Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell Is Top Half Guard
Half guard: it’s not a terrible place to be stuck, as long as you’re on top. You don’t have much to fear besides being swept, though there are plenty of sweeps to fear. Still, you’re close enough to much more dominant positions – like mount or side control – that wasting time squirming in top half guard can get really frustrating . So, in the interests of avoiding that, we’ll work, today, on passing half guard.
We’ve got three methods on tap. The first two assume that you have your far-side under-hook in place; the third assumes you do not. All three are pretty simple, conceptually, but all three become (understandably) more challenging when your opponent has a vice-grip on your leg. In all three, we’ll assume your opponent has your left leg to start. Let’s dive in:
I. The “Baseball Slide” Pass
This is probably the simplest of the three passes we’ll cover here. Your opponent has his legs wrapped around your left leg, and you have your far-side under-hook, meaning your left arm is hooked under your opponent’s right arm. Your head is over his right shoulder.
- Drive your shoulder into his chin. Use your right shoulder to drive your opponent’s chin toward his right shoulder. He wants his hips facing to his left, to maximise his grip on your leg. With his neck turned the other way, that’s hard.
- Lift and twist your hips. As your opponent’s grip weakens, you’ll be free(r) to move your leg. Raise your hips and turn them to your right.
- Get your knee and hips to the mat. Pop your left (formerly trapped) knee up to your opponent’s hip, across his left hip, and down to the mat. You’ll have both knees on the same side of your opponent’s legs.
- Consolidate good side control. Plant your left knee at your opponent’s hip. Keep your hips low. Continue to hold on to your far-side under-hook.
The video below demonstrates how to move to mount or side control, the difference being which of your opponent’s hips you slice your knee over.
II. The “Tripod” Pass
- Drive your shoulder into his chin. As above, cranking your opponent’s head to your left (his right) will make it harder for him to hold on to your leg.
- Block your opponent from getting to closed guard. If your opponent can sneak his left leg (the one that’s between yours) out to your right, he can trap you in closed guard – and that’s a pain. So, while holding on to the under-hook with your left arm, plant your hand on your opponent’s thigh to block it.
- Post up on your legs and your head. Switch your head to your opponent’s other shoulder. Straighten your legs and post on those and the top of your head, making yourself a tripod. Make sure to keep blocking his bottom leg.
- Get your knee and hips to the mat. As above, pop your left knee up to your opponent’s hip, across his left hip, and down to the mat. You’ll have both knees on the same side of your opponent’s legs.
- Consolidate good side control.
III. The “Te Huna (?)” Pass
Now, we suppose you don’t have the far-side under-hook.
- Move to your opponent’s other side. Get your left elbow to the mat next to his left ear.
- Twist to face your legs. Keep your hips low, otherwise you risk getting rolled over.
- Prop your trapped heel against your opponent’s butt. You can either walk your foot up that way or grab it and pull it towards you. Either way, you want to make your shin vertical. That’s much harder for your opponent to hold.
- Push his legs to your knee and down to the floor.
- Drop your knee to the mat and kick your foot free.