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The Art of the Sweep with Lucas Leite, Charles Harriott, and Jon Satava
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The Art of the Sweep with Lucas Leite, Charles Harriott, and Jon Satava

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There’s something incredibly satisfying about taking a resisting opponent from the top to the bottom using good technique. Off balancing someone with a great base and causing them to flip over is skill that must be honed with lots of focus, and knowledge of great mechanics. Understanding what’s essential to effectively sweep a game opponent will require us to delve into the inner workings of what makes this possible. 

Generally speaking, to sweep someone, we must disrupt their center of gravity and take them to a place where there is no base for them to rely on. Although this is not always an easy task it is a principal that we can rely on. Now we just need some methods of doing so. 

There are 1000 ways and then some to reverse our opponents. Choosing your methods will probably depend largely on your guard preference and may also be dictated by your body type to some degree. I find most practitioners begin to gravitate early in their training to certain concepts and then build from there, discovering new things along the way to add value to this aspect of their game. 

Today, Let’s look at several different types of sweeps and see how some of the best explain the methods behind the madness. We’ll study several different sweeps from multiple guards and break down the intricacies of each one to help us better understand what makes them tick. Let’s get started!

Let’s first take a look at a basic half guard sweep from Lucas Leite. If you’re unfamiliar with Leite, he is one of the great half guard players of our time. His game is unbelievably impressive and watching him work is just simply a joy. Here he presents us with the sweep that has made him famous. The dogfight sweep. If you look up a highlight video of Leite, you will see this sweep being performed over and over again on some of the world’s best practitioners. The half guard itself is a phenomenal platform from which to launch an entire catalogue of reversals. I would recommend trying this one first and making it a frequently used part of your half guard tool box. Take a look!

 

Setting up in the half guard, Leite acquires a series of frames. First, the knee shield. The knee shield is essential to building proper structure and keeping our opponents at a distance. He also forms a cupping mechanism at this opponent’s bicep. This will perform a variety of functions including the blocking of strikes in a self defense scenario. His bottom hand controls the opposite side wrist. This will keep him safe from various attacks as he begins to hunt for the under hook.

As Leite kicks his knee shield through he replaces it with an under hook. Here he still controls the wrist, referencing MMA as an example of why we may want to do so. This will also help prevent neck attacks and various other troubles. Here, Leite performs a signature movement with his feet. He switches his half guard hook and scoops his partners foot with his outside heel, scraping it away. 

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If his partner does not secure a whizzer, the back take is imminent. As the whizzer is put in place, Leite now transitions to his knees, pulling his bottom leg out from underneath his partner’s knee. Once he’s positioned on his knees, Leite squeezes his knees together to keep his partner’s leg stuck. 

From here, we may be used to just attempting to steam roll our partners over tot eh mat but Leite provides a much more technical method of completing this one. He lifts his hook up off the mat (the one his partners foot is resting on) and begins to rotate away from his partner. This manipulates the knee in an uncomfortable manner and causes the reversal to take place. As his partner’s hips collapse, Leite keeps his hook elevated. Using his hips to keep pressure on his partner, Leite then backsteps to the rear of his partner and begins to transition to the back. 

Everyone needs to know this one. This particular sweep will be a hub for a multitude of reversals. Get on it!

Let’s keep moving with a sweep from one of my favorite positions, single leg x guard. The SLXG is a versatile position which gets associated with leg attacks much of the time, but it can be used in a variety of ways. The most basic sweep from the SLXG is incredibly simple to learn but becomes a difficult task when the passer has good base and balance. In this video Charles Harriott shows us a shortcut to off balancing even the most agile of guard passers. This is a great piece of instruction. Check it out!

 

When we’ve established the SLXG position, its always very easy to bring the sweep to life if we can acquire both feet. If this is possible tis always going to produce a sweep. As Harriott explains, we simply secure the foot, lift up with the hips and guide the passer down tot eh mat. Simple right? However, with an experienced player, acquiring this foot may be very difficult, as the consequences will be on the radar for sure. Most passers will do their best to keep the foot away and continue to maintain good balance. Harriott has a great answer for this dilemma. 

As Harriott realizes that the traditional sweep is not an option his pushes upward with his outside leg. This cause his partner’s foot to rise off the floor. As this occurs, Harriott uses his triceps to tuck his partner’s foot under his body. His partner is basically faced with the option to place all of his weight on a bent foot (never a good option) or to take the sweep. 

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Take note of the constant rotation in Harriott’s body as he works his way through the sweep. This is important to keeping that foot in a compromised position and also guiding his partner to the mat in the proper manner. 

This is a fantastic example of a very unique way to off balance a savvy guard passer. Great detail here from Harriott. 

All guards have their own unique methods of off balancing and manipulating the passers weight, but there may not be a more dynamic example of this concept than the butterfly guard. The butterfly guard boasts so many off balancing tools its hard to even comprehend. With the butterfly guard, reversals in all directions are at your fingertips if you how to play the game. Jon Satava knows how to play this game better than most and, in this video, he gives us an option for reversal from the butterfly guard that your opponents may not see coming. This is awesome, check it out!

 

As Satava explains, when he’s working from the butterfly guard there are different ways for his opponents to respond. One very common response is to sit heavy and try to maintain a solid base with good posture. This may not lend itself to a traditional butterfly guard sweep, but it does open up a different door. 

Answering the acquisition of a two on one grip, Satava’s partner postures up. Satava wants to be careful here to not over extend himself and force a scenario that’s just simply not there. Its likely that his partner will try to push him with his free arm. As this occurs, Satava use the two on one grip to lift and clear his partners opposite arm out of the way. He then configures his legs in a manner that allows him to rise up and move forward quickly. As he drives forearm, he encapsulates his partners hips and forces him to the mat, completing the reversal. Satava also offers alternative positioning for the head as well, possibly making this a bit more powerful. This is an awesome and probably largely unexpected option from this versatile position. 

That concludes our study of the sweep for today. We covered three very different scenarios in the videos today, but all of them lead to the same place. The ability to reverse in my humble opinion is one the most important skills in all of jiu-jitsu, and it needs to be consistently nurtured. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! Good luck! 

The Modern Butterfly Guard No-Gi By Jon Satava gives you an In-Depth look at the 2018 ADCC East Coast Trials Champ’s Butterfly Guard. The Modern Butterfly Guard No-Gi is a 4 part instructional that is sure to UPDATE and IMPROVE your Butterfly Guard. Cover all of the aspects required to be a Butterfly Guard MASTER. Learn the Grip Variations, Sweep Attacks, and Submissions that make Satava Great!

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