Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 07/08/2015
Another approach to half guard is the one touted in Eddie Bravo's Mastering the Rubber Guard. I tend to warn beginners off Bravo's 10th Planet system, because they often get over-excited and try to run before they can walk. Having said that, it is worth taking a look at the half guard techniques Bravo includes at the start of Mastering the Rubber Guard. This is based around what Bravo calls the 'lockdown', which as far as I'm aware is an old judo position (then again, old judoka would likely tell you that's true of everything in BJJ ;p). The two major problems with the lockdown are that it is often used to stall and it immobilises your hips.
However, it can be useful for disrupting an opponent's base. It also works as a last ditch effort to stop them crushing you when they've got you flat on your back. It is a little different to the standard half guard leg position. I tend to move into it from the guard recovery leg position. Step your outside leg over theirs. Next, bring your inside leg over your other foot (which will then hook around that inside leg), hooking underneath their shin. From there, you can stretch out their leg.
Bravo lays out a careful roadmap of where to go from the lockdown, detailing another method for getting up onto your side. He calls the first part the 'Jaws of Life', which is basically getting both your hands in front of their face, bracing them against the side of their head, near the temple. The idea is to create enough space to slide your arms past theirs, then establish a double underhook around their back. You can then do what Bravo calls a 'whip up'. Release your double underhook and switch to pressing your hands into their ribs. In one motion, bring your knees towards your chest and push with your hands. In the space that creates, immediately shift to your side and establish your underhook.
From here, you can do the toe grab sweep largely as before. Again, reach under their same side leg with your non-underhooking side hand, in order to grab their toes. The main difference with this version is that you keep your underhook in place all the way through, rather than switching your grip. Release your lockdown, bending their leg outwards with your top leg, so you can slide the bottom leg underneath. Drive through with your shoulder, pulling on their toes to break their balance. Swing your leg over theirs as you come on top, then establish side control.
Teaching & Sparring Notes: People were more confused by the lockdown leg positioning than I expected, so I spent quite a bit of time helping people out during drilling (I did also include the John Will style review right after demonstrating too, as well as at the end of class). So, it might be worth introducing the lockdown first, then adding in the sweep later? Something to think about.
Jim mentioned a good point on walking the hand up on the side control to mount drill, so I'll add that in. It's only a drill, but that small detail is handy to know for when I get to teaching the full technique. I sometimes forget, as I don't normally use the knee to armpit variation, I prefer going from reverse scarf hold.
In sparring, I again wanted to try out those half guard gi chokes I saw on The Grapplers Guide. I got the position with one person but wasn't able to get it locked in tight enough, though it did make the pass easier. I also got rolled twice due to over-focusing on the choke rather than my balance (then again, it did at least take them a while to roll me). As I practice this more, I'll work out the best position to do it.
I guess flatten them out first, then work to get the lapel out and lock it in? They do need to be on their side to get the choke, but in the set-up flattening them out makes sense. Got a bunch of reps in during open mat, useful stuff.