BJ Penn – Dope Mount


BJ Penn is mainly known as a guard player in the Jiu Jitsu world. He was heralded for his seemingly impassable guard from early in his Jiu Jitsu training, and as a black belt won the 2000 Mundials primarily using his vaunted guard. Penn has even released a book on the subject. But as he has shown in many of his Jiu Jitsu and MMA matches, BJ Penn’s guard passing is equally developed and highly creative. One of his most famous passes is the dope mount.

There are some nomenclatural difficulties with the term dope mount. It’s a guard pass and it starts from half guard, although it does end in the mounted position. It helps to think of mount in this case as a verb, not a noun as it is commonly used. It’s just a dope way of mounting, as it were.

I first learned this move from my first real Jiu Jitsu coach, Adam Zugec at ZUMA MMA in Victoria, BC. It was the first time I had rolled with a black belt and one of the many things that I took away from the experience was this pass. I didn’t really understand it at the time, and I’m still working on the intricacies, but it is a powerful and graceful method of getting directly from your opponent’s guard to the mount.


BJ Penn guard passing in MMA compilation. 


To get used to the hip movement involved in this pass it’s a good idea to watch the video above of BJ Penn passing his opponent’s guards in MMA. But don’t think that this pass is strictly for the cage – many jiu jitsu players have had success with this pass in gi Jiu Jitsu and submission grappling as well.

Several high-level Jiu Jitsu instructors have taken an interest in this pass and have documented their technical breakdown. We’ll start with “New Zealand” John Danaher, an instructor at Renzo Gracie’s NYC academy and one of the more unique figures in Jiu Jitsu. Danaher was the assistant coach for Georges St. Pierre during the latter’s stint on the Ultimate Fighter television show. Danaher several important points about how to achieve maximum pressure through the use of the underhooks and cross-face.


John Danaher – BJ Penn’s half guard pass to mount.


Additionally, Kobra Kai black-belt Sim Go has released a video describing how to use the pass against the butterfly guard. This video is in response to Go’s team mate Ulysses Gomes using it in a recent MMA fight. Go also emphasizes the importance of the underhook. He uses two underhooks in this video in contrast to Danaher who switches from the underhook to the crossface as he switches sides once the knees are pinned together.


Sim Go – Dope mount from open guard. 


In this video you can clearly see that the dope mount is the opposite version of the leg drag pass. Where the leg drag results in your opponent’s knees smashed together with you passing behind, the dope mount smashes your opponent’s knees together in the same style allowing you to slide directly to mount. The beauty of this is that it works both ways – the dope mount is also a blue-print for passing to mount from the leg drag pass, and the once in the leg drag you can use the dope mount to pass to the mount. In fact, Rafael Lovato Jr. showed a variation of the leg drag pass that resulted in mount in his seminar at Dynamic MMA using the same mechanics.

Jeff Joslin, an Alliance black belt from Hamilton, Ontario has also released a number of videos about BJ Penn’s guard passing. In the first video Joslin uses an underhook and a shallow overhook for control. Clearly there are multiple methods of exerting pressure on your opponent. The most correct method will depend on comfort with each and your opponent’s reaction to the technique. In the second video Jeff gives a nice detail with his hip pressure that helps you pin your opponent’s knees together.

Joslin also emphasizes the use of spinal dis-alignment to create pressure when passing the guard. This is the rationale behind the crossface as it applies to passing and is something that one of my coaches at Dynamic, Matt, is really big on. When the head is forced to look away as the hips are pressured to the other side is makes movement almost impossible for the bottom player and makes power generation much more  difficult. The first two of Jeff’s videos are below. The other three can be watched on his YouTube page and are variations that are worth checking out.


Jeff Joslin – BJ Penn guard passing #1


Jeff Joslin – BJ Penn guard passing #2


Some people roll their eyes at the use of the word dope as an adjective. Some get confused at the use of the word mount as a verb. Regardless of linguistic difficulties practicing the dope mount will provide you with a simple yet powerful framework for achieving one of the most dominant positions in Jiu Jitsu.

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Filed under Jiu Jitsu Technique

9 responses to “BJ Penn – Dope Mount

  1. cedric

    Hey Dave
    This pass to mount is awesome. I saw it a long while back but actually started to use it more when Shane did it to me during on of our rolling sessions. Sometimes I don’t get the far side underhook so I end up doing a variation to side control instead. But everytime I get this technique on someone it’s a dope feeling. Good post man, keep it up!!!

    • Thanks Cedric! I started to get interested in this passing style again when I was training in Toronto recently. I`ve been using the leg drag pass a lot and it sort of fit right into that whole style. Looking forward to training with you again, my friend.

  2. Emilo

    wont let me see the john danaher one :(

  3. Franz

    Yeah i cant see the John Danaher one either! from the Philippines here! :)

  4. Ras


    The Danaher video is not working for me either. I am trying to watch it from Denmark…

    I would love to see Danaher explain this, as I have hear that he is an awesome instructor!

  5. Thanks for letting me know about the Danaher video everyone. I think I can re-host it so you can watch it.

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