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Escape the Half Guard Lockdown

Escape the Half Guard Lockdown


One of the most frustration additions that someone can include in their use of half guard is the lock down.   The lock down was most famously popularized by Eddie Bravo, who as a huge advocate of half guard, sought to make the position even more powerful and dynamic.  From this powerful half guard control position, Bravo developed a number of sweeps and submissions like the "electric chair" that even non-10th Planet Jiu Jitsu practitioners need to be aware of.

What is the lock down?

What in the world is the lock down?  If you're new to it, think standard half guard on steroids.  If you have your opponent in standard half guard and you are controlling their right leg as they are on top of you, the lock down involves bringing your outside leg (left leg) over the opponent's right calf.  You will then place this outside leg's instep behind the heel of your right leg and your right leg's instep against the opponent's trap leg (right leg's) instep.  

This configuration of the legs prevents the opponent from simply kicking out, stepping over or more importantly advancing forward to put pressure on the person on the bottom.  In addition to this leg entanglement, Bravo advocates having double under hooks and being able to initially lock the body of the opponent to your own, to be able to better manipulate their hips and weight with the constant extension and flexion of the lock down.

The lock down position of the legs creates a kind of "chinese handcuffs" for the person trapped.  We want to pass the guard, we want to move forward, smash and grind until we get the majority of our body past the opponent's hips and in a dominant position above the waist.  But that dastardly lock down will keep you stuck.  The more you pull, the tighter and more uncomfortable it can be.  The lock itself can create tremendous pressure on the calf in the vein of a calf slicer and could potentially submit an opponent because it is so painful.

And unlike more standard half guard, the lock down half guard can help free you from one of the most daunting positions, having someone one leg away from passing your guard with all of their body pressure keeping  you flat on the mats and without the ever important knee and arm shields to come to your rescue.

In the video below, 5 time world champion Bernardo Faria (author of Top Game Bundle), himself a half guard master shows an amazingly simple technique for getting yourself free of that pesky lock down.  Check it out below.

 By bringing his lower leg the only direction it can go, curling it towards his butt, Bernardo slips the lock down in a extremely simple manner.  For the skilled lock down player, it is not difficult to trap the leg again if the person trying to escape hesitates and does not immediately take action.  The action Bernardo recommends is to immediately turn the sole of the foot down to the mat, completely changing the position of the foot.  

If you're successful planting the sole of your foot to the mats, you will easily be able to keep your leg out of the danger zone and make it nearly impossible for the opponent to catch the lock down again.

For more on all of the half guard secrets that got Bernardo Faria to the top of the world championships, not once but five times, check out his "Battle Tested Half Guard" instructional series available in both DVD and On Demand formats from BJJ Fanatics here.  Find out why he's recognized as one of the best half guard players in the history of jiu jitsu competition!

You might be interested in The Z-Lock Complete Breakdown by Junny Ocasio

Enjoy reading about escapes? Then consider checking others:


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