John Will 9 Jul 2005
The was all on half guard bottom. All descriptions assume you have his right leg between your legs.
1. Get the underhook with your left arm
2. Get on your right side
Getting the underhook
If you get the underhook, you get to do your stuff (sweeps, escapes, etc.) If he gets the underhook, he gets to try his pass. So for you to do your moves, you MUST get the underhook (NB there are options if you can't get the underhook, discussed below).
Try to get the underhook before you pull half guard. As you close with your opponent, you can keep your left arm glued to your torso so he has to come over the top of it with his right arm. Then the underhook is right there. Do this rather than get into a pummelling match for the underhook with him.
If he is on top of you and you do not have the underhook, you can get it this way:
Both feet on the floor - I think they have to be inside his leg - and shins angled to the right. Big bridge, take your left hand over and slap your hand to the mat far over to your right, level with or above your shoulders. Then as you drop, pull your left elbow between your bodies and get the underhook.
In this and the following sweeps, you need to get on your side and crunch up as far down towards the opponent's legs as you can.
Crunch down and encircle your opponent's right leg with both arms and legs, in a "koala bear grip", like a koala hugging a tree trunk. The opponent should find it very difficult to get his leg out of your grip. Let him struggle, because you want him to bring his left shin up close to your hands. When he does, encircle his left shin and the right thigh you already have with both arms (use the usual thumbless palm-to-palm grip with your hands). Open your legs, both feet on the ground (JBW tries to get the balls of his feet on the ground for maximum height in his bridge) and bridge and roll him to your left, from where you can complete a pass.
Sweep 2 (really just a preliminary to sweep 3 and taught this way to illustrate a few points)
You have the underhook and have shimmied down toward his legs. Get a tight friction grip on his waist. Your feet are inside his leg (i.e. between his right and left legs). Use your left leg/heel to hook his right shin and lift it up and out to the left towards his butt, allowing you to slide your right leg out from under his right leg. (This move John calls the "snag and drag") .Now come to your knees and start to move up toward his back.
A few things may happen here:
1. He lies there and you get his back, choke him out
2. He feels threatened by your trying to take his back and rolls to his back to try and get guard (in a comp, this means a sweep and two points to you)
3. He pushes back to resist you taking his back - usually grabbing your torso with his right arm, or, if he is smarter, overhooking your left arm with his right and getting a wizzer. So you end up in a sort of sideways battle. What you would like to do here is stand up on your right foot and push him over his left shin onto his back, then pass. The problem is that he can thwart this by standing up on his left foot - a problem addressed in the next sweep.
A friction grip on his waist is better than grabbing the belt or gi - the gi allows too much room for him to move s the gi moves around his body.
In this sweep, we preemptively deal with the problem of his being able to post his left leg to stop us pushing him over with sweep 2.
We have the underhook and have shimmied down - we can get the koala grip as in sweep 1 if we want. We want to grab the TOES of his left foot with our right hand - our hand goes between his legs. Now snag and drag with your legs as before and go to your knees. Since you have his foot he cannot now use it to post and stop you pushing him over. You want to push him perpendicular to the direction of his left shin - it is a common mistake to push too much forward and thus limit the effectiveness of the push. Think of trying to put his left hip on the floor.
We grab the toes rather than the shin, partly because it is at the end of the lever and thus we get maximum leverage, but also because the toe and ankle joints add flexibility which make the grip more difficult to break. A grip on the shin is much easier for him to break than a grip on the toe.
Grabbing the toe or foot as in sweeps 1 and 3 also gives us an IA, "immediate action", to perform, which avoids the choice and indecision which might allow him to reorient.
The problem with sweep 3 is that our using our right hand to grab the toes of his left foot makes it difficult for us to get to our knees. We can get around this by, after grabbing his foot with our right hand, reaching around the back of his right thigh with our left hand, and passing his foot from our right to our left hand; our right arm is now freed up and we can post on the elbow and the hand in order to get to our knees easily.
To be able to reach around his thigh with the left hand, we must go as far down toward his feet as possible.The further we go, the easier it is.
If the opponent is smashing us down, and trying to flatten us out, preventing us from getting up on our right elbow, grab his left shin with your right hand (as well as the left) and rock him hard over to your left. If you are lucky he will fall over onto his back and you will be able to get top position. More likely is that he will post and resist, pushing back against the movement. Now roll him back the other way - this should give you the time and space you need to get up on your left elbow. From here go to your knees and push him over as before.
John calls this last bit the "rock 'n' roll".
He may post his left foot out wide so that you are unable to grab it no matter how low you go. If this happens, get the waist grip and come to your knees as before. Get up on both feet and your left hand - your left foot should be between his feet. Move your right instep/hook right into the joint behind his knee. Collapse onto your right side, pull him strongly over you to your left with your left arm, and use your right outside hook to complete the sweep - do not try to use the hook too early or the sweep will be difficult. Roll him, then use the hook. He should finish on his back with you taking the top position.
If he gets the underhook
Sometimes he will get the underhook, and you will be unable to regain it. In this case, he has oriented first in the OODA loop. If you stay in half guard, he will probably pass.
So - CHANGE GUARDS.
In John's last , he talked about the importance of hand position in each specific guard - if he is in your guard, you have a specific ideal hand position depending in the type of guard (Hooks-in, closed, half, etc.) in order to control him. Conversely, if you are in HIS guard, you will have hand positions for each guard type which will best allow you to pass that specific guard.
So each time someone pulls guard, there is a battle for hand position. But if and every time you CHANGE guards. you then have the opportunity to do-over the battle for hand position. So, if you lose the battle for hand position, CHANGE GUARDS.
If he has the underhook in your half guard, he has the superior hand position. But, the overhook you have, while worse than useless in half guard, would be ideal in hooks-in guard, as it is a perfect setup for a double hooking sweep to the overhooked side.
So - if he has the underhook in your half guard, CHANGE TO HOOKS-IN GUARD.
To do this:
Pinch his right foot between both of yours, and stretch his leg out. Move your right foot slightly on top of his, and insert your left hook under/inside his right knee.
VERY IMPORTANT - STICK the hook by shifting your hips and taking your left knee to the floor to your left. If you do not do this, the orientation of your foot makes it much easier for him to lift his leg off your hook, as your toes will b ointing in the same direction as you are lifting, so he can get off easily. Sticking the hook, however, changes the orientation of your foot inside his knee so that he cannot take it off in the direction you are lifting it.
Grab his pants at his right knee with your right hand, grab the gi fabricat his back with your left hand, and lift him up so that you can insert your right hook at his left knee - him struggling to get off your left hook will probably make this easier. Now you have both hooks in with an overhook - use your hooks to lift his legs up and sweep him to your left.
This technique was the subject of John's first lesson with JJ Machado, in response to John's question on how to get his legs working. Which it does very well. It was not until much later that he saw how it fitted into the "changing of the guard" concept.
Teaching half guard also helps develop the student's guard, as it forces them to get on their side.
We also had a brief conversation about competition training. John's view is that most people prepare for competition with lots of free rolling, which is not ideal, as you keep playing to your strengths.
He sets up a session by having, for example, four guys on their backs, with the rest in a line at the side of the mat. The first four guys on the line come in - one attempts to pass, the other to sweep. If a guy achieves his objective he gets off the mat and goes to the end of the line, and the guy at the head of the line takes his place.
Then you go head to head, with the objective being to achieve a dominant position.
side back control, etc. etc.
This gives everyone specific experience for specific situations.