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Magic Half Guard Passing from Travis Stevens
The half guard is becoming one of the most popular guard games out there today. In the world of high level competitors, people like Bernardo Faria and Tom DeBlass have made it the foundation of their competitive success and BJJ game plans. For the average practitioner, the beauty of half guard is the relative ease at which someone can begin using it to frustrate their teammates and opponents. It does not require a high level of flexibility or physical strength. The proper use of frames and a knee shield can amplify your ability to keep a heavier, stronger opponent at bay and from there you can begin to work a variety of sweeps, submissions and half guard variations.
With this growth in popularity of half guard and everyone improving their games, getting stuck in an opponent's half guard can be one of the toughest places to be. In the video below, excerpted from his newest release, Magic Guard Passing, Travis Stevens shows how to easily deal with the half guard player who is beginning to make progress offensively and is in danger of possibly reversing or even worse, taking your back. Check out all of the great details below!
Travis Stevens covers a lot of ground in this short excerpt from his new Magic Guard Passing that will have you dealing with and escaping half guard in no time. Let's look at a few key points to remember.
Dealing with the half guard underhook
Anytime someone starts to get active on bottom half guard, you've got to recognize the threats. One of the easiest to spot and most difficult to deal with if you're not careful is a well placed and deep under hook. The deep under hook can steer all of your pressure and weight away from the bottom player, far away from where you need it most.
A solid under hook can also move you forward (against your will) and open up your back at worst and even if you are able to adjust, you will probably open up some space that could allow them to roll under into a deep half guard position which makes matters even worse. The under hook is the first pressing problem you should deal with.
For Travis, dealing with the under hook is a matter of always trying to shorten it to prevent full extension and control by the bottom player. By staying heavy and collapsing on the under hook, you are able to nullify the power and control they have, making it easy to begin focusing on the hips from there.
Bring outside knee inside
Anytime we are trying to deal with a good bottom half guard player, it is important to stay tight and heavy on their hips. Intuitively it seems like a good idea to keep the knee of the leg that isn't entangled wide and in a good base position, but in actuality this creates a lot of space for deep half entries and reversals.
Instead, Travis recommends that you should bring that outside knee in and tight to their hip. This prevents the problem of a very mobile bottom leg and hip from them, which is key to the bottom player making progress.
Reverse grip the bottom arm
This piece of advice is absolute gold, so pay attention. When passing half guard, we all know we should be wary of that free arm that is not being used as a frame. It is the arm that can potentially dive under to control our hip in a deep half entry or even worse, it can start a grab on our outside arm which can be turned very quickly into a kimura. Tom DeBlass is well-known for this kind of attack from half guard.
To protect against this possibility, Travis recommends a palm up control. Though it doesn't feel as "natural" as the palm down grip controlling the arm, it is equally as strong and is absolutely impervious to the kimura attack. Even if the opponent locks it up, it is very easy to extend the arm and the kimura simply slides off. Get used to practicing that grip as soon as possible. Your shoulders and elbows will be thanking you!
Avoid the knee shield entirely
The last key tip that Travis shares that will revolutionize most of our half guard passing games is the notion of 'backing out' when facing a road block, namely a strong knee shield. Too many times, I have wasted way too much effort trying to Hulk Smash through the knee shield, when I could have simply bailed on the position and reset into an open guard scenario or passed the half guard by out flanking it.
For Travis he recommends focusing on the bottom leg which has all of the true power of mobility for their half guard and slicing below the knee. This allows him to untangle his legs and either get around with a pass or reset into an open guard situation. The knee shield becomes a farce at that point because they are no longer controlling the leg and hip. Sweet freedom!
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. This 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!