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Fine Tune Your Half Guard With These Details From The Incomparable Travis Stevens!
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Fine Tune Your Half Guard With These Details From The Incomparable Travis Stevens!

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Passing Half Guard by Travis Stevens

Who is Travis Stevens? He made history by being the third male judoka from the USA to win a silver medal at the Olympic Games.  Travis also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under the legendary John Danaher and Renzo Gracie. It is an understatement to say that he is accomplished in both Judo and Jiu Jitsu.

Travis was born February 28, 1986 and is a lifelong grappler. He began training Judo at the age of 6.  He competed in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics in the men's half-middleweight (-81 kg) division. On August 9, 2016, Stevens made history by being the third American male judoka to win a silver medal in the Olympics. His other grappling accomplishments include the following: 2nd place at the 2016: Grand Prix Havana. 3rd place at the 2015: Pan American Senior Championships , 1st place at the 2015: Pan American Games Toronto, 3rd place at the 2015: Pan American Senior Championships, 7th place at the 2015: Grand Prix Dusseldorf, 2nd place at the 2014: Grand Prix Zagreb, 1rst place at the Pan American Open Miami, 5th place at the  Grand Slam Tyumen, 2nd place at the  Grand Prix Havana,  3rd place at the Pan American Championships Guayaquil, 2nd place at the  Grand Prix Tbilisi, 1rst place at the Grand Prix Dusseldorf,  5th place at the 2013: Grand Slam Tokyo, 7th place at the  Grand Prix Abu Dhabi, 1rst place at the Grand Prix Tashkent, 3rd place at the Pan American Championships San Jose , 1rst place at the Pan American Open Montevideo, 2nd place in Grand Slam Rio de Janeiro ,3rd place in  Grand Prix Abu Dhabi, 1rst place in World Cup Tashkent, 2nd place in  Grand Slam Moscow , 2nd place in Pan American Championships Guadalajara, 1rst place Grand Prix Dusseldorf,5th place in World Cup Budapest and 5th place in Masters Baku.

Travis Stevens has simple concepts that he applies to his throws, takedowns and guard passing. His approach is simple, and makes him one of the best grapplers ever.

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Stevens is an excellent teacher. On January 12, 2013 he opened FUJI Gym in Wakefield, Massachusetts.  He spends the majority of his time teaching there. He also teaches at Renzo Gracie Fort Lee in New Jersey. When he is not teaching, he regularly trains at Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City. Another testament to his ability as an instructor is the fact that his instructional videos for BJJ Fanatics are hugely successful.

In this video Travis Stevens explores some key concepts to passing half guard.  The first thing that Stevens discusses is shortening the under hook. Often times in half guard there is a great battle for the under hook. If that battle is lost then the damage can be mitigated by shorting the under hook. To shorten the under hook Travis talks about two key details. First, he turns his elbow in toward his opponent.  Second, he also shortens the under hook by ensuring his opponent has a shallow under hook.  Notice how Steven’s training partner has only the very top of his hand under Travis’ arm.  A second key concept in regards to the half guard is the battle over the bottom side leg.  If the bottom side leg is not controlled then the bottom player can set up sweeps and submissions. To control the bottom side knee Travis advocates turning the corner and having his knee against his opponent’s hip.  A third important detail Stevens discuss is on the bottom side hand. Often times in discussing half guard the focus is on the under hook and the bottom side hand is overlooked. Stevens advocates wrist control.  However, it is imperative in the wrist control to have your thumb on the top side.  Travis goes into great details saying that if the grip is reversed then we are susceptible to Kimura attacks.  A fourth key detail once we have turned the corner to our opponent’s hip is to post the under hook arm onto the mat. He states that it is imperative that we do not allow our opponent to roll to their back. 

This video is a wonderful example of Travis’s ability to communicate technique to even novice grapplers.  Like all of Stevens’ instructional videos, there is a lot of detail. I know that I often gain new insights every time I re-watch one of his videos. Travis Stevens’ instructional videos have a powerful impact on anyone who makes a careful study of them. Certainly, the Jiu Jitsu community is lucky to have him.

Travis Stevens is a John Danaher black belt and Olympic medalist in judo with the ability to break complex techniques down into simple, clear instruction. His new series Magic Guard Passing is going to shave years of frustration off  and add some magic to your passing game.  You can get it here at BJJ Fanatics!

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