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Stop Getting Beat by the Under Hook in Half Guard

Stop Getting Beat by the Under Hook in Half Guard


Half guard can be one of the best and worst places to start initiating a guard pass.  Some people have made a career from forcing half guard and smashing people from there.  This is a common method of passing by a lot of elite level grapplers.  Marcelo Garcia, Rafael Lovato, Rodolfo Viera and many other famous bjj competitors are all notorious for forcing their opponents to play half guard so that they can pass. 

What can easily lead to your demise when trying to pass half guard is if your opponent gets and under hook.  The under hook can be one of the most difficult and game changing aspects of the half guard.  Both from bottom and top, in half guard, we are almost always fighting for the under hook.  So what do we do if someone gets the under hook?  Well, there are so many options that we have.

Today, we are going to look at some counter that we can use with Neil Melanson.  Neil is the head grappling coach of the blackzillians MMA team and he has created a lot of world champion UFC fighters.  Although he is primarily a catch wrestler, many people claim that Neil is one of the best grapplers in the world.  He is an extremely articulate teacher and he has a unique half guard passing system. 

First, we will take a look at something he commonly uses to counter the “under hook get up” from half guard below, then we will take a look at a submission option from him as well.  Check out the video of how Neil demolishes the under hook in half guard below and then we will do a breakdown.  

Breakdown of Neil Destroying the Half Guard:

As you can see the video above has no shortage of detail.   If we were to do a breakdown of the entire video we would end up writing as book so why don’t we discuss some of the key principles.  The first thing that Neil does when he sees someone is about to get the under hook is he will whizzer his arm and put his hand on their knee.  This is imperative when dealing with an under hook.

This technique is not often taught by bjj practitioners and is primarily a catch and wrestling technique.  This will make you whizzer much stronger and it will also prevent your opponent from using their under hook to turn on their knee.  We know if we are in someone’s half guard and they are trying to get up with their under hook that they are probably trying to get to their knees. 

When we whizzer and put our hand on their knee we will make this extremely difficult.  There is a possibility that they will try and limp arm out but Neil even addressed this in the video and said he likes to grab fabric instead of skin (assuming you are doing no gi) in the gi you can grab anywhere. 

Once he has this whizzer control he will bait them to try and get up and use the whizzer to put them on their front shoulder.  This is an extremely uncomfortable position to be in and if someone has this much control on you it can be demoralizing.  After he has secured the good whizzer, prevented the get up and put his opponent on their shoulder he will proceed to free his leg from their half guard.

Once he is able to free his leg from the half guard he locks what wrestlers refer to as a “quarter nelson.”  This is when he figure fours his arms and puts an extreme amount of pressure on their neck.  This is such an uncomfortable position to be in for the person on bottom that they will likely bail on the under hook.  Notice that Neil is on his toes and NOT on his knees.  This is a vital detail when doing this.  You have to be on your toes in order to maximize your pressure.

Once all of this is secured and your opponent has given up their under hook you have a lot of different options that you can go to.  In the video Neil shows us a Darce and some other variations.  You have to under stand that you can go to a darce, anaconda, guillotine, or you could hop to the other side and go for a guard pass or something else.  The possibilities are limitless.  The difficulties will lie in the intital countering of the under hook.

When you are doing these moves you only have one time that this is applicable, if you miss it there is a chance that your opponent can sweep you.  Let’s have a look at another variation for stopping the under hook where Neil goes for a guillotine below and then break it down.

Breakdown of Neil Melanson Counter to Under Hook Get Up:

As you can see in the video above many of the details are extremely similar to those in the first video. In this video Neil will use a high over hook to counter the initial under hook get up as opposed to the deep whizzer where he grabs the leg.  This time Neil is also going to put a lot of his attention to controlling the free arm of his opponent so that they cannot use this arm to get up.

A good over hook like Neil has in this video can stop a lot of people from getting up but if they are very persistent there is a chance that they will use their free hand as a post on the mat and it will give them even more strength to get up and fight past your over hook.  A good half guard player wants to get up at an angle, this is important for them.  The way that Neil controls the free arm in the video forces his opponent to get up with a bad angle and come forward.  This is exactly what Neil wants so that he can sneak his leg out.

After Neil is able to force his opponent to come up improperly, he is going to continue to a guillotine.  The guillotine is a very powerful weapon when going against someone from half guard.  If it is a point bjj tourney we have to be cautious of the fact that we may have to concede a sweep to get a submission, but it may be a necessary risk. 

When Neil goes for this guillotine he is a step ahead of his opponent.  He does not need to go for the guillotine, but he is choosing to do so.  This is because it is a viable option.  If Neil wanted he could go to a darce, to the back, or just force the pass as we saw in the first video.

 If you notice, Neil does not go for a high elbow guillotine or anything fancy, he does a traditional arm in guillotine.  This is one of the best and is definitely tried and true.  Some people think that the arm in is an inferior guillotine, but this is simple not true.  Every person has a way they like doing guillotines, so it is on them.  People like Marcelo Garcia are famous for their high elbow and guys like Kron Gracie are famous for their arm in. Try this technique out and see how it works.

If you want to learn more from the great Neil Melanson check out some of his DVD’s that he made with us.  His products are some of the most sought after and it is for good reason.  IF you want to learn how to DESTROY the half guard and a lot of other positions with very unique and effective techniques that you will probably not see anywhere else, this is your guy. 

Neil can give you such a competitive edge because his style is so different. He has his roots in catch wrestling, but he does it all.  Some of his no gi techniques are literally unheard of and they have helped some of the top UFC competition get to the pinnacle of competition. 


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