The Art of the Half Guard Sweep with Tom DeBlass

The Art of the Half Guard Sweep with Tom DeBlass

Half guard was once considered a last ditch attempt to prevent one's guard from being passed.  It wasn't until the 1990's when the position became recognized for it's offensive potential through the BJJ game of Roberto "Gordo" Correa, who was actually dealing with a knee problem which prevented him from utilizing a more standard guard game.  Out of this necessity, the light shown on this position that was once deemed inferior.

Since then many high-level jiu jitsu competitors have worked with and refined the half guard position and developed a number of variations, each with it's own flavor.  One of those competitors, Tom DeBlass has become well-known for his use of bottom half sweeps and attacks, as well as his ability to nullify the bottom half games of his competitors when he finds himself in the top position. For an in-depth look at how Tom DeBlass has made a career of dealing with pressure, check out our article from BJJ Fanatics on him here. 

There are a number of key principles and threads that run through Tom DeBlass' half guard game, that if applied to your own BJJ arsenal will improve your half guard application.  For the purposes of this article, we will focus on bottom half and the art of the half guard sweep.  So what are those key principles that will get your opponent's flying.

Where are your hips?

The hips do not lie as the song goes and they also need to be involved in your sweeps.  It is key to have your hips underneath your opponent's hips in order to reverse them in any way.  If your opponent is able to keep your hips away and not allow you to scoop under them, they will have a more formidable base that will require more strength as opposed to leverage.  It is imperative that you work to move your hips into and under the opponent. The movement of the hips under the opponent is a key component of Tom DeBlass' game.  

Where is your opponent's head?

The relation of your head to your opponent's head is equally as important as the hip positioning.  If your opponent's head is below your own head, it will be much harder to try to reverse and sweep your opponent.  It is imperative that you work to keep your head underneath or lower than your opponent's in order to create the necessary leverage to take them over.

In the video below, Professor DeBlass demonstrates one of his favorite sweeps.  The waiter sweep can be executed in a Gi or No Gi scenario.  It's crucial in this technique to maintain control on the opponent's hip until your hips can be rotated around and underneath the opponent.  In addition, the outside arm is very susceptible to being attacked from the top, so one must be wary of the opponent's ability to attack.

 No matter what your favorite technique for reversing from half guard, if you are not cognizant of moving and keeping your hips underneath the hips of your opponent.  By ensuring that your hips are underneath, you will find that you are probably using less strength and your sweep percentage will increase.

Similarly, it's crucial to recognize proper head placement to keep your head lower than the opponent's and accentuate the hip positioning that you are also working.  By combining these two principles you will wreak havoc on the bases of all of your teammates and opponents. 

If you're ready to dominate the half guard position from the top and the bottom, you'd better grab one of the fastest selling instructionals BJJ Fanatics has ever offered.  Get Tom DeBlass' 4 DVD set "Half Domination" for the amazingly low price of $77 before it sells out again!