trouble with pants grabber

Hi Roy,

There's a particular guy I roll with who likes to grab my pants at the knee and pin my knees to the floor and walk around my back to pass my guard.

I cannot shrimp away from him because he's pinning my knees so my hips are facing the wrong way and I don't have enough leverage to switch them. I cannot break his grips before he passes because he quickly grabs and goes immediately for the pass, so I feel like I don't have time to break his grips. And I have tried rolling away from him, but he will often get behind me in a controlling position before I can return to guard.

Do you have any suggestions for someone who passes like this? I have some success utilizing a scissor half-guard position to hold him off, but I'd really like to be improving my basic open guard skills, not relying on a semi-closed position to stall.

I don't have a lot of experience with the gi, which is one reason I've been having trouble, I think.

Others please feel free to chime in too!


As soon as you feel him grab your pants at the knee, bring your knee to your chest.  That will make it harder for him to pin the knee, and make it easier for you to get that same side foot on the floor for leverage so you can turn into him.

Also, use your feet to keep his arms at bay, more.  Put the sole of your feet right on his biceps.  When he circles his arm around to get to your knee, just circle your foot right back around in the same direction and put it back on his bicep and push it away.  Keep alternating your feet, pushing one away then the other, just like you are climbing a set of stairs.

Keep changing sides, also.  You don't want to be "flat" on your back, you should be partially rolled to one side.  Keep alternating back and forth, and it will make it more difficult for him to get control of you.

Beyond that, a lot of it is awareness and timing, in my opinion.  More time on the mats will make you better.

Hopefully that will give you something to work on and help out until Roy can chime in.


break his grip

dont let him control the space between the elbows and knees.

Whenever my opponent grabs both my knees, I usually sit up immediately, turn to one side, post a hand behind me on the mat, and look to control my opponent's collar with a cross grip.  Then I use my posting hand to quickly strip his grip off my bottom knee, using an overhook/guillotine type motion.  As soon as his grip is broken, I immediately look to attack with a collar drag, an ankle pick, or I scoot my body underneath him to attack with a sweep.  I saw this about 4 years ago on Kenny Florian's BJJ seminar DVD, and it helped my game overnight.  I have also seen Leo Viera teaching the same type of series.

Reagan Penn shows another option on  Go to Episodes > June 01> Technique 1.

As far as rolling away from your opponent without him taking your back, here are two nice clips on that, one from Roy:

And one from Saulo:

Another option when he tries to rush past your knees:



Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Spend a considerable amount of time working on arm control (e.g. two on one, reverse two on one, underhook, overhook, figure four, reverse figure four, etc...). With good arm control and tons of pressure, he will be off balance and unable to gain a good grip on your pants.

  2. Spend a considerable amount of time working on guard control with your eyes closed. I assume you already have a good guard. But even if you don't, training with your eyes closed (with a good training partner) will help you with your timing.

  3. When your opponent grabs your pants, you grab his sleeves and hold them at your knees. Go to your knees and/or replace the guard when he tries to release his grip. Yes, he will try to put his body weight on your chest, but since his hands will be temporarily glued to your knees (because you are holding them there), you will have a temporary advantage.

Give these a try!

Roy Harris