulder. I also sometimes do the double underhook pass where you stack them, and the pass where you control both of their legs together and sit your hips down, straightening both of their legs while you either walk around or crawl up straight into mount.

So do you think 3 sweeps and 3 passes are sufficient and I should just practice those all day long, or do you think I should try to widen my arsenal even though I wouldn't be quite as good with each?

one is enough of each if you're really good at it. I have 7 or 8 sweeps I use and 3 or 4 good guard passes.


I am a believer in knowing about 3 moves for every sub-situation of every basic position. For example, 3 moves from the overhook guard, 3 moves for the armdrag guard, 3 moves from the high mount, 3 moves from the low mount, 3 guard passes, 3 escapes from the side mount, 3 back mount attacks.

People can position their limbs in such a way that they are safe from a 2 move combo, but usually they have to move and react in some way if you attack with a 3 move combo.

For example, when you are trying to get the triangle from the overhook guard, you can push his non-overhooked arm to the outside or inside to get your leg on his neck. So essentially those are 2 moves. But you opponent can pin his elbow to the side of your hips, making it impossible for your leg to go either side of his arm. That's where the third move will be helpful. You could choose the elevator sweep or the omoplata.

Let's take a look at how the elevator sweep forces him to react: If you threaten to sweep him to the side where he's pinning your hip, he will have to base out with that hand or get swept. So he can no longer let his arm stay there in that "safety zone" near your hip. From the mount, moves that aren't the most high percentage moves in the world, like the fist choke and the americana bent armlock, can often work as great setup moves for higher percentage moves, such as the armbar, side choke, etc. I hope you have an idea what I'm talking about.

Obviously when you get better, those numbers will increase, but to begin with, I think it's good to know a few moves (3 is good) from (almost) every situation.

Also, to simplify things, it really helps to know about the principles of the basic positions and not just a bunch of techniques. Here's an example of the basic principles of the bottom part of the guard:

And here's an example of the basic principles of the bottom part of the half guard:

(Note that currently this web site seems to be down, for some reason, but it's usually up and running.)

By the way, the moves you described are all basic jiu jitsu moves that are essential to know well. The basics are what works, most of the time. It sounds like you are already well on your way to becoming a decent grappler, so keep up the good work and keep learning.

Hope this helps,


I think Jon is correct. Knowing one move from a position is never enough.