BJJ Concepts: Why the Cross Face?

We covered half guard principles in yesterday's BJJ fundamentals session. Martyn focused on the bare essentials of success for both top and bottom and then we did a series of progressive resistance drills to experience it all in an alive manner. He actually made clear that showing any more passing details at this stage may confuse beginners and falsely encourage them to forget the essential set-up details and get lost in the intricacies of passing, only to get their backs taken or swept.

After the session, someone asked me about my previous post about just that, the bare minimums. I always get so chuffed when someone actually reads my stuff. The question was about why I gave the bottom player a priority that was something other than simply the opposite of the top player's, specifically for the half guard. To be exact, if I think that the minimum the top player needs to do is flatten her partner, why do I not simply recommend that the bottom player fights to stay on her side and off her back? Why do I instead recommend that they focus on fighting the cross face? Well, for number of reasons:

There are many ways to get flattened on the bottom and the cross face is one of the best so essentially you are fighting to stay on your side by fighting the cross face. Preventative action and all that jazz.

But also, I wanted to stress that sometimes it's ok to take a step back in order to jump two steps forward. When the top player tries to get the cross face to flatten you and fails, he can still flatten you with other tools (circle walk, far under-hook, near elbow control and more elaborate ones) but you, the bottom player, can recover from them much more reliably than from a well-placed cross face. Like Saulo says, you have to assept that sometimes the other guy is better than you or at least was earlier than you. So what's the first thing to recover from/protect against? The cross face.

What if we get flattened while fighting off the cross face? Assept that, then bridge and shrimp to turn back onto your side. Why can you get away with that simple move, because your face is NOT crossed!

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Jason said...


Very nice and I loved the "assept".

Jason -

The Part Time Grappler said...

Well, what can I say! It's all about choosing the momento.

The man is my God.

A.D. McClish said...

Yeah, I have a problem with getting flattened out in halfguard a lot of times. But I'm learning to weasel my way under them for sweeps. The worst is when someone locks me up and just squeezes, putting all their weight on me to keep me down. Grrr! I was in a grapple yesterday where the guy got to halfguard and went into lock-down mode. I had to hip out--or more accurately wiggle out--inch by inch. Frustrating!! :)