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Slick Armbar Set Up by Craig Jones
The half guard is one of the most, if not the most, utilized positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Amongst beginners looking to expand their game beyond the difficulty of closed guard, half guard provides greater potential in terms of sweeps and submission attempts. Half guard also seems to be more popular amongst bigger and heavier grapplers.
Oddly, taller, lankier Jiu Jitsu players opt out of half guard for more advanced positions like reverse de la riva guard, butterfly guard, and so on.
This is unfortunate for them because having long legs is a great attribute when using half guard. This is because with longer legs, it is easier to wrap up submissions using the legs and leg attacks as well.
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One modification of half guard frequently used by Craig Jones with great success is a position known as Z-guard. Z-guard resembles tradition half guard a lot but the main difference is where and how the knee shield is placed.
Rather than having a high knee shield extending diagonally across the top player’s body, in Z-guard the knee shield is much lower, essentially horizontal. More so, the knee cap of the top leg should come into direct contact with the top players same side hip. This placement of the knee helps the guard player when trying to push and extend the top player away.
The most common thing a top player will do to halt a half guard player and pass their guard is search for a cross face. This is usually a bad sign for the bottom player, but in a reality, if someone is reaching for a cross face, they are exposing their arm. This will allow for many submissions attacks if the guard player knows them.
Craig Jones is an Australian BJJ Black belt out of Absolute MMA. He rose in popularity after a killer performance in ADCC 2017, upsetting some huge names. In the following video, Craig Jones illustrates a slick armbar set up from Z-guard to counter the cross face. See below:
Although you can finish this armbar while the defender is hunched down, I recommend being ready to roll them ever because they will not just lay there complacent.
To do this, reach for their toes and pull them to your head while rolling them with your lower body. From here, you end up in a traditional armbar which is easier to finish.
Learn and develop your half guard game from the champion that mastered it!