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Is the John Wayne Sweep the Easiest Half Guard Sweep?

Is the John Wayne Sweep the Easiest Half Guard Sweep?


Half guard is one of the easiest guards to find yourself in when training and competing.  When your opponent's primary initial goal is to get past your guard, chances are you will find yourself in half guard more often than you may want.   Gone are the days when it was looked down upon as a last ditch effort to simply prevent the guard pass.  Today, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu luminaries like Bernardo Faria and Tom DeBlass have used half guard as the central component of their entire games.  So why not begin to explore the guard and see where it can take you on the mats.

Learning Basics with the John Wayne Half Guard Sweep

And what better way to get started then by looking at one of the most common and easiest half guard sweeps that one can pull off.  The John Wayne Sweep is characterized as a rolling sweep that debases your opponent and has you rolling over them like the fight scenes in the old Cowboy movies where it got it's name.

When it comes to the half guard, people usually either love it or hate it. The most common issue I hear about it (usually from lower belts) is that the sweeps are too difficult to perform. While I do believe that half guard sweeps are a little more intensive than closed guard sweeps, I wouldn’t call them hard. And the half guard will save your butt at least a couple times during training and competition. There is one simple sweep that even people who do not like to play half guard will love to do. It is called the John Wayne Sweep. See what the easiest sweep of all half guard sweeps…

Before I get into the technical aspects of the John Wayne Sweep, let me cover the name. It is called the John Wayne Sweep because of the fact that it looks like an easy, every day roll over. Similar to how John would fight the bad guys in the old westerns. They would brawl, and eventually they would end up rolling in the dirt. Hence the name. Now let’s talk technique.

Technique of The John Wayne Half Guard Sweep

Perhaps you get an underhook on your opponent, while he applies a whizzer to stop a back take. To counter the whizzer, you need to turn your arm in and clamp down on his arm. This is so that he cannot easily disengage. Use your other hand to block any cross face attempt. You will need to open your half guard. Your top leg will need to post, while you partially retract your other leg. Your foot and shin should be barely over your opponent’s ankle. You do this so your bottom knee can be free to move, which will be important to get the roll over for the sweep. Once everything is in place, it will be time to finish the sweep. Use your free knee to move your leg up and over like a lever while you use your other posted leg to generate power, similar to a bridge movement. Keep your upper body connections and you will get right on top of your opponent without burning hardly any energy or strength.

 In the video below, Sean Roberts lands an excellent example of the John Wayne Sweep on the incredible Rodolfo Vieira.  

 Though ultimately, Vieira was able to regain the upper hand after the sweep, it's clear to see how relatively simple the sweep is to land, even on the larger, more powerful opponent.  The key is the use of the free shin as both a control mechanism and then ultimately as a 'crowbar' which will help leverage the person's weight over.

 In the next video, It is not a John Wayne sweep but rather some important fundamentals that may help you develop your half guard more, Tom DeBlass and BErnardo Faria show some excellent half guard framing tips! Check it out! 

Learning to Love the Half Guard Sweep

Without a doubt, half guard is one of the most exciting guards to begin learning if you haven't already.  It is a powerful and dynamic position that can keep you safe and secure under incredible pressure.  The sweeps and submissions that can be launched from half guard will make your opponents and training partners tremble.

Don’t fear the half guard. It is your friend, not your foe. You need to take your time to drill and execute these sweeps in a live manner. When you get the proper mat time, you will see great improvement and might even come to love the position. Researching the half guard is a great way to get accustomed to it. And if you have that strong interest then you must check out some of the best examples of half guard out there.

Once you've spent some time introducing yourself to the world of half guard and sweeps, you will want to take a look at another article on developing your overall half guard game with these next level pointers from BJJ Fanatics here.

Take advantage of one of the best half guards on the planet from world champion and legendary instructor Bernardo Faria here at BJJ Fanatics.  His techniques have been proven on the battle field time and time again to help him get onto the top of some of the world's highest podiums.


Enjoyed reading about John Wayne Sweep? Then we think you should consider checking other sweeps:


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