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Preventing and Countering the Hip Switch Pass with Lachlan Giles
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Preventing and Countering the Hip Switch Pass with Lachlan Giles

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As the bottom half guard continues to evolve, so do the methods of dealing with it from the top.

When were setting up on the bottom, there’s plenty to be cognizant of. How will the passer deal with your game? Will they attack your knee shield first, weave the legs, or perhaps begin trying to exploit your under hook? There’s lots to consider. Of course, having good half guard structure and understanding the fundamental elements of what allows us to create a half guard with integrity is important. But knowing what to expect is also a consideration. When you know the dangers to the position, it's much easier to mitigate them. 

One of these dangers, and a common one I might add, is when the top player switches their hips. This is a classic variation of half guard passing, and it’s very common. If you’re not sure what I mean, imagine the passer turning their hips so that they’re now facing your legs. Things can get difficult from here. The top player is now past your knee shield and can begin working to free their trapped leg with a less obstructed path. Recognizing this type of passing and having answers for it is incredibly important to the maintenance of your half guard game. 

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If you’re still unsure of the pass I’m referring to check out 2:43 in this video with Lachlan Giles. Here he gives us a breakdown of how to pass using the hip switch. 

Got it? Ok, so now let’s look at how to deal with this half guard killer so we don’t get caught off guard. You can see how effective this pass can be against the half guard if we allow it to begin to develop. This particular pass almost creates a brick wall, blocking our upper body and leaving us without the assistance of the hands. This leaves the passer free to create a workspace at our hips and legs to begin cracking open our guard and eventually passing.

We’ll look at some different answers to the position, including preemptive and worst-case scenarios, and break them down. Lachlan Giles will be our tour guide for this [articular scenario, and he’s got plenty to share on the subject. Check it out!

Addressing some pitfalls of the position to begin, Giles demonstrates how this type of pass may enter the fold. If we fail to maintain the distance between our elbow and our knee shield, this provides a pocket of space for our partner’s body to enter and settle in. This is a good point to keep in mind when working to prevent this type of passing. Try not to extend your partner’s away with your knee shield, which creates this gap. Instead, work to replace your knee shield immediately with your under hook to make sure you’re not giving up unnecessary space. 

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As a second layer of defense, Giles shows us the role of the bottom knee in the exchange. As he feels his partner is working toward the hip switch, he keeps his bottom knee pointed up. As his partner begins the motion, he can use this bottom knee as a block, as well as a way to redirect his partner, retaining his guard, or possibly taking the back. Keep this knee in the passer’s path!

In another slick preemptive motion, Giles lets his hand travel through the armpit to the backside of his partners body then uses it to take away his base as he settles, while also performing a back roll and guiding his partner over in to a reversal. Very cool.

Giles also uses a wedge in the armpit of his partner is a bit late transitioning to the other side of his body. Here he guides the arm and then scoots his hips out to remove himself from the position and reestablish his guard.

As Giles explains, if your partner does manage to settle in, one of the first orders of business is to make sure that you frame the body, and don’t let them climb too high. With frames in place, Giles begins to work up to his elbow and fight for position with his feet, where he can then begin to escape his knee and work toward the back or possibly back to the guard as well.

IF your partner does settle in high, up toward your armpits, this can be a problem but it's not impossible to deal with. If your arm is in front of the passer, arm attacks are a serious threat. Here, Giles keeps his arm very high in the armpit to make it less attackable. If its low, the wrist is very accessible, and this may put us in danger. If both arms are behind his partner, Giles begins to get tricky with his feet. He uses his right leg to hook over his partner’s leg and then reinforces it with his opposite foot putting downward pressure on his partners leg. This causes his partner to lift a bit and a pocket of space becomes available, where Giles can begin working his hand in to the mix. Here he begins to lift and attach his hand to his partners top thigh. As he works his body back and forth, he travels to a deep half guard position where he can continue to work or simply move out to a more open guard scenario to reset. 

If you didn’t pick something up here that can help you, you weren’t paying attention! Giles took us through several preemptive ways to prevent the pass as well as some ideas on how to deal with the pass as it continues to progress. There’s enough here to keep you busy for sure. Great instruction from Giles as always on an incredibly common passing scenario from the half guard. Hope this helps!

Want more from Lachlan Giles? Check out his DVD  "The Half Guard Anthology", and get to work on improving your half guard! BJJ Fanatics has it! Check it out here!

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