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Is Your Guard Half Full Or Empty?
I hope you have been taking advantage of the “Go Further Faster” series that is available in the BJJ Fanatics store. Using the different releases you will get the advice and guidance of John Danaher to help you address your approach and follow through in different Jiu Jitsu techniques; which is bound to improve your mindset as well as your movement.
The latest of the series goes over Half Guard, a position everyone is faced with regularly on the mat. This position is especially helpful for those that want to create a full body contact with their opponent that allows them to depend less on strength and speed and more so on conceptual and spatial awareness. Perhaps you are a new grappler, a smaller opponent, or someone that has been in the game for a long time and your body is begging you to use more brain and less brawn- half guard is for all of you!
Half guard can be a very frustrating position if you are trying to force your way out of it, but if you have the body awareness and conceptual knowledge then you can use the smallest of movements to give you the advantage. Seeing the big picture when you are stuck in bottom half guard is essential to getting out of it! John will instruct you on how to use your preferred systems, whether that is top half guard, bottom half guard, overhook escapes or underhook escapes. Due to the large area of contact in this position, you will be able to use your opponent's body weight to their disadvantage rather than allow them to put that same amount of weight into pressuring you into a pinned position.
Some grapplers prefer to be in top half guard, claiming they have more control of the bottom players hips when compared to side control; others would rather place themselves in bottom half guard instead of bottom full guard to give their own hips more mobility. The body placement in this position is halfway to a sweep, or halfway to a back take (depending on which side you are on) so the opportunities available to you are much more vast than most other systems. Once you learn the different and minute movements to transition into other positions you will be amazed at what you are able to negotiate!
The angle and alignment of your body against your opponent’s is a key factor in improving your half guard success rate. In order to keep a strong, controlling pressure from top half guard then approaching the person on bottom from a perpendicular angle is ideal. The control you have over the top part of their body will make it extremely difficult for them to buck you off or roll out from under your weight. Therefore, when you are attempting to achieve a stable position then it is always more beneficial to find a perpendicular position rather than a parallel one that has your spine going the same direction as your opponent’s.
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In half guard, you are able to use the fact that you are relatively in line with your partner’s body, making it easier to use destabilization and off balancing techniques to sweep from the bottom. Using these smartly, with correct motion and fulcrum points, you can succeed without wasting much energy or strength. What is the first thing that gives you the advantage in bottom half guard? Awareness! Know where your body is, as well as where your opponent’s is on top of you, then use that energy to your own success.
So now that we have the basis of how half guard can be a helpful position, how do you develop the techniques to use it correctly? As we discussed, the most important aspect of half guard is who has control of the bottom players head and shoulders; that will determine which person is in a dominant position (top or bottom half). Being able to move your body from one shoulder to the other is essential. Therefore, to hone your skills for bottom half you should practice defending and protecting against the other player gaining control of your head and shoulders, where as the opposite is true if you are in half top (you want to practice being efficient at gaining control of your partners head and shoulders). Engaging in half guard will likely immediately reduce the speed of the match due to the high percentage of body to body connection, which allows the game to equalize and become more of a mental and conceptual battle.
When you are in half guard bottom, there are basic motions that will allow you to control distance against your opponent to keep your head and shoulders free; a knee shield, an underhook, and hand control. From the top you should become aware of your body’s stability, and avoiding your partner achieving any of the three methods just mentioned with your own pressure and movement.
Take some time to practice and mentally understand these half guard concepts to feel your half guard proficiency go farther than you ever imagined, at lightning speed!
IF you are beginning your Jiu-Jitsu Journey NOW is the perfect time to learn from one of the LEADING minds in Jiu-Jitsu. The Go Further Faster Series by John Danaher is designed to shorten the learning curve required to become proficient. Take the first step in ENHANCING your Jiu-Jitsu forever!