Riz's Martial Arts Training

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Introduction to Half Guard: The Lockdown

Half Guard is a very common position in BJJ, especially for beginners who have not yet developed a solid Closed Guard and as a result are often passed. The position itself is simply this: 'when you trap one of your opponent's legs between your own'.

Traditionally, the Half Guard was considered an inferior position in which you are one step away from having your entire guard passed. However, views on the position have changed considerably as more and more practitioners have shown the offensive potential associated with the position.

The Lockdown

The 'Lockdown' is a Half Guard position made popular in recent years by Eddie Bravo. Typically, the position leads to various sweeping options though it does offer some submission possibilities as well. It is also one of the tightest Half Guard techniques possible in my opinion - great for preventing your opponent from passing into Side Control or the Mount. 

The technique itself is simple:

1) Step over and trap your opponent’s leg with your outside leg.  

2) Hook your outside leg's foot into the pit of your inside leg's knee.

3) Hook your inside leg's foot under your opponent's leg.

Key Points to Remember:

  • You can stretch out the Lockdown to help break your opponent's posture.
  • Keep your opponent's posture broken down using over/under hooks (double under hooks to best utilise the Lockdown’s sweeps), otherwise you are open to an Indian Death Lock counter as well as a ground n pound when striking is permitted.
  • Squeeze your knees together to keep the position tight.

Common Mistakes:

  • There's no need to constantly stretch out the lockdown. True, it frustrates your opponent but it tires you out needlessly (since you're not gaining any ground) and makes the 'Whip Up' to your side a lot harder (Try holding and dialling your mobile phone using only one hand whilst keeping your fingers stretched out to see what I mean).
  • Don’t start camping - Keep your game active. If you feel pinned to the ground, try grinding your knuckles into your opponent’s ribs to make some space (but only just enough for you to turn on to your side and begin working sweeps/submissions!).

Half Guard is a position I'm very familiar with - it's a rare occurrence when I don't transition through Half Guard during a roll (I find it easier to escape to Half Guard when mounted than to sweep my opponent; it's also a lot more comfortable than trying to lock my full guard against someone with a big waist!). Though getting double under hooks came to me quickly, performing a successful Whip Up was a whole other story - I think I must have stalled using the Lockdown for a month before the Whip Up started working for me.

Whenever the Whip Up isn't working for me, I usually look towards establishing a butterfly hook or, (if there's enough space) transitioning back into full guard.

Don’t fall into the Lockdown campsite method – Keep active, there's good reason Half Guard was considered an inferior position for so long! Even if you feel pinned - do something... anything! Try switching from Lockdown to its calf-crushing (even though it’s traditionally an ankle lock) Judo cousin 'Ashi Kannuki' (just mirror the position of your legs - inside leg traps opponents leg etc).

Another problem that can occur is when someone diagonally mounts you from the half guard (as seen in the photo example). In this situation you can attempt a submission via Arm Triangle or, you can release the Lockdown, and revert to some basic BJJ bridging escapes (I find the latter to have a higher success rate).

Next Step: The Whip Up


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