Rodolfo Vieira Guard Passing Study 2: Weaves

What is a Weave?

In a nutshell, a weave is when you “mount” a guarder’s legs when he has been put on his side (either by himself or you). This position is in one sense a “smash”, in that you are still putting all your weight on the guarder, but on the other hand, there are no strong hooks on your legs and technically you can stand up. This “intermediate” position is very important in BJJ when you get to the higher levels as it becomes one of the important “transition” points to turn a smash pass into an agility/standing pass.  In this weave position, you are still close enough to “crossface” and yet you are free to suddenly spring up to toreando or drag.

Rodolfo Vieira Weave Study 1

We will just cover the basic passes/transitions off the weave in this entry.

Weaves complement the Smash Passer

“You know it’s coming, but you can’t stop it” typically characterizes good smash passing. Pressure, leverage and contact is so good that even though it’s all happening in slow motion, there is no way out. Going repeatedly after the smash, breaking someone down systematically may seem boring/unsophisticated but because it is so effective it is a stalwart in BJJ, especially for heavy weights. If you can lock the crossface on, the pass is pretty much a sure thing.

We  know from the last 2 studies that shrimping, turtling and inversion are the counters to crossfacing/crossface side passing. Very often a smasher has no choice but to re-start his smash attempts all over again if the guarder can get his shins + arm frame between the guarder and the passer. This often results in the repetitive cycle of smash/shrimp/smash/shrimp if the smasher has no other tricks up his sleeve. That is basically what happens with Leandro Lo a lot. With no crossface on (because he uses active posting so much), turning in to reguard is a lot easier and Lo has to restart a pass again (which we all know he has no problem doing).

Rodolfo while being an excellent smash passer in itself, employs weaves to counter the predictable “shrimp” response of the guarder. In its essence, shrimping involves digging that top knee in followed by drawing the lower leg in to recompose guard. Many smashers try to dogfight this – pushing back on this top knee or trying to take up all the space so that the knee can’t get in between. Rodolfo though,  welcomes this shrimping motion, using it to get the weave. Rather than a full retreat, by going to the weave Rodolfo can stay in range to smash again and the guarder is prevented from achieving his goal of “re-guarding”, instead being stuck with his legs pinned.

There are many passes off the Weave

There are quite a number of videos/websites demonstrating the passes off the weave so do check those out. This position has many names, including the dope mount, BJ Penn pass, leg weave etc. A pretty nice exposition on the theory behind it can be found in this video by Martin Aedma (btw this guy has some amazing videos):

In general though:

(1) going to mount (if guarder tries to sweep);

(2) windshield wiper to the drag side (if guarder stays turned in);

(3) long stepping to the crossface side (if guarder keeps trying to shrimp)

(4) taking the back (if guarder turtles); and

(5) restarting a pressure pass again (kneeslide etc)

are  all options from the weave.

More importantly though, the guarder gets no break – his reward for attempting to shrimp out of the the original pressure pass is to get stuck in the weave where a whole new set of problems arise, or simply a return back to the original passing pressure. Weaving turns Rodolfo from a crude smash/pressure passer to a “flowing” smash passer. In a sense that he can absorb (vs dogfighting) the strongest defence (the shrimp) and turn it into a new set of offensive options instead of having to restart his passing.

Weaves have been around for ages, why don’t we see more of it?

Weaves go way back, with legends like Terere, Leo Vieira and Fabio Gurgel  employing them (check out this 18 year old video of Fabio using it at the 10 min mark). They have also been used extensively in MMA by BJ Penn. Some other more recent competitors who use them include Andre Galvao, the Mendes brothers and Laercio Fernandes. Curiously, these days weaves are seen more as a light weight player’s move, to complement a drag. As most light weights don’t smash though, this makes Rodolfo one of the few BJJ players across weight classes to use weaves seamlessly with smashing. (*ps: Let me know any other good weavers to watch!)

Check out the video to see how he gets the weave and what he can do from there.


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