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Build A More Dynamic Half Guard with The Master, Lucas Leite

Build A More Dynamic Half Guard with The Master, Lucas Leite


Lucas Leite is surely one of the best half guard players in the game.

He’s created his own system of half guard that he refers to as the “coyote” half guard. Leite has been developing this game for years, and it shows when he competes. Take a look at this highlight video. We know there are countless hours of hard work behind what Leite is doing, but he makes it look so easy.

The technique is just downright beautiful. Leite masterfully employs the half guard in a number of ways to transition, and reverse his opponents. The efficiency of his movements is other worldly, and he’s truly a master of the position.

Here, you see what is commonly referred to as the ‘dogfight” position in BJJ over and again. I’ve always found that one of the most difficult parts of learning the half guard, is the transition to the knees to set up the dogfight. I believe that one of the reasons that we struggle is because we try to force it. The transition can be seamless only if the timing is right. If you’re fighting too hard to get to your knees, you’re probably not paying attention to what else may be available.

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There’s so much more to this dynamic position. The dogfight style sweep is only a small part of the process, and trying to achieve it opens so many more doors. I think that’s part of what’s so enthralling about watching Leite perform. He knows exactly where he’s going, and every time a door closes, he’s ready with the perfect answer.

Let’s look at some instruction from Leite. We will start with the original dogfight sweep, and then branch off from there to see some contingencies and other options from the position. Take a look!

This variation is in the gi, but Leite isn’t utilizing grips all that much. The technique is more about good positioning of the body and beginning with solid half guard structure.

Setting up in half guard with a knee shield, Leite acquires his partner’s far wrist, and secures his top arm with a cupping grip over the triceps. With al of his controls in places, he’s ready to acquire the under hook. He brings his top elbow to the inside of his knee shield, guarding it, and then kicks his leg through replacing the knee shield with a strong under hook. He’s now risen to his elbow, and is still controlling that far side wrist. Leite makes mention her of the benefit to holding this wrist in MMA, but I could also see this being very important in preventing any neck attacks from this particular spot as well.

At this point, if there is no whizzer present, the back is an easy acquisition. But normally your opponent will counter with a whizzer, and this leads us to pursue the sweep.

This particular step is what I find the most unique and effective about Leite’s variation of the sweep. The switching of the hooks. He begins to make a trade. His bottom half guard hook is controlling his partners leg, but during this switch he transfers control to the top leg. This frees his bottom leg, and allows him to remove his bottom leg and get up to his knees. Upon his arrival to his knees, Leite squeezes both of his knees tight around his partners leg, making escape incredibly difficult.

Here’s another unique element that Leite brings to the table.

When I first learned this sweep, it was almost as if once you were here, the rest of the sweep required you to just bulldoze your partner flat to continue the reversal. Leite however, uses a great deal of manipulation of the knee to get what he wants. We will see more of this later. Instead of bullying his partner over, he lifts his partners trapped leg, and turns in a way that puts pressure on the knee, causing his partner to accept collapse or for a lack of a better term, a knee injury.

After the sweep occurs, Leite still continues to apply pressure to the knee of his partner. This makes it impossible for his opponent to turn in to him. He then backsteps and travels behind his partner, creating a scenario where his partner has no choice but to reveal his back.

This manipulation of the knee is ever present in Leite’s half guard system, and it’s something that’s added incredible value to the half guard game of many practitioners.

Let’s now turn to some other options for the position and the reversal. This video is in a no gi format, but there ar many of the same themes present here. Check this out.

We begin here with a slightly different idea. Leite acquires the under hook in a similar fashion, but this time he’s feeling the pressure from the passer, and can’t get his under hook as deep as he would like. It seems as if he is about to transition to the deep half guard, but instead, he returns back down to his back. On his way down he under hooks the far leg, and reaches high with his hands.

Again, we see Leite performing the same switch of the hooks here. He also brings his under hook arm down and hugs his partners hip. Again, if there is no whizzer in place, Leite will simply come up and begin to secure the back. As his partner whizzers he escapes his bottom leg and once more uses his top hook to manipulate the knee and scoot under his partner using incremental movements, until his partner’s weight has been loaded on to his hips and he can complete the reversal.

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Leite makes a connection back to the dogfight sweep position that is very important. As he is trying to complete the first sweep, if his partner were to sprawl, this would give Leite the opportunity to come to his knees and follow through with the dogfight sweep or in this case he chooses to roll under.

These are the types of vital transitional concepts that we need to be well versed in. Leite comes up for the under hook, his partner pressures, he goes underneath, as he attempts to load his partners weight he is met with resistance in the form of a sprawl, so he returns once again to dogfight. Just knowing this sequence could be a game changer in determining your success in reversing from the half guard.

When asked about dealing with a strong base form the dogfight, Leite recommends being patient. Choose your options carefully. Feel what your partner is giving you here. Are they pushing into you? Are they pulling away? There is an answer for each reaction. He reiterates in this video the importance of squeezing his knees tightly together in the dogfight. This keeps his opponent from removing the leg and wrecking the position.

He also demonstrates another super cool transition. By backing up a bit and stepping over his partners back, he can throw his far side hook in, and use it to begin transitioning to side control.

In this video alone there are 5 different variations that you can use to reverse your partner. Pairing all of these ideas together creates a beautiful network of transitions that keep us engaged in the position and hunting for the reversal. If you’re a half guard fan, know your different paths, and become proficient with them. Leite’s first instructional in the gi changes the way I looked at half guard forever, I’m definitely excited to see what no gi material he has in store for us.

Check out more of Lucas Leite's well-renowned half guard game in his "Coyote Half Guard" instructional available in On Demand and DVD formats from BJJ Fanatics.  Get your copy here today!




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