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Judo Half Guard Passes
Half guard in judo is a frustrating position to get stuck in. If an opponent catches one leg suddenly you go from winning by pin to nothing, with very little time to progress before being stood back up. Often times judoka end up just accepting whatever points they got for the throw and allow the reset.
But after all that work of getting the other guy to the ground, all the energy spent on takedowns, all of that just to let the opponent. Tournament day, with multiple matches, you want to finish each one as quickly as possible.
Kayla Harrison is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, with many of her wins coming from newaza (ground techniques). She was trained by Coach Jimmy Pedro, who specialized in newaza as well. In addition to that she is an undefeated mixed martial arts fighter.
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For the first pass, the opponent gets a standard half guard. Kayla takes an underhook and cross face and drives into them on active toes. The goal is to use the cross face to force their head to turn away. This will make the opponent miserable just being there, and is mechanically important as well.
With the upper body secured, Kayla pikes her hips up. She posts on her head and on her under hooking hand out to prevent getting swept and gets everything but her toes off the ground. The opponents clamp will naturally slide down Kayla’s trapped leg until they can only lock below the knee. Her free leg takes a large step to the side, and the trapped leg drops down mat in a knee cut position. The free leg comes back and kicks the opponent’s leg off her trapped ankle, and now she is in a pinning position.
The pressure from the cross face is kept the entire time. Mechanically, it is very hard for the bottom person to keep their guard if the top half of their body is being pointed a different way than the lower half
The next pass is if the opponent gets a double laced configuration on the leg. This is were they triangle their legs and curl the top of their foot around the top of Kayla’s. Similar to jiujitsu’s lockdown position, this allows for greater control of that leg. It is easy for the opponent to stretch their legs down and force Kayla’s trapped leg to also extend, making the first pass impossible now.
Instead, Kayla takes her underhooking arm out and brings it around to the other side of their head. Her free back steps over so she is now in a reverse half position. The next step is to attack the arm in front of her, coming under and grabbing the wrist to keep it in place (similar to attacking a one handed kimura).
The other hand grabs the gi fabric at knee, well her free foot braces against the bottom leg. The foot kicks while the hand pulls and her leg comes free.
Many inside trips in judo allow opponents to land in a half guard. Passing is an important, but under utilized skill in judo, and will allow you pick up wins on the ground as well as in standing.
Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison is ready to show you the techniques that helped her become one of the most accomplished combat athletes on the planet! The Real Judo Chop and Other Favorites by Kayla Harrison will increase your success rate with throws, grips, and submissions! Check It out!