When you think of half guard, who do you think of?
There are a lot of practitioners out there that use the half guard as their primary guard. Do you think of Tom DeBlass? Perhaps Lucas Leite? Or maybe you think of Bernardo Faria?
There are so many best practices out there and we are fortunate that we live in the digital age where these tips and tricks can be shared digitally and instantly with the click of a button. Some of the best half guard video instructionals available today include the following:
The Coyote Half Guard – by Lucas Leite
The No Gi Half Guard – by Bernardo Faria
Half Guard Domination – by Tom DeBlass
Now that you know where to find some of the best techniques, tips and tricks from the best in the world, let’s dive into it!
Starting out he tried playing spider guard, but found it overly complicated and uncomfortable. Moving on from here he tested the waters with butterfly guard, but also found it to be uncomfortable and just simply didn’t feel right.
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From here he went back to the basic and began developing his closed guard game. He goes on to say that his closed guard game was the best game he had at the time. When he started competing at the age of 15 his go to move was to pull his opponents into his closed guard and get to work. This plan began to fail him when opponents started to realize his game plan from studying him. They would be ready and shoot their legs backward leaving Bernardo unable to lock the guard and in a sort of open guard position in which he was not as familiar and did not have a game plan from.
Needing a plan Bernardo went back to the drawing board. One day in class the instructor taught a single leg half guard position and it just clicked for him. Bernardo went on to develop his system of attacks and sweeps from half guard now, just as he has done with closed guard. This allowed him to have 2 games to respond to the opponent accordingly regardless of what happened when he pulled guard. It wasn’t long before Bernardo realized that it was more efficient for him to somewhat abandon closed guard and only play single leg half guard.
Like before, his opponents figured out his game, but this time he was prepared with a game from deep half guard. Now, when facing an opponent, Bernardo had options from closed guard, which was less common for him, single leg half guard, and deep half guard, which were his two primary games.
It was after some success with this that Bernardo started to seek to understand every possible outcome from closed guard, half guard and deep half guard. He goes on to say that this is when your Jiu Jitsu really starts to become efficient “When you know every possible option that your opponent can use against you, and you have a counter for that action”. When you start to seek out knowledge and not just know the technique, but truly know the technique in enough detail that you can teach it, answer questions about it, and explain it from any possible starting or stopping point, that is when you truly know the position. It should be your goal to stay one step ahead of your opponent. In knowing what they are most likely to do, and having a game, or a response to that, you will stay a step ahead because they will always be playing your game.
Bernardo is clear in saying there are tons of techniques in Jiu Jitsu, all of which work well, but not all of them will be your favorite. He chose a half guard dominate game because it is what felt the best to him and it’s what he liked the most, but he is not trying to force it or sell it on anyone else. It seems the message he is sending is find a game that you love, that you are obsessed with and learn everything there is to know about that game. When you have a game that you created, unique to you, full of techniques you love, you will be more likely to do deep dives into studying the techniques associated with this game and therefore will be more efficient on not just in training, but more effective in competition too.
It’s important to also point out that just because it isn’t part of your game, doesn’t mean it’s not important, it is. The example Bernardo provides is showing up to class where the instructor is teaching spider guard. He points out that you need to understand the position because someone might put you in that position. You also should know how to move through various guards to get to the guard you prefer.
When you focus on a smaller game, rather than trying to learn every possible technique, you will naturally get much better because there is some focus on specific areas rather than a broad basic knowledge of a technique you can really dive in and study the techniques to fully understand them. Bernardo gives the example trying to learn all of Jiu Jitsu and be good at it all is like trying to be a great doctor, surgeon, engineer, pilot and so on. You get the point. Focus delivers results. Find an area that interests you and focus on it until you’ve reached a level of mastery and then move on to the next position or technique that interests you.
One of the most useful things to know when you decide to focus on a particular area or series of techniques is how to get from where you are, to a position that is a part of that focus area. Once again, Bernardo Faria to the rescue with “Transition Mastery: Seeing Jiu Jitsu From Beginning to End”. That’s a bold statement, seeing Jiu Jitsu from beginning to end?! I mean… that’s pretty good eyesight. How could you not buy this instructional with a statement like that.