One of my goals for 2019 is to focus on my half guard game. From early on 1/2 guard was a big part of my game. I mainly focused on using the lockdown since I came from a 10th Planet school. While the lockdown is great and offers a ton of options, I decided a few years ago that I needed to expand my game and learn a more traditional half guard game. Below are a few of my major takeaways from the last few months of focusing on half guard.
Always attack from your side
When I first learned the lockdown I remember Eddie Bravo talking a lot about needing to get to your side. Trying to attack from your back is very difficult and gives your opponent time to smash you and make you very uncomfortable. Being on my side in both lockdown and traditional half guard has allowed me to be more dynamic with my movements and avoid getting smashed. I am also finding it easier to move my opponent on top when I am on my side and dive for the legs to go for various sweeps.
The Crossface from Bottom
One of the DVDs that I have been studying about the half guard is Lachlan Giles’ 1/2 Guard Anthology. Early on in the DVD Lachlan shares a concept that has changed how I play bottom 1/2 guard. Typically when we think of cross facing in 1/2 guard we think about doing it from the top position. Lachlan argues instead that we should also be doing it from the bottom. Since I have started incorporating a crossface from the bottom I have found that I am making more space which allows me to get to my side and create more openings for things like underhooks, butterfly hooks, etc.
Always look for the Underhook
With the lockdown one of the main things you are looking for is the double underhooks. With traditional 1/2 guard, I have found that one of the main things I need to be looking for is getting the underhook. Having an underhook allows you to control your opponent’s hips which gives you the ability to stop them from moving forward. The underhook is always one of the best ways to come up to your knees. One aspect of my underhook game that has improved this year is now I fight to get the underhook. Before I would casually try and get it. Now I use things like my knee shield, bumping them forward, weird movements with my arms, or any other thing I need to do to get the underhook. Once I am able to get to my underhook and be on my side I feel like my chances of sweeping or escaping the 1/2 guard go up immensely.
One of the criticisms of the lockdown is that your legs are super committed to the lockdown. While having your legs super committed is great for controlling your opponent it does hinder your ability to move around your opponent. These past few months I have found that using traditional 1/2 guard has helped me start to see how I can use my legs as a knee shield, to bump them forward, and to help tweak out their leg which weakens their base. I still use the lockdown from time to time if I want to “settle” my partner down but overall I am really liking how I can use my legs in traditional 1/2 guard to set up sweeps.
If you are in the LA area and are looking to expand your half guard game head on over to my contact page to set up a private lesson where we can expand upon what I talked about here and help you become a 1/2 guard master.