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Artechoke in a Can: Half Guard Survival

I apologize if I seem a bit out of it in this week’s videos. I had a pretty serious sinus infection and was loaded up on medicine.

This week, before we get to exploring the variety of options available in half guard (specifically for no-gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), we explore half guard survival. Because half guard can be a very frustrating position to work from if your opponent is beginning to rack up positional advantages, I wanted to give my students a breakdown of their options for when things go pear-shaped.

The first technique is a dumb little move that I developed after years of being frustrated by the turn to toward the hips half guard pass. When I first learned this pass, Reagan Penn called it the “unstoppable pass” because your options for defending and countering the pass are few.

I call this little move the Kansas City Shuffle, after one of my favorite movies Lucky Number Slevin. The key to this movement is to keep your feet attached to the mat to optimize your leverage and to do it quickly. If you hang out in the KC Shuff position, you will get passed. Slap your knees to one side, and then slap to the other before immediately shrimping away to create space.

The other scenario you are likely to encounter is your opponent establishing head and arm control, usually to set up the cross knee pass. With your upper body controlled, your next best option is to use what mobility you have in your lower body to start undoing the damage that’s been done. In this first video, we talk about setting the butterfly hook from here and the importance of footwork in doing so.

In this next video, we look at using that half guard butterfly to create space. You can sometimes jump right into the butterfly sweep from here, but that’s a more advanced application of the position. For now, you’re better off mastering the sit up technique so that you can develop your ability to control and manipulate your opponent with a half guard butterfly.

For our final technique, we run through some last-minute options for fighting out of a bad half guard position. These are your last resort options as they come into play when things have gotten especially bad, and please forgive me for phasing out a bit in this video. Again, lots of medicine.

With three weeks of half guard techniques under our belts, we are going to spend next week doing movement drills to ingrain these concepts into your brains, making them more natural and more instinctual.

Artechoke in a Can is the online version of Marshal D. Carper’s weekly no-gi class. Marshal is a purple belt under Sonny Achille at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he is the author of The Cauliflower Chronicles and Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.

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