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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

12 January 2012

12/01/2012 - Teaching (Attacking Half Guard)

Teaching #036
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 12/01/2012

Continuing with the knee shield, I wanted to start with a simple sweep I learned from Nick Brooks. Having watched the Caio Terra DVD since then, I've been able to pick up a few more details: Terra refers to it as the 'half guard scissor'. Nicks version is from the knee shield with your feet locked, which I personally find more difficult to use (as I always get my knee shoved to the ground), but may work well for those with longer legs, or who are simply better at this position.

As I mentioned last week, the reason you lock your feet is so they can't raise their trapped leg and pivot, bringing their lower leg through the gap between your feet. If you're using the Terra version, you'll still need to drop your drop so that it is across their stomach, as with a scissor sweep from guard. In either position, always aim to prevent them getting a cross-face, as otherwise they will have a very strong position to work from on top. Therefore you need to block that arm, either with one or both hands, using the 'paw' grip.

For Nick's sweep, grip the sleeve of the arm with which they want to cross-face you with your opposite arm (i.e., the arm that would be on top if you were blocking with both hands). Your other hand reaches under their same side leg, grabbing the bottom of their trousers (not inside the cuff though, as that is illegal). Alternatively, Terra grabs the outside of the knee. In both cases, it is to block them posting out with that leg.

Pull their sleeve across your body so they can't post out on their hand. If you're having trouble getting that arm, push them a little first to lighten their arm, then pull it across to the other side. To finish, you want to do a scissor sweep motion, except that instead of chopping their knee with your leg, you're pulling it in with your arm. It also means you have both legs to lift and drive, rather than just one. Make sure you maintain the grips you have with your hands: this is key.

Also, don't get over-excited and try and jump right into side control. Instead, a great tip from Nick was to just roll your hips over, staying low and pressed into them the whole time, hip to hip. As you are still holding their leg, they can't re-lock their half guard. You can simply move your trapped leg backwards to stretch out their leg, then circle it free, moving into side control.

You also still have that grip on the sleeve, which sets you up immediately for an americana. You have a number of options to secure the figure four, depending on how you're holding that sleeve. One way is to control their arm with the other hand to then re-establish a better grip on the wrist with your first hand. Another is to roll your hand forward or backwards to change from the sleeve to the wrist. Or you could try pressing your head into their arm, and use that to hold it in place while you get the proper grips.

There is a handy follow-up if they shift their base to prevent the sweep, which Terra calls the back roll (I can't remember if Nick had a name for it, but 'back roll' is a rational choice). For example, you've gone for the scissor motion, but they have moved their head in the opposite direction your knee shield is pointing. You can no longer get the half guard scissor, but in changing their weight distribution, they have opened up an alternative.

Open up their arm with the sleeve grip, so that they move perpendicular to your body, using your leg grip to help (you may find the knee grip easier for this one, but experiment). This also means you can shift your knee shield so that they are balanced on the shin. If you get it right, they should feel fairly weightless. All you need to do now is roll backwards over your shoulder, still holding on to that sleeve grip. As before, you'll end up in side control with the americana ready to be applied.

Be careful of your head. Lift it a little off the ground and look in the direction their head is pointing. You obviously don't want to roll straight back over your head, or you're liable to hurt yourself. So, make sure it is out of the way and you instead roll over your shoulder, like when you do a basic backwards breakfall during drilling.


  1. Try looking up the "Shaolin sweep".

    That's Shaolin with Kestig.

  2. Ah, so a Shaolin sweep is another name for the back roll. Good to know. I think I prefer back roll, as it's more descriptive, but that will help if I want to check out some YouTube vids or something.

  3. Love Caio's stuff. His seminar was absolutely awesome. Sadly, we didn't get to do any cool half guard sweeps from the dvd because we focused on DLR and Terra guard. Check out the review:

  4. If you have trouble crossing your feet because of short legs try getting the bottom leg deeper and angling the top leg at a 45 degree angle. This moves the top foot closer to the bottom foot and makes them easier tHem easier to cross. Also this angle makes it more dificult for your apponent to stuff your knee down. It may feel as if this position makea your top knee vulnerable to sliding off the side of the hip. But if u leg curl and squeeze the calfa together it wont happen. This helped me out alot in that guard. Love terra's stuff.