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Setting Up the Half Guard and Acquiring the Under Hook with Tom DeBlass

Setting Up the Half Guard and Acquiring the Under Hook with Tom DeBlass


Tom DeBlass talks a lot about framing, and various concepts surrounding frames.

And for good reason. Framing is a flagship concept in BJJ. Without the proper understanding of frames, your jiu-jitsu will suffer, especially from a defensive standpoint. Being that frames create space for us, it is essential that they are a critical part of your defense, and that your well versed in when and how to use them.

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DeBlass is also a huge proponent of the half guard. There may not be a more prevalent position where framing is necessary than when we’re using the half guard. The position itself is built upon a foundation of sturdy framework, and that structure will determine our success in the half guard.

In this video DeBlass covers a few key points on setting up your half guard structure. He also gives us some advice on how to properly acquire the under hook. The concepts are simple, but are all your bases covered? Check this out.

DeBlass starts by giving us a reference point for our knee shield. He suggests letting it ride with our knee pointing towards our partners far shoulder, much like a seatbelt would be positioned on the body. DeBlass employs his top arm as another framing tool, which he places under his partners neck. This gives him the ability to steer his partner, and also assists in keeping the passer from getting too close. His bottom hand can be used as yet another frame at the elbow, or to control his partner’s wrist. Be careful not to allow the top player to control your wrist, and if this does happen, DeBlass suggests circling the hand to acquire a grip of your own.

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I really like the perspective DeBlass gives on the under hook. He always talks about reaching up high toward his partner’s shoulder. This gives us the ability to manipulate our partner’s body more so than when the under hook is shallow. Our under hook can quickly turn into an over hook for our partner, changing the landscape of what we’re hoping to accomplish in the half guard, if it’s not properly placed.

As DeBlass goes back down to his side he reaches under his partner’s leg and brings his partners head above his own head. This is something I always try to think about, and I’m always more successful when I do. Getting his partner’s head above his own will give DeBlass the ability to reverse.

DeBlass adds yet another layer of defense to the position by making a triangle on the outside of his partner’s leg and scooping under the shin with his instep. This creates even more trouble for the passer, when trying to gain position.

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