Hailing from Australia and representing Unity Jiu Jitsu…
Levi Jones-Leary has impeccable guard skills.
As far as I checked, no one has managed to pass Jones-Leary’s guard at a black belt competition level except Renato Canuto (edit: Tye Ruotolo passed Levi’s guard at Worlds 2022). Lucas Lepri couldn’t beat Jones-Leary’s defense either.
In this post, let’s take a quick look at how Renato managed to pass Levi’s guard.
We’ll start from around the 8:40 mark of this video.
The context is this:
Levi tries to go for a Choi bar/sweep threat, but Renato blocks Levi’s attempt, possibly looking to wait until the regulation time runs out and win by 2 advantages.
In this exchange, Renato notices Levi’s lapel is free to grab. He catches it and feeds it to his left arm. The lapel grip helps Renato defend his arm and gives him an opportunity to pass Levi’s guard.
Renato’s pass relies on pinning Levi’s left leg to the ground.
He grabs Levi’s pant cuff with a pistol grip and extends Levi’s leg. This allows Renato to detach the bottom of Levi’s foot from the mat — Levi needs this foot-to-mat connection to shrimp, and now he can’t.
You should keep this very useful maneuver in your guard passing toolbox. In no-gi, you can get a similar effect by controlling your opponent’s ankle area using the C-grip.
Another crucial point here is Renato’s lapel grip. Thanks to this grip, Renato can ensure there’s as little space as possible between his upper body and Levi while Renato is bringing his head above Levi’s hip line (or from the back of Levi’s thigh to the top of Levi’s thigh).
Then Renato drives forward to flatten Levi. It’s extremely difficult for Levi to pummel his leg in and recover the guard from where he is. Renato secures the side control and completes his pass.
By the way, realistically, Renato cannot pass Levi’s guard without crossing Levi’s hip line.
Renato tries a similar pass earlier in the match (around the 2:36 mark), but this one is not tight enough and leaves enough space for Levi’s leg to come into.
If you feel like trying this exact pass of Renato, that would be great. Even if that’s not the case, one thing you can take away from this post is the concept of pinning your opponent’s bottom leg down. Try it and see how it works for you.