Rafael Lovato Jr. Pressure Passing

January 8, 2013
5 minutes read

Rafael Lovato Jr.’s Passing Game

Rafael Lovato Jr Submits  Kayron Gracie with RUTHLESS Kimura




Lovato Jr and Gracie faced up in mid October, Lovato Jr (USA) winning by submission (Kimura). Lovato Jr is well known in his guard passing techniques which are very applicable and you’ll be able to mess around with them and add them to your BJJ toolbox.

One of his passes that I am fond of is the “Smash Pass.” This is especially useful against opponents who play the dangerous and annoying “Spider” game. .

Rafael’s Smash Pass Video Instruction

You’ll notice how Lovato increases his center of balance (he also emphasizes in his video) by keeping a super low and super strong base.

He initiates the pass by essentially “stepping” in to his opponents guard and immediately using his penetrating leg to apply pressure to his opponents hamstring and inner thigh. He directs his knee forward, towards his opponents belt region. Lovato is generally successful in doing so, namely because of the power he is able to generate through his penetrating shin from keeping a low, strong base.

Secondly, he applies another mode of pressure to his opponents leg by using his elbow as a lever on the inside of his opponents knee, simultaneously grabbing the collar of his opponent.

Recognize that he now has two strong levers enacting pressure on his opponents leg.

Annihilating Spider Guard

We’ve all been faced against an opponent who lives by the spider guard. The spider hooks are very dangerous to a standing and at times seated opponent against experienced opponents.

When your opponent attempts to hook their leg around your arm in a “Spider” like fashion, Lovato’s technique of choice is to straighten his arm out. Think of bouncing a ball off the opposite side of your elbow–arm extension.

SIDE NOTE:  You must be simultaneously controlling your opponents other leg, grip his gi pants at the foot region and direct his foot underneath your base. The goal is to be able to use your weight and “sit” on your opponents foot making it immobile.

The next step Lovato teaches is to switch your stance. By doing do, you stop your opponent from being able to tilt off to their side and be able to better use their spider hook.


Step your right leg back and penetrate your opponents guard with your left applying pressure to his inner thigh and hamstring.

Be sure NOT to REPLACE your right leg with your leg. You are applying pressure to your opponents other “Non Spider Hook” leg.


Now what you’re going to focus on is grabbing your opponents ankle and applying pressure down.

Yes, we are aiming to apply downwards pressure to our opponents hips and legs, essentially tilting them and “glueing” one of their hips to the mat.

Simultaneous, as we are applying downward pressure on his foot, we rip our hand that was attached at his collar out. This breaks his grip on the sleeve of our gi.

Your opposite hand (left in the video) moves to apply pressure on his leg. Use your forearm to apply pressure while simultaneously grabbing his gi.

Now, immediately look for HEAD CONTROL.

If he decides to turn, what do we do?  BACK CONTROL, BACK CONTROL, BACK CONTROL

Check out some more of his passing videos below

Here’s a 13 minute video where Lovato shows multiple passes



Until Next Time,

Coach Daniel Faggella

Daniel Faggella
Daniel Faggella

Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.

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