The Perfect Half Guard Pass with John Danaher
The half guard may be the most commonly used position in all of BJJ. From the bottom or the top, many practitioners at all levels prefer to funnel their opponents into this incredibly dynamic position where they feel most comfortable and able to control the flow and pace of the jiu-jitsu exchange.
When it comes to passing the half guard, an internet search will produce an absolutely absurd amount of answers that would take you days to sift through. This topic is among one of the most talked about themes in the entire game and everyone has their methods that serve them best. But conceptually, the half guard must be approached a bit differently than other guards.
It is absolutely essential that you understand where to start when it comes to passing the half guard. You will encounter this position at all levels, from white to black belt, thousands of times over the course of your career and the way you approach it will have massive effects on your ability to not only pass, but to win.
In his newest, highly anticipated instructional series, Half Guard Passing and Dynamic Pins, John Danaher reveals the crucial skills of passing the half guard and securing the dominant position. As with all of Danaher’s instructionals, the approach is incredibly intelligent and follows a blueprint for systematically dismantling the bottom players defenses in order of importance so that you can effectively pass and advance. The fun doesn't stop there. In the later parts of the series, Danaher addresses the concepts of effectively pinning an opponent. The science behind holding someone down has never been presented in such a brilliant presentation of exquisite details and concepts that will undoubtedly blow your mind. The content in this series is among the most important in jiu-jitsu.
Let's take a look at a video where Danaher explains some of the principles of the perfect half guard pass. I think you'll find the order of operations very interesting and you may pick up some details that change the way you take on the half guard forever. Have a look at this!
The first 5 or so minutes of this video are quite interesting. As Danaher explains, passing the half guard requires a different approach than other guards. In most cases when we pass, we’re looking to control the hips first and the head is last on the list in the standard passing sequence. With the half guard there's an interesting switch that occurs. The head comes first and the hips comes later. This is important to keep in mind and this detail alone may improve your half guard passing percentage right away.
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Danaher begins his instruction from a common passing position with his knee splitting the guard players legs. He forces the half guard by bypassing his partner's bottom knee and lowering his body down into a half guard passing position. Let's take another pause here and understand something. The crossface is often touted as the tool that flattens our partner in the half guard. But as Danaher states, this is not the case. It's true our initial goal here is to make our partner flat but Danaher does this with his movement across the body, not the cross face. As you can see, even with a heavy cross face in place, the bottom player can still use an under hook to foil Danaher’s plans. Using movement across the body, Danaher can flatten his partner musch easier than if he were just relying on the cross face. Once the far hip and shoulder have been flattened by movement, now the cross face can be brought in to help facilitate even more pressure and control.
Danaher now looks to free his knee from the half guard and to do so, he plants his head on the mat and he uses his elbow to press down on his partner's knee. The hand could also be used here but Danaher cations against this, especially if your partner is taller. You could give access to your arm in this case and run into trouble. With his knee now free, Danaher arrives in the ¾ mount over top of his partner. There will be a sense of urgency for the bottom player to reacquire the knee line and begin to retain the guard, so Danaher begins to apply a scapula cross face that will cause the bottom player to look in the opposite direction.
Next, Danaher backsteps from the top with his free leg and then secures a grip on the pants.It may look as if the top player is vulnerable here but that heavy cross face keeps things in check. Danaher now begins to move his hips in reverse, point his toes parallel with the mat, and uses his free foot as a wedge against the bottom leg of his partner to free himself front eh half guard. As Danaher remarks, this is the last chance for his partner to make a play at getting to the top but again the crossface is still hard at work, controlling the chin and keeping the efforts of the bottom player to explode here quelled.
Even with an explosive partner that does happen to be able to come up on top, Danaher simply keeps his knee on the outside of the hip giving himself the ability to again reverse his partner and put him back to the mat.
As with all of Danaher’s instructionals, the light bulb moments come quickly and often. I frequently find that I've only understood a technique from a certain perspective and Danaher is simply amazing at shedding light on even the most simple concepts that we thought we knew. He helps the student to view a technique or sequence through a different lens and from a more 3 dimensional view. There’s enough in this short video to keep many of us busy for weeks and that's the beauty of Danaher’s instruction. You will always find new territory to explore and add incredible value along the way.
Get the latest game-changing details from John Danaher! Dismantle the half-guard, earn your points, and advance your position under the guidance of one of the BEST instructors in the game, John Danaher!