Marcelo Garcia, the man, the myth, the legend.
I’m a huuuuuge Marcelo Garcia fan. His humility, sportsmanship, kindness, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills make him the perfect representative of our art. He is, to me, the greatest BJJ practitioner we’ve ever had. Most people would tend to agree, and although there are plenty of worthy candidates, none of them of accomplished so much with such a large weight disparity, which represents just how special Marcelo’s technique is.
When I was a white belt I found myself naturally getting into Single Leg X-guard (Forever here on out known known as SLX as far as my blog is concerned) and one day asking my instructor what I could do from there. That’s when he showed me the basic SLX sweep and I’ve been bringing people down with it ever since. If my life was on the line and someone said “Dan, you have to hit one sweep to live, what position do you want?” it would be SLX. I cannot recall a time someone was able to stop it once I was in the position. It’s a giant killer, it’s a small guy killer and to me is vastly UNDER UTILIZED. The power of this position comes from the fact that you have THREE limbs isolating ONE limb. It also acts very similar to the Butterfly Position but is much harder for an opponent to retreat from.
I’m going to show you some entries, the basic sweep, some counters to counters and a beautiful situp variation all with GIFs of Marcelo Garcia in Action (pun intended).
Let’s do this.
Here’s Marcelo slapping the SLX on. Any time you have one leg behind your opponent between his legs, and the other leg in a butterfly leg position between his legs you are able to get to this position. The HEEL of your foot goes on the hip, being careful to not reap. Generally you also need to control the opposite side arm to stop them from bumping your knee down and sliding into mount. Getting into SLX is even easier to enter against a standing opponent just by butt scooting forward. There are two main grips he uses on the leg, the overhook and the underhook. Marcelo teaches the overhook as his preferred position but after analyzing his video it seemed the underhook was a little more versatile. Generally speaking, an easy way to get into SLX is via sitting in the butterfly position, scooting in and flairing one foot up, to bring your opponents leg up, then you kick your leg behind and over. If you’re reading this though breakdown though, I recommend you already have a good understand of the entries.
In this GIF, Marcelo gets the underhook on the leg, it’s his preferred arm position for doing the situp sweep as it makes it even easier, but it’s not necessary.
Notice the clench with his arm below. If Marcelo doesn’t get the underhook immediately he will clench their leg to his body using the inside of his arm and try to re-position from there.
The Basic SLX Sweep:
Here’s the basic sweep. Not only does he have the strong underhook, but both knees are clenching his opponents leg. Notice how Marcelo comes up with the sweep. There’s a drill people sometimes do at the beginning of class where they do standups like that. Marcelo does it ALL THE TIME. If his opponent falls, Marcelo is going to come up using the momentum. (I cannot for the life of me think of the name of this standup drill, someone help!)
Sometimes Marcelo’s opponents will lean over the top of Marcelo to prevent him from pushing them backwards, that’s no problem for Marcelo. He’ll just take them over the top.
Marcelo’s SLX Situp Sweep:
It was watching this video below that made me realize something about Marcelo’s situp sweeps. They use the exact same principle as his butterfly sweeps, block the arm post, and raise the opposite side leg while turning the corner as some would say. This is the only video I could find of Marcelo doing this sweep with an overhook on the leg, but he does it no problem.
You’ll see below that sometimes his opponents will squat very low to try and stop the basic SLX sweep. This actually makes it even easier for Marcelo to do the Situp sweep because his opponents can’t get their foot out from under themselves and up quick enough to post on. So when he turns the corner his opponents knee acts as the rotating point and he doesn’t even have to stand up all the way.
Same thing, but his opponent is already committed way too far to the side Marcelo wants to take him. Notice how Marcelo extends his butterfly hook even though it’s not on the leg he’s raising. He does this to push his opponents hips away from his opponents leg post. It is typically the only post his opponent will have and once his hips are on the opposite side of the post, gravity does the rest.
Same thing, different angle. Marcelo’s preferred grip is right above the knee on the thigh, but he likes to keep his bicep under the calf so his opponent can’t put their foot down. It works on all sizes.
His opponent tries to counter by bringing his free hand across to take the place of his missing arm post that Marcelo has taken from him, it only prolongs the inevitable. Notice how when Marcelo comes up he stiffens his left leg out on the ground? This gives him a nice post to drive from and stops his opponent from driving back into Marcelo when he begins his rotation.
This sweep was actually a few minutes in the making. Which made me feel as if Marcelo is one extremely patient man. Cobrinha is basing out hard to the sweeping side, keeping his hand away and rotating his leg inward to prevent the basic SLX sweep and SLX situp sweep. It seemed to me in watching the video that Marcelo was waiting for that one simple shift in Cobrinha’s hips that opened up a weak plain to Cobrinha’s back. Cobrinha intelligently pulls guard conceding the sweep. Pushing the SLX foot off is one of the counters, but since you have to reach back and twist your body to do it, it exposes you. Making sure to straighten your back ALSO stops their leg from being able to come over your head. So back straight and head up!
- Marcelo doesn’t always have the far arm control, sometimes he starts these sweeps when his opponent actually has HIS sleeve. Right when he starts the sweep or in mid-sweep Marcelo will counter grip just in case his opponent let’s go.
- Passing on your knees while in SLX exposes you to the Situp variant, the Basic sweep is possible, but not as likely.
- Passing while standing exposes you to the Basic SLX sweep, the Situp variant is possible with a far side sleeve grip and underhook on the leg.
- Marcelo executes beautiful posture when coming up for the Situp sweep.
- For the Situp sweep Marcelo ALWAYS extends his Butterfly hook but doesn’t kick it straight up, he kicks it to the side or a 45 degree angle to force his opponents hips over their posting leg.
- Your butterfly hook, heel on the hip and control of the far side arm are the three main factors stopping your opponent from coming to mount. Do not let them bump your knee between their legs, keep it angled upwards.
- Beware of an opponent trying to force you to reap their knee, if they are reaching and trying to do so, they will expose the Situp sweep or Situp sweep to the back, so just kick your leg off and go for it.
Leg gripping options (Underhook is preferred variant for all sweeps):
- Underhook NOGI: Hand on the thigh right above the knee, bicep on the calf
- Underhook GI: Same as NOGI or you can grip the pants right above the knee instead of just palming it
- Overhook NOGI: Grip as if doing an ankle lock, but slightly higher up
- Overhook Gi: Same as NOGI or you can grip your collar for extra tightness
Arm gripping options:
- GI: Any far side arm sleeve grip
- NOGI: Behind the far side arm elbow grip
Marcelo Garcia has been a huge source of inspiration for me and many BJJ practitioners, I hope my breakdown and analysis did him even a small amount of justice. I definitely recommend subscribing to his MG in Action website! I also have to give a huge shout out to BJJ Scout who I’ve talked to constantly about breakdowns and he gave me the vote of confidence and inspiration I needed to start what I’m currently doing. Feel free to comment and discuss the article below!