Next Level Half Guard
One of the top proponent's of the half guard position today is Tom DeBlass. His ability to smash through the half guards of his opponents to secure devastating submissions when on top or to keep some of the largest most fierce opponents at bay with his bottom have guard, has been tested on the top grappling stages today, from IBJJF to ADCC and more recent, but fast growing events like Fight to Win Pro. Tom has also had his half guard at the ready in the premiere MMA events during his time in the UFC and Bellator promotions. For more background on how Tom DeBlass has weathered competitive pressure to forge the premiere jewel of his grappling game, half guard, check out this article from BJJ Fanatics here.
Few high level competitors have the ability to share what they are doing in a way that the average new student with very little grappling experience can begin to be successful putting the principles to work for them in the half guard.
Here are a few keys to DeBlass' Half Guard Success that you will want to take note of:
The Knee Shield
The knee shield can be the half guard players best friend. It can hold off an incredible amount of pressure without too much straining. It can be used to drive into your opponent from the bottom, encouraging them to make moves and fall into your traps. It can also be used as a feint when it is removed. Professor DeBlass often tells his students that one must always be wary of someone who has put down their own shield.
Underhooks: Yours and Theirs
Understanding the importance of your underhooks, whether on the near side or far side depending on the particular half guard you are playing and whether you are on the top or on the bottom is essential to making sure you are able to move your opponent where you need them to move, or perhaps keep them trapped by collapsing their own underhook attempts. Improving your use of underhooks should be a priority for anyone that wants to get better at halfguard.
Controlling the opponent's hip is absolutely one of the most important things you can work on in any position, let alone half guard. But in bottom half guard, if the opponent has free movement of their bottom hip, they will be able to adjust and keep themselves underneath your hips, making the sweep inevitable.
For an article specifically dedicated to some of the principles employed by Tom DeBlass during his half guard sweep attempts, check out this BJJ Fanatics article here.
Besides sweeps and controlling your opponent's top pressure, half guard is a position which affords many different submissions from both top and bottom. In the video below, Professor DeBlass shows a kimura variation from top half that you can add to your game today.
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