One of the reasons I struggled in the absolutes at the Manchester Open was that whilst I was able to pull half guard, and usually win the underhook, I then had difficultly proceeding from there. This was especially true in my last match against Oyinda. I had several opportunities to come up from my half guard, but my basing was weak, so ended up being pushed down to the mat.
So, I went back to work.
Michael and I have worked on my basing and finding the correct angle when doing so. This is so so important – if you find the correct angle, even someone who is nearly twice my weight will have to work to crush me down. My structures will keep me safe for the insane that I need them to. One thing that stuck me with me amongst everything he said, is that because I am little, I can’t afford massive movements against someone who is bigger than me. Any movement that isn’t done carefully and by inches will be exploited. So I’ve been working on how, once I’ve got the underhook, to move around the waist and into a better position slowly, steadily, but with strength.
Having said all of the above, one of the key things to do with securing the underhook in the first place is speed. Once it’s secured then you need to slow, take stock and adjust, but initially getting it requires a certain amount of pace. Last night I was training with Michael and if he managed to get the underhook there was no way I was getting mine back, so therefore I had to get in there first. That doesn’t mean be rash. It just means be purposeful with movement.
As I’ve said in the previous posts, half guard is a very powerful position, favoured by many of the world’s top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players. There is so much that can be achieved from the position, including regular (and yet highly successful) sweeps, to more complex and intricate submissions such as leg locks, kimura’s and chokes. I think one of the reason’s the position appeals to me so much is:
- It’s an extremely strong position from which to attack, either on the top or bottom (although this post is focusing on half guard bottom).
- It’s transferable – if something doesn’t work, you can return to position and try again.
- It works for little people. There are some moves/techniques in BJJ where it seems that brute strength is required (although it’s supposed to not be the case), but half guard feels like a position that, no matter how small you are, you can beat anyone as long as your game is exactly on point.
So, until the next post on half-guard, and I can guarantee there will be one…