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BJJ Half Guard Wizard Tom DeBlass Shares Some Of His Best Tips
From One Of America's Greatest Grapplers... A Man Who Has Never Had His Guard Passed In Professional Competition
Half guard is easily considered one of the most widely used guards in competitive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu today. You will see more and more high level practitioners using half guard on the mats as one of their most powerful positions. World champions like Lucas Leite, Bernardo Faria, and Tom DeBlass have influenced a generation of world class athletes on the power of having an effective half guard in their game. Besides the fact that many high level jiu jitsu practitioners are using half guard is the fact that anyone can use it regardless of weight, size, and BJJ level.
Tom Deblass is full of tips on how to dominate opponents from the half guard with sweeps and submissions.
But what makes a skilled half guard player a true master? There is so much that goes into playing half guard, whether on top or bottom. On top half guard, you typically look for avenues to pass, being it smashing through the guard or methodically working around into side control. Top half guard is also a great spot to hit submissions. When playing from bottom half guard, how you retain your guard can play a crucial role in your ability to dominate your opponent. There are also a variety of submissions you can hit from here too.
When it comes to half guard, Tom DeBlass is a master. DeBlass is one of the most sought after grappling instructors and athletes in the world. Tom DeBlass is a well respected grappling figure having earned his Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under Ricardo Almeida. Tom DeBlass has had impressive competitive runs in both jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts. DeBlass has also managed to produce high level athletes from a coaching stance, at his Ocean County Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy, including ADCC veteran Garry Tonon and World Masters champion Jen Allen Russell. Some of Tom’s most notable titles are 3X ADCC veteran, Fight To Win Pro Winner, ADCC North American Champion, Black Belt World No GI Masters Champ, and more. Let’s explore some of Tom’s advice when it comes to playing half guard. It does not matter what your level of experience in BJJ is! This advice is great for all enthusiasts.
Game Changing Half Guard Tip
As Tom explains in the video above, a common mistake many grapplers make when playing bottom half guard is to push away from their opponent. However, when you do this is does not allow you to set up any attacks. By welcoming your partner to come forward rather than trying to push him away you give them an opportunity to pass, which you can use to your advantage. Make sure you do not give up the under hook but remember to keep your elbow inside before dropping your knee shield. Once you establish your under hook you can bump your opponent and start moving to a more advantageous position.
Making Your Half Guard Impossible to Pass
If you did not already know, Tom DeBlass has never had his guard passed in a professional match. So it is safe to say that Tom knows a thing or two when it comes to making your half guard impossible to pass. The most common way to get passed from half guard is having your leg pinned to the mat. When your opponent has your leg pinned to the mat they can start passing, usually with a knee slicer. So Tom prefers to focus on his bottom leg rather than his top leg. As soon as his training partner starts controlling that bottom leg, Tom will get his free leg up and over his opponent’s head. This position allows him to start attacking omoplatas and arm bars. Or, if that does not work Tom will roll entirely through rather than hang out in an inverted position. This allows him to start attacking his opponent’s legs, or re-establishing his guard.
Half Guard Drag To Spartan Kick Drill
The truth about mastering half guard is that there is no simple way to do. It takes years of trying things, failing and reassessing your approach to truly understand the position. A big part of a healthy guard is drilling. Drilling is essential to establishing good movement patterns. Tom thinks so highly of drilling that he released an entire series on drilling called “Solo and Partner Grappling Drills for Rapid Movement” available exclusively on BJJFanatics.com. There are two main things to focus on in this drill. The arm drag is the first thing you want to focus on. This part of the drill emphasizes the motion you will use in a live roll to get up to the side of your opponent. Then, focus on getting up to your knees after the Spartan kick. Both of these movements require a good amount of momentum and mobility to do but will greatly help improve your half guard.
Alternate Recovery From Smash Half
If you have ever been smashed while in half guard you might think you are out of options. But this technique by Tom DeBlass improves you do. In the video above, Tom states that your whole body must be in sync in order for this technique to work. Even if you are not over hooking you can still plant and post to start working towards an over hook. When your training partner posts you should frame across his throat and pop your head out. Then you can throw your leg over his back. Now you can reach back and attack legs and toe holds, or get on top. If you do not want to attack legs or get on top, simply reframe. It is important to swing your entire body in order to get up to your side. Once you have the space you can frame with both arms and start recovering.
Weird Kimura From Top Half
When it comes to half guard, Tom’s amazing knowledge is not limited to playing from the bottom. Often times he will end up in top half guard too. As stated earlier, top half guard is great for attacking submissions, like this weird kimura in the video above. As you would expect, this is called a “weird kimura” for a reason. It is not a common technique for someone to do, meaning your opponent will likely not see this coming when it happens, nor will they know how to counter it effectively. It is important to get your timing correct in order to successfully hit this kimura submission. The moment the guy on bottom goes for an under hook all you have to do is collapse it by pressuring down on their arm. From here Tom brings his other arm and hand over. Notice that the kimura opportunity presents itself in this position. Tom finishes the kimura a little differently than what you would expect. He pulls the wrist to the mat and walks the elbow all the way towards the head as far as it can go. Once it does not move any more Tom presses the wrist onto the mat while pulling his opponent’s shoulder up, causing him to tap.
There is just so much that goes into mastering the half guard. These insights Tom shares in all of his instructional videos can help anyone make their half guard impossible to deal with. If you love playing half guard and you liked these techniques then check out Tom’s amazing instructional series called Half Domination for more great tips from one of the most accomplished American grapplers on the planet!