DVD review: Rafael Lovato's Pressure Passing System

I have not wanted to watch a lot of instructionals for a long time as I feel that watching information that sometimes contradicts between different sets is often counterproductive. I currently watch a little Ryan Hall's set on back attacks and Mendes online for some of my guard attacks (arm bar and reverse DLR mostly).

Otherwise I only use what I've collected so far to my own word document throughout the years and dig deeper to those techniques and concepts. Of course some of these techniques were learnt in classes and seminars (my DLR game and fireman's carry takedown for example) and some were learnt from dvds (nearly all my side control techniques: general position from Osiander, NS choke from Marcelo and the triangle from side control from Jeff Glover) and the word document puts it all together so I don't forget anything important.

Despite being reluctant to look into any dvds, I had to look into Lovato's pressure passing because it is basically exactly the game I play now. It took me a few years to gather the bits and pieces for this and suddenly someone has done exactly the same, only at a higher level. Even the way he opens closed guard is exactly the same as the way I do it.
All the passes in the set (disc 1) are set up from the "Headquarters position" which I basically call the "Combat position". The main idea with this position is to put your opponent in a sort of a "killed" de la riva guard, meaning his DLR hook is loose and the pushing leg is trapped between your legs while you are squatting on it. There are slight differences between what I have been doing and the "headquarter" such as I am used to being more upright and have the grip on the collar a bit lower, but they are basically the same position

This position is fairly safe and allows you set up at least an x-pass (if you're opponent is not crossing the ankles) or go for a cross pass (knee-cutter) or do a folding pass (Lovato calls it side smash) depending on which side your opponent is letting you pressure him to. Lovato also uses the long step pass (he calls it butt flop) from this position, which I don't. So, in my opinion there are 4 core passes from the "Combat" or "Headquarters" position. The DVD covers more, but I think they require for you to either create distance or release the trapped leg on which you are squatting on.

The "headquarters" position

The 4 basic passes from the position in my opinion are

Cross pass

Folding pass (side smash), I stay lower on the legs than Lovato though

Long step pass (butt flop)

Despite these being the core concepts and passes behind the pressure passing system, the set provides a lot of related material such as opening a closed guard, forcing half guard, troubleshooting the leg lasso in different positions etc. I've found the majority of the material to be very applicable.

The set revolves mostly around the headquarters and troubleshooting it and the passes themselves, but some of the techniques are combinations of the passes that flow together nicely. On the other hand, there is not a lot of material on what to do when an opponent tries to recompose guard etc. shrimps and turns into or away from right after a certain pass attempt such as an x-pass attempt. Don't get me wrong, there is some counters to counters but from my experience, this is often the difference between success and failure with some of these passes. Especially latching on to your opponent's back if he tries to turn away and turtle roll to guard or spinning behind him when he turns into you for a single. Good sources for this info are perhaps Ryan Hall's back attacks and Pablo Popovitch's no gi guard passing set.

The headquarters position, in my opinion, can not directly be applied to nogi grappling because there is no collar to grab or a pant leg to hold. Apparently there will be a similar nogi set by Lovato published soon, which should be interesting. I have done my share of research on this and use a position where the blade of my arm controlling the pushing leg is on the back of my opponent's knee with the leg still between my legs (sometimes due to lack of control, I have to put one or two knees on the ground also) and the hand that is usually holding the collar is on my opponent's hip.

All and all, the set would be ideal for a fresh blue belt because it gives a game which consists mostly of solid basic passes wound together. It also gives you one specific position "the headquarters" where you can go back to all the time and hone your posture in it. Even Rafa Mendes says he prefers positions where he has multiple attacks without moving his grips around too much, and "headquarters" fits that description nicely.

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