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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

10 January 2013

10/01/2013 - Teaching (Opposite Side Half Guard Pass)

Teaching #086
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 10/01/2013

Today I wanted to take a look at a pass Ed Beneville and Tim Cartmell refer to as 'inverted half guard' in their excellent book, which I first learned from Roger Gracie a few years ago. In Jiu Jitsu University, Saulo uses the term 'opposite side pass', which is more clunky but also easier to understand. 'Inverted' is mainly associated with being upside down in BJJ, so I'll stick with Saulo's nomenclature.

The orthodox method to pass the half guard is to get a similar 'super-hold' (as Xande calls it) as you would in side control, then use shoulder pressure to hold them in place as you bounce your leg free and slide through. That's what I taught last week. With the opposite side pass, you're also trying to control their upper body. In Saulo's version of the pass, on p307 of his book, they already have an underhook. He therefore grips over the top of that underhooking arm, securing it by gripping the gi material by the small of their back. Posting on his free hand, he then swings his free leg over, ending up sat next to them. He suggests grabbing their knee initially, then shifting to grabbing the far hip.

I would prefer to grab the knee and maintain that grip, to prevent a counter they can try where they open their half guard then hook under your knee, lifting and driving through to the top position. Either way, once you're over, you need to keep control of their upper body, or they will be able to simply turn towards you and take the top position.

To prevent that, control them with your grip on the back, as well as maintaining pressure with your head and chest on their upper body. You then want to work your leg free, which may be easier said than done. The simplest approach is to push on their bottom leg with your free foot, extricating yourself from half guard and taking top side control. You can also try pulling their leg towards you in order to help create the space to free yourself.

After drilling that and then doing some progressive resistance, I added in some more details, mainly regarding grips. Option one is to reach under their head with the arm on the same side as your trapped leg: that may feel counter-intuitive, as normally that is the arm you would use to underhook, but this is because you're swinging over to the other side.

Option two, still with that trapped-side arm, is to grab their opposite shoulder. This is a nastier option, as that means when you swing over to the trapped-leg side, your forearm will drive into their throat (and is why I wouldn't recommend it, as it is relying more on pain compliance than leverage). If they have a gi, you can also try grabbing their opposite collar, but that may firstly limit the amount of arm across their throat and secondly be overly loose, unless you make sure to take the slack out of their collar first.

Option three comes from the Beneville book: if you can get this one, it's probably the tightest option. Before you swing over, open up their lapel on the free leg side. Pass the end of their gi to the hand you have under their head and feed it through. Push their head slightly towards the trapped leg side, then shove your head in the space you’ve created. You can use your head for base, along with your free hand if required.

After you've swung over, watch out for a counter they may try, which is to lift up your leg with their far foot, flipping you over. To re-counter that, immediately switch from holding the knee to hooking behind their knee with your arm. That should stop them lifting for the sweep. Alternatively, you can also do a big step over to the other side as they try to flip you to your back.

Teaching Notes: I was trying to think of a 'simple' version to start off, deciding to teach Saulo's version first. I'm not sure if that was in fact the most straightforward, but the students seemed to understand it ok: hopefully I'll be able to get some feedback to hear their thoughts on it. I'm not really that keen on the grip over the underhook, but it's a viable option, particularly if you've already been put in a bad position due to their underhook. You have the option of a whizzer to control them too, or maybe even a brabo choke.

Like last week I wanted to continue switching people after each round, rather than waiting two rounds. Also like last week, that meant I had to be careful that everybody had a chance to work both top and bottom. I decided to put people in four corners then have them shift around to the right. However, that swiftly got confusing: it just about meant everybody had a chance to work with everybody else, but there must be a better system. Next time, I'll try counting off in pairs, then have the number 2s stay where they are while the number 1s move around after each round. Hopefully that will work better.

Again, I did a review at the end. I split it into two, running through the technique once with Saulo's version, then the three grip variations. I thought it was better to go through the technique once and then show the grip variations in isolation. I could have shown the four grip variations then complete the technique, but I decided that would be more confusing. I could be wrong: as ever, let me know your feedback, especially if you were in the class. :D

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