Killing the Knee Shield with Yuri Simoes
Half guard is becoming popularized by jiu jitsu icons like Bernardo Faria and Tom DeBlass among others who have taken what was formerly a last ditch effort to stop someone from passing your guard, and developed entire offensive and defensive systems that have helped get them to the top of competitive grappling.
A strong half guard is typically characterized by the use of a controlling bottom leg that hooks the thigh of the opponent, a sturdy knee shield created by the top leg and angling towards the far shoulder of the opponent, and finished with a framing arm on the same sized and a bottom arm that works to ensure you don't get cross faced.
When any of these elements is missing or compromised, the the half guard can fail. Without the bottom hooking leg, the opponent is free to pass rather easily. If the knee shield isn't strong and sturdy, the top player will easily be able to smash through your defenses. For more on the importance of distance management to a strong half guard game, check out this article from BJJ Fanatics.
In the video below, half guard master, Bernardo Faria joins with two time ADCC champion Yuri Simoes who shows one of his favorite half guard passing techniques to crush a strong knee shield.
Key points of Yuri Simoes Pass:
Everybody knows it's important to control the bottom leg when dealing with the knee shield and many of us try to lace our arms through the leg to control the shield leg and connect yourself to the hips on the bottom, but how strong and forward driving is the pressure? Yuri advocates an extremely heavy, forward driving shoulder pressure, not only to put pressure on the opponent but also to allow him to step back with the leg and bring it through.
Brace the lace
When you step up while maintaining strong shoulder pressure, you will be able to step back and bring your knee through to help brace the arm you have laced through driving the knee towards the floor but keeping the foot hooked on the opponent's leg.
Watch your feet
The reason you would keep your foot hooked and hidden is to prevent yourself from having the opponent who likes to scoop under you and attack your legs. If that is not a concern, you are able to sit through and pop the leg out.
Get the underhook
The far underhook is important to combine the pressure on the hips and keep the opponent from adjusting their body position and alleviating the hip pressure.
Follow the grips to fruition
The final key point is that Yuri recommends not only thinking in terms of the positional advancement, but to also follow the grips you achieve to fruition. In his example in the video, he builds on the underhook grip and isolates the arm and finishes with a straight arm lock.