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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

03 July 2019

03/07/2019 - Teaching | Half Guard | Maintaining & Guard Recovery

Teaching #885
Artemis BJJ (Easton Road), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 03/07/2019

Short Version:
  • Bring your outside leg to the inside, hooking in tight
  • Curl in towards their knee, prying it out with your elbow
  • Pop your knee through, pushing off their thigh with your shin
  • Wrap their arm and grab your opposite shoulder, put your free leg over their back
  • Shrimp out to free your other leg, recover closed guard

Full Version:
In half guard, your first concern is to stop them flattening you out and starting their pass. They are generally going to want to establish an underhook on their trapped leg side, using the other arm to control under your head. In many ways, it is a similar position to standard side control. That will enable them to crush you to the mat, then exert lots of shoulder pressure to kill your mobility. Many of the same attacks from side control can also be viable from here, like an americana.

Naturally, you don't want them to reach that dominant position. Your goal is to get up on your side, with your own underhook around their back, on your trapped leg side. That is one of the main fights you'll have in half guard, so it is essential that you get used to working for that underhook.

If you can get the underhook, that accomplishes two things. First, it prevents them crushing their chest into yours, which would help them flatten you out. Second, it means you can press into their armpit to help disrupt their base, as well as help you get up onto your side. You can use your knee knocking into their bum at the same time to help with this too, as that should bump them forward.

For your leg positioning, the standard half guard is to have the inside leg wrapped around with your foot on the outside. Your other leg triangles over your ankle. This provides you with what SBG refer to as a 'kickstand': that outside leg is useful for bridging and general leverage. It's harder for them to flatten you out if you can resist with that kickstand structure.

For guard recovery, an inside hook is preferable: step your outside leg over, to hook their leg. Your other leg should not by locking, but squeeze your thighs to maintain control. After you've controlled their leg, got the underhook (though for the guard recovery, an underhook isn't essential) and onto your side, you want to block their arms.

There are numerous options for this, but for guard recovery, I like to use an option I learned from Braulio Estima. I can't remember his name for it, but I call it the facepalm, or the Captain Picard (I LOVE Star Trek ;D). Put simply, slap yourself in the forehead. Keep your hand there, with your elbows in close. You can do this with one arm, or with both: I will often go with both, though it is useful to get an underhook with an arm if you can. With your facepalm shield in place, 'dig' with your elbows to get to their knee.

Pry that knee with your elbow, sliding your same side shin onto their thigh. Square back up. At this point, they will probably be trying to push your knee down to recover their top position. Underhook their arm, just above the elbow, then lock their arm in place by grabbing your opposite shoulder. Your opposite leg goes on their back, then shrimp out until your can free your elbow-prying side leg. Now you can establish closed guard.

You can also try framing to move into sitting guard. Simply sit up, framing with your arm into their collar bone. From there they will often forget to keep their legs tight, meaning you can move right into open guard. If you wanted, you could then recover closed guard.

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If they attempt to duck their head under as you try to frame, adjust your arm to push against their head instead. That should give you enough time to reach a stable position to continue the switch into sitting guard.

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Teaching Notes: Tuck head in, don't leave space by forearm shield for them to swim in cross-facing arm. Also, great turnout for the women's class, 10 women! Yay! I've said it before, but the fact that a third of the Artemis BJJ membership is made up of women makes me very proud. :D

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