How Tye Ruotolo Passed Levi Jones-Leary’s Guard

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By now, you should know I love Lucas Lepri and how he passes almost everyone’s guard.​

And Levi Jones-Leary is one of the few people Lepri couldn’t make his guard passing magic work.​

Levi is an excellent guard player known for his DLR and berimbolo.​

Levi faced Tye Ruotolo recently at World 2022 and… Tye managed to pass Levi’s guard without so much trouble.​

Here’s a video of the match.

Overall, Tye creates constant pressure throughout the match and breaks Levi’s guard little by little.

There are some things that Tye does really well and tools you can steal. I’m going to share them with you in the following so you can improve your guard passing skills.​

1. In response to Levi’s initial berimbolo attempt (that’s basically what happens in the first two minutes of the match), Tye keeps circling to his left and follows Levi’s berimbolo motion.​

Berimbolo is a great BJJ technique that allows the guard player to move around the top player’s legs and reach the top player’s back.​

But Tye kills berimbolo by moving with and following Levi.​

2. Once they stop moving, Tye sprawls as you do when you get the S-mount and makes a post with his right hand. This kills the space for Levi to enter—the space Levi needs to make his berimbolo work.

​3. Tye sits on Levi and creates constant pressure whenever he can. This kind of pressure wears out Levi.​

4. Tye uses active posting whenever he needs to. If you want to know more about active posting, watch this breakdown video by BJJ Scout on Leandro Lo’s active posting.

​5. Tye uses various guard passing tools to gain greater control over Levi. See the photos below.​

a. Here, Tye makes a hook, using his foot, and controls Levi’s bottom leg. You could say this is a variation of what’s known as “Turk” in wrestling. Craig Jones & his teammates seem to use it a lot in no-gi, and I expect this kind of leg riding control to be more popular in BJJ.

​b. Tye pins Levi’s hand. By doing this, Tye prevents Levi from grabbing Tye’s leg or creating a stronger frame, even though such action by Levi may not be that threatening, given the position he is in.​

c. Tye is famous for his leg stomping pass. Here, he replaces his hand with his foot as a means to control Levi’s bottom leg before he stands up. It’s very subtle, but I believe this kind of little maneuver makes a huge difference when they add up.

​6. More on the leg stomp — what does he achieve by doing this? By pinning Levi’s bottom leg, Tye kills Levi’s ability to make meaningful guard recovery movements, including shrimping and inversion. And since Tye is using his foot to pin Levi’s bottom leg, Tye gets to be mobile, and it makes things much easier for Tye.​

7. The actual guard passing sequence (watch this excerpt) involves leg stomping, hand & foot switch (as in 5b, but in reverse), and cross grips.​

The way Tye does it is really smooth. He 1) stomps Levi’s bottom leg with his right foot, 2) controls Levi’s far leg with his right hand first, 3) switches it with his left hand, and then 4) replaces his right foot with his right hand. After that, Tye steps over Levi’s head and sprawls into the north-south position.

​Making cross grips is an excellent setup for passing to the north-south position, and it’s very difficult for the bottom player to defend.​

Tye’s pass with cross grips is similar to how Alexssandro Sodré passed João Miyao’s guard a while ago. So, now you know how effective this style of passing can be.

​I hope these insights & tips will help.

​p.s. If I’m not mistaken, Tye is the second guy ever to pass Levi’s guard at a black belt level. The first one was Renato Canuto. If you are curious about how Renato passed Levi’s guard, you can read about it here.