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DeBlass Dominates With Half Guard to Set Up Outside Heel Hook
Perennial jiu jitsu competition fan favorite and social media powerhouse,Tom DeBlass executed a flawless performance at Fight To Win Pro 72 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently. His use of half guard to set up a devastating outside heel hook was a virtual clinic.
He took on Pittsburgh's own Lou Armezzani in the main event. DeBlass a multiple time world champion, ADCC and UFC veteran did not take his opponent lightly despite the obvious disparity in competitive resumes. Each fighter brought their best to the stages of Fight to Win in the Steel City.
The evening had already seen a number of DeBlass students from his home academy, Ocean County Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in New Jersey and his first affiliate academy, Leverage Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Ohio each winning in dramatic fashion via heel hook. Purple belt David Gonzalez from OCBJJ finished his opponent via heel hook, as did purple belt Michael Haskett of Leverage BJJ, and DeBlass black belts, Tom Scala and Rob Hileman of Leverage BJJ also wrecked havoc on their opponent's legs via heel hook. It should also be mentioned that Team Renzo Gracie, which Tom DeBlass has long been a competitive standout for was also well represented by Warren Stout's Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh.
These submission victories seemed to foreshadow DeBlass' match. Each by heel hook. As a long time fighter in the heaviest weights, DeBlass has often found himself in slow paced matches filled with a lot of control and not as much action. Recently in interviews, DeBlass, who has been working to add new tricks to his game training more and more frequently with John Danaher, has said that he is looking to voraciously attack for the submission. The spectators in house at the arena and at home watching would soon find out how this revitalized game plan for fare for DeBlass.
After a dramatic entrance by both competitors, the match was underway and just as quicky finished as DeBlass sat down to engage Armezzani with a powerful arm drag that allowed him to enter into his go to position, half guard. Let's take a look at a few key moments from the match.
Here DeBlass goes for a powerful arm drag. His intention is not necessarily to pull Armezzani into him, but to instead create a reaction where Lou essentially backs up creating space for DeBlass to enter into half guard, which will be the first step in securing his lightning fast submission victory. The beauty of this arm drag is that it ensures that the opponent is never comfortable. Whether they react by pulling back or get pulled to us, the arm drag ensures that you are on the offensive which is a fundamental of Tom DeBlass' jiu jitsu philosophy.
Once DeBlass is able to secure half guard, Armezzani must act quickly as Tom could use the position to reverse or submit. Half Domination is the name of Tom DeBlass' half guard instructional from BJJ Fanatics for a reason. Lou must work to collapse on Tom's half guard to control the head and keep his base, otherwise he may find himself swept. The danger though of coming tight to the bottom half guard expert is that in many cases, this more effectively connects your body to the opponent's allowing weight to be more easily moved and swept.
And it turns out this is exactly what happens. As Armezzani stays heavy and tight on DeBlass to attempt to prevent the sweep or reversal, you can already see in the image above that DeBlass is reaching for the outside leg. This will ultimately make it easier for DeBlass to get underneath the hips of Armezzani and set up the reversal. For half guard sweeps in particular, the bottom player must be willing to pull the opponent to them, which may seem counter to what we should want, but it truly does allow the sweep to be more effective.
Now as DeBlass turns his hips and dives under with his arm, the sweep and necessary elevation of Armezzani is achieved. Lou must scramble to turn himself back into DeBlass to stay square to prevent his lower body from being attacked.
DeBlass is able to fend off Armezzani's scrambles and adjust his hips beginning to set up the early stages of ashi garami.
To maintain control of Armezzani's knee line, DeBlass initially utilizes a achilles lock style grip controlling the leg while he is able to get to his right hip and secure ashi garami.
Once ashi garami is achieved, DeBlass begins to dig for the outside heel. With the toes of Armezzani safely tucked into his arm pit, he uses his hips and the rotation of his torso to expose the heel.
In the end the combination of perfect ashi garami and flawless control of the foot and heel with his patented palm on palm finishing grip, DeBlass is able to end the match via outside heel hook in less than 30 seconds.
In the video below, excerpted from his best selling Half Domination series, DeBlass shows exactly how he is able to sweep the heavy opponent over and away which elevates the hips and creates the space by which Tom can set up leg attacks much like he utilized in this recent Fight to Win Pro victory in Pittsburgh PA.
Besides having a stand out performance and record setting submission victory, Tom DeBlass' most recent competition and training in preparation for this match and all future matches can teach us a variety of lessons. First off, he reminds us that we are never truly done learning. As someone who has competed on the highest stages of the world and who has been a black belt for nearly a decade, one might think that DeBlass is done learning.
At an age when many competitors are beginning to wind down, DeBlass seems bent on adding new wrinkles to his game and reinventing himself yet again. He has already reinvented his combat persona several times through stints in grappling, MMA and now having returned to grappling permanently.
Any time that he is not teaching and working with his ever-growing academy, DeBlass finds himself staying uncomfortable training with the likes of Gordon Ryan and others under the watchful eye and rashguard of John Danaher. It is only through training and challenging himself to stay outside of his comfort zone that he is able to continue to grow and develop his own game.
Take advantage of all of the secrets of Tom's own half guard game with his Half Domination 4 volume series. His lessons are easy to digest and easy to apply. They will have you dominating from top and bottom half in no time. It probably won't be as fast as DeBlass' victory, but you'll never know until you try.