BJJ / Grappling Tips: How to recover the underhook and pass half guard. A Part Time Grappler Approach

Last night's session at the Labs BJJ Fundamentals was on passing the half guard. There is nothing special or unique about the techniques I use or recommend to control and pass the half guard in BJJ. What is different is that I try to stick to one (maybe 2) techniques to pass with. Instead of learning more and more ways to pass the half guard when people try to block my pass, I try to learn better technical details to make the pass smoother or alternatively more ways that can bring me back to that particular way to pass the half guard. If you're not sure why I do this (apart from the obvious "I'm lazy!" please see my previous post on building a BJJ competition game plan)

The pass I favour is the traditional half guard pass with the underhook, sometimes called the "tripod", "escrima" or "esgrima" as demonstrated below*:

As you can see, to make this work, I need the far underhook. If I don't have it, I will pummel for it, but if they have a better and deeper underhook, I can lose that pummel and suddenly find myself in a very shaky position where they can either take my back from the half guard or sweep me.

What I do in that situation is use a technique I learned from two Royler Gracie black belts: my good friend Mr Eddie Kone who taught it in a seminar at his affiliate in Sheffield and the fantastic Saulo Ribeiro thru his series Freestyle Revolution (the no-gi series). There are small differences in how the two black belts show the technique to recover the underhook from the half guard top, as you will see below, but generally, it's the same technique:

You're late. Your opponent has got the underhook

Bring your whole upper body weight back and collapse it on their wrist to kill the underhook

Put your far hand into their armpit and point the elbow towards their face. This will prevent them from sitting up into you

Release a little bit of pressue on the wrist and re-pummel your hand in for the underhook

Get yourself a nice deep** underhook
How does Saulo's method differ from Eddie's? Well, not by much. He puts the the far arm a little bit deeper into the armpit and (at least not on the video) doesn't seem to use the elbow-towards-the-face part. I asked Eddie about another slight variation between his and Saulo's (slightly different Ko uchi throw) and he simply said "I'm not Saulo. I can't get aways with some of the things he can do :)"

Here's a video of Saulo showing the same technique, courtesy of World Martial Arts & Ground Fighter

In case you have more time and want to see another awesome Half Guard Video, check out this gem by Indrek Reiland and Jorgen Matsi. This should teach you most of what you'll ever need to know about the half guard in BJJ / Grappling (which is why it's a longer video)


*I like to keep my legs closely hugging their leg to prevent them quickly whipping their leg out and going to full guard from half guard or using the hook to sweep me.

**How deep? Who knows. Ask Mike :)

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don_barr said...

Right, this is very cool. Now I almost didn't miss class!

Megan said...

Great post...I just started seriously looking at the half and this=very useful.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thank you both for the very kind words :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

@Don, I can't believe you missed it! I taught secret tips and everything! :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

@Meg, half guard is very in your face! You can train jiu jitsu for years and maybe never really need to deal with the back, the butterfly guard or even sometimes mount (if it's not a preferance at your academy) but the half guard imposes itself on you the whole time (top and bottom)

don_barr said...

In the words of Han Solo, It's not my fault!