Ridiculously Easy Deep Half Guard Sweep
Deep half guard is a very dynamic variation of traditional or standard half guard that truly represents the philosophic approach of "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade". There are a number of common entries into deep half; let's take a look at two of them.
In the first, the opponent steps up the near side leg to attempt to pass our standard half guard. By kicking through with our bottom leg and chopping at the leg in order to extend it and to throw them off their balance, while simultaneously turning into them, bringing their thigh onto our upper body and controlling the upper thigh with our arms and the lower leg with our feet, we catch them in deep half guard.
Another common way to get yourself into deep half is to find yourself mounted from the back and squirm your way into it. By keeping your elbows tight and and preventing the underhooks, you can scoot your butt away dropping deeper and deeper down the front of their torso until you are able to work an arm and your legs into the standard deep half position.
In both of these examples, you have taken a pass attempt and a dominate position and turned it into the deep half guard and opened them up to a number of possible sweeps from this position.
But like any position, deep half guard can be countered or reversed. The most common things that happen to the bottom deep half guard player is that they get their arm that is not connected to the thigh caught with either an under hook or even worse by a kimura submission on that same arm.
The second thing that can happen is the opponent will build a base with their thigh and knee that are trapped and attempt to step over the head of the opponent and pass the deep half guard. This is also a way for them to not only pass the guard, but to also attempt a knee bar submission.
Both of these can be prevented or at least discouraged by proper arm placement. In the case of the kimura attempt, the outside arm needs to be buried or hidden underneath of the thigh that is trapped on the opponent. This makes it virtually impossible to attack or underhook. Another technique to prevent the step over is to wrap the opponent's free leg and grab a grip on their lapel, which is a detail that will factor in to the sweep we talk about below.
In the video below, world champion Bernardo Faria and his friend and business partner, Michael Zenga who are the driving forces behind all of the great content here at BJJ Fanatics, share a ridiculously simple deep half guard sweep that anyone can add to their game. Michael is a 230 lb grappler in his 40's who, according to Bernardo, can roll forever. This is not because of some innate athletic gift or ability. Instead, it is because Michael knows how to control the younger, stronger grapplers and use the gas in his tank most efficiently, as will be evident with this sweep.
There are a number of key details important for this ridiculously simple sweep. First and foremost, he must ensure that his outside arm is not susceptible to being trapped by the under hook. This will make anything else irrelevant, because he will be flattened out and unable to sweep Bernardo.
Once the arm is hidden well, it is common for the opponent, as Bernardo does in the video to drive the thigh that is trapped and it's knee to the ground to become heavy and create a base. Once they've accomplished this, the other side of their body becomes light and they will most likely attempt a step over pass. Zenga capitalizes on this attempt to trap wrap the thigh and take a grip on the fabric or lapel of their gi.
Then in a motion very similar to a turkish get up, he will work his way first to his elbow, while still maintaining the grip on the lapel and punching them sideways. Their natural reaction will be to base out to the side to prevent themselves from tipping over. Once their hand hits the mat and the weight is committed, Michael will adjust the direction of his push to a completely backward push, which puts them flat on their back and in this case, perfectly into a position from which to attempt the over under pass.
At the end of the day, a sweep is simply a technique which tips someone over by removing their ability to base, like removing legs from a table and watching it topple over. This sweep, more than any, epitomizes the notion of jiu jitsu as utilizing the least amount of force for maximum benefit. Simply by adjusting the driving force away from their re-established base and hand on the mat and pushing them backwards, you will have them shocked and scrambling to get to a better position.