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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3 Fixes for Sore Fingers in BJJ

So I got a question the other day from someone looking for advice about the pain and inflammation they have in their fingers from training BJJ.

I sent them back a super-quick email response with 3 suggestions, but now want to elaborate on my suggestions in hopes that this info will be useful to someone else too…

BJJ Finger Pain Solution 1

90% of the time BJJ finger pain is caused from maintaining a deathgrip on the sleeves, pants and lapels of your opponent.

This problem is especially bad if you’re focusing too much and too soon on gi-dependent styles of guard like spider guard or some forms of de la Riva guard.

So learn to fight in a style that’s not so grip dependent.  Play less spider guard, less de la Riva guard, less collar and sleeve grip closed guard…

Instead play more butterfly guard, X guard, and the less grip dependent forms of half guard

Go for more armbars and rear naked chokes and less lapel chokes…

Do more pushing and less pulling…

I describe this as ‘playing your gi game as if it’s no gi.’

Be warned that this is easier said than done, because as soon as you run into trouble the temptation is to grip, clench, and hold onto the cloth for dear life again.

Anyway, playing your gi game as if it’s no gi is one good solution to BJJ finger pain.

BJJ Finger Pain Solution 2

Solution 2 is to actually train more no gi instead of just avoiding gi-dependent techniques.

Some people don’t want to take this advice because they’re worried that their gi skills will start falling apart unless they train with the gi all the time.

This is nonsense; many fantastic BJJ players switch between training with and without the gi and find that it’s actually quite beneficial.

Trust me; if you’re doing lots of gi then substituting one or two sessions a week of no gi will only improve your gi based skills.

You’ll learn how to move faster, be more fluid, scramble bettter…

…and, importantly for the current discussion, since you can’t grab cloth in no gi you’ll give your damaged digits a chance to heal up.

Long story short: try substituting one or two gi training sessions a week with no gi.

BJJ Finger Pain Solution 3

My final suggestion is to try taping your fingers.

The first time I did this my fingers » Continue Reading.

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A Strategy for Getting BJJ Tournament Points Fast

The ultimate goal of BJJ competition is to tap your opponent out, not to win by points.  That being said, the point system is still a very important part of the game and you have to understand how to use it!

Here’s why…

First of all, the point system in BJJ tournaments generally reflects what would work in a real fight.

For example, its better to be on top than on bottom in a fight, which is why you get 2 points for a guard sweep.  It’s better to get past the legs of an opponent which is why you get 3 points for the guard pass.  You can hit your opponent harder in kneemount (2 points) or full mount (4 points) than side mount, and the back is the ultimate position for doing unilateral damage to any enemy (4 points).

Secondly, if you get a lot more points than your opponent he may panic, do something stupid, and give you an opening you can use to submit him.

So points are important in BJJ tournaments…

And I recently came across a really cool system for quickly racking up 15 points in competition.

This came from dropping in on my friend Mike Zenga just as he was finishing up training with Robson ‘Mau Mau’ de Lima Rodrigues.

I came in through the basement door in the middle of an all-out dogfight sparring session…

Mike is a big, tall, and skilled black belt, but Mau Mau is a 3 x No Gi Pan Am champion and 1 x World No Gi Champion.  Needless top say there was a lot of sweat, scrambles, and even a brand new hole in the wall where Mike had caved it in.  Fun times!

As they wound down their training Mike started prodding Mau Mau to share his patented system for getting 15 points in competition.  I wasn’t sure what this was, but it sounded good and so I scrambled to get my camera out!

It ended up being some really cool stuff, and I’m glad I can share it with you now.  I think this is one of those things you can add to your game quickly and derive some real benefit from.

Here’s the video of Mau Mau’s system for getting a whole bunch of points and putting your opponent into a terrible position.  And if you scroll down below the video you’ll get that same system in bulleted form.


Here are the steps to go » Continue Reading.

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How To Do The Lapel-Based Brabo Choke

From our very first day on the mat we’re taught to pass the guard before attacking with a submission.

Pass… Establish position… And only then try to submit!

So when a technique like the gi-based Brabo choke comes along it seems very counterinintuitive. Because in it you stay in his half guard, you don’t try to pass, and you still attack with a choke.

Every rule – including the primacy of guard passing – has its exceptions, and the Brabo choke is one of those exceptions.

This particular lapel-based choke is more powerful if it’s applied inside your opponent’s half guard than it is if you pass his guard.

In fact I’ve seen people in sidemount set this choke up from the top, then deliberately allow themselves to ‘accidentally’ get sucked back into half guard before trying to finish the attack.

The first time I saw the Brabo choke with the lapel of the gi was when Marcio Feitosa showed it to me.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures!  And so I shot a video with Denis Kang breaking down the steps of the lapel Brabo choke for you.

Since we’re working with a gi lapel this technique is similar-but-different to the no-gi brabo choke you may have already come across.

This is one of my favorite submissions, because it’s very powerful once applied. Practice this and you WILL tap people out with it.

And the best part is that even if your placements are slightly off and the choke doesn’t work, the pressure of the attack still freaks your opponent out so much that passing his guard becomes child’s play.

Many times when this choke gets used in class or in competition the two competitors are so close together that it’s hard to see the grips and follow what’s going on.

That’s why in this video I show everything from a very straight-up posture – so that you can see everything!

Click play on the video just below and you’ll quickly learn the basics of the lapel-based Brabo choke:

The post How To Do The Lapel-Based Brabo Choke appeared first on Grapplearts.

World Championship Guard Passing with Leandro Lo

In BJJ it’s what you don’t know that hurts you. If you get caught in a position that you don’t have an answer to, that you don’t understand, then life on the mat just got exponentially more difficult. This problem is most pronounced for the guard. It can be really difficult to keep up with […]

BJJ / Grappling Tips: Prevent the guard pass – Ari Galo shows how he developed the best guard ever (no hands)
How do you prevent someone from passing your guard in jiujitsu? Without using your hands? In the video below that has been making the rounds on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, Carlson Gracie black belt Ari Galo shows us his method called “Balling Guard”
That’s nice, but how does he do it? How does he move his legs and hips to nullify the passers attempts to get by? In this second video, he explains how he balls up to always be one step ahead of the opponent.
More drills: While the above is a fantastic skill to drill and add to your arsenal of guard retention techniques and strategies, check out the drill below by Ari. Initially, it look too simple but trust me as soon as you give it a go you will see opportunities to sweep, flip and even get back up to your feet. Fantastic guard skills from a reputable black belt.
Advanced jiujitsu application to the Granby roll:: Triangle choke from half guard by Ryan Hall
In the video below, we take the shoulder roll skill developed above (aka the Granby Roll) further and include it into a quick submission from the guard. Black Belt Ryan Hall shows how he caught countless opponents with his trademark submission: The triangle choke.
Why am I showing you all this, other than the fact that it’s awesome skills demonstrated by very skilled black belts…full time athletes?
Because the skill of rolling over your shoulder to recover the guard is a fundamental movement skill. We’re not looking at turning upside down necessarily. We are looking at adding a third dimension to the horizontal and vertical guard game most beginners have and thereby expanding your guard to an offensive monster!
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A High Percentage Triangle Choke Attack from Half Guard

Some people are under the mistaken impression that you can only defend or sweep from the Half Guard.  But it’s a big mistake to ignore the powerful submission attacks that present themselves from that position! One of the most powerful, most effective, and most popular attacks from the Half Guard is the Triangle Choke.  You […]

Half Guard Flower Sweep Variation

Remember when people used to do just plain old half guard?