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BJJ / Grappling Tips: Half Guard Top Theme Part 3

In my previous 2 posts I explained the main concepts a Half Guard Player can dominate your trapped leg from the half guard by controlling your foot, your knee and / or your hip. I explained that I’ve found that the key to unraveling their control is to negate their control of the trapped foot using a “Lockdown” style control. Once I freed and hid my foot, I noticed most of my training partners tried to control my hip instead and yesterday I discussed what I have found to be the most important concept to prevent the opponent from controlling my hip (plus 3 auxiliary ones) and outlined my counters to their counters. Lastly, I promised I’d show two approaches I’ve been playing with to how I deal with the Butterfly Half Guard and today is the day.

The Butterfly hook in the half guard serves the purpose of creating space but also stickiness to the top player. If you are to negate that, you need to address both these consequences of the butterfly hook.

As promised, I give you two expressions of the same set of principles. First is Master Pedro Sauer’s version and second is that of the legend that is Mr Roger Gracie. Notice that while they deal with the problem (having space created against them by the bottom guy) slightly differently, they achieve the same objective, albeit using different tools:

Master Pedro Sauer:

Professor Roger Gracie:

I hope you enjoyed this extended and detailed style of blog and that you spend the upcoming 5-6 weeks putting one or two tips out of it into your own practice. I welcome all feedback, just drop me a line through the link at the top of the blog.

Next topic: The side mount (AKA Side Control or even Cross Side).

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BJJ / Grappling tips: Foot Sweeps – sasae tsurikomi ashi combinations

Both jiujitsu and judo have an extensive repertoire of standing techniques. Gracie jiujitsu mainly concerns itself with defensive techniques and tactics that allow you to close the distance against an armed or unarmed opponent, sportive jiujitsu focuses on transitioning to the ground (mainly) and while that is also the focus of judo, the international judo federation rules add an element of explosiveness and finality to the standing portion: A good throw that lands the opponent flat on their back will not just score highly in judo, it will end the match!

Studying for me black belt theory in judo, I read that while jiujitsu had always been a fighting and, consequently, battlefield art, it never quite developed the foot sweeps much. Hip- and hand-throws (such as O goshi and Seoi nage, respectively) were king and queen. It was only with the focus of judo on indoor training on tatami (traditional straw-mats) that they flourished. Always training and competing on predictably flat and smooth terrain meant judoka could design competition strategies that centered around the timing-based foot sweeps or ashi barai.*

One such technique is the sasae foot sweep: Sasae Tsuri Komi Ashi. A beautiful technique centering around correct timing and weight distribution disrubtion. Here’s a nice demonstration of the throw by none less than BJ Penn:

With that said, foot sweeps, or any other technique, work best in combination and since Sasae is a forward throwing technique, it’s best combined with a technique that throws the opponent backwards such as O soto gari:

The best part of Sasae? No matter how much you commit to the technique, even if you do not throw the opponent, you lose very little and can immediately commit to your next level of attack and when you do nail it, the opponent will fall right next to your feet (often) with an arm dangling up.

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*They existed within koryo (old school) jiuitsu, but not as thoroughly developed and studied as within judo.

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