John Danaher – Go Further Faster – Half Guard – Notes v1

John Danaher Half Guard Flow Chart

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Below are my personal notes for John Danaher’s Half Guard Instructional. This should be used in conjunction with the flowchart.

General Introduction to Bottom Half Guard

  • Paradox of Half Guard
    • Good passing and sweeping position.
    • Paradox, passers may want to use half guard (i.e. stuffing the leg) to pass.
    • Whoever has the advantage, depends on the control of the head and shoulder of the person on the bottom. The guard player wants to deny head and shoulder control.
  • Central Problems
    • Battle for control of guard player’s head and shoulders.
    • When in chest to chest position, you lose ability to use legs to push, a problem for the guard player.
  • Advantages of playing half guard
    • 2 on 1 connections, using your both your legs and on their leg (deep half).
    • Can get underneath opponent’s centre of mass (deep half).
    • Cut opponent in half, focus 100% of your strength on 50% of their body.
    • Certain positions are moment away from taking the opponent’s back.
  • Main Concepts
    • Connection of the legs:
      • Inside hook (standard).
      • Outside hook, outside leg hooking the trapped leg, make sure your knee points to the ground. Two types:
        • Above the knee
        • Below the knee (at ankle)
      • Scorpion (lockdown)
        • Gives the bottom player the ability to push from bottom position
      • Half butterfly
        • If opponent’s hips are turned in, hook with butterfly hook to be able to elevate
    • Kuzushi
      • Good unbalancing if you can force your opponent to post their hands on the floor
      • Inside Kuzushi
        • If they are turned in, you can “windmill” where one arm blocks knee and the other arm can crossface and can sweep the opponent if they are unskilled. Else this can allow you to gain back an underhook and stop being flattened on the ground.
      • Knee Lever (Outside Kuzushi)
        • Both legs on outside, two big toes crossed, and bridge and roll outside, opponent defends or gets rolled, allows you to make space for the underhook and stop being flattened on the ground.
      • Butterfly Hook and Sweep
      • Scorpion Elevator (Overhead Kuzushi)
        • Lockdown Position
        • Two hands at ribs, push and bring both legs up into forwards position, opponent plants hand on ground and you rotate to get off bottom and get to underhook and stop being flattened on the ground.
    • Movements
      • Shrimping
      • Reverse Shrimping
      • Pendulum
      • Hip Heist
    • Want to prevent opponent from putting weight on you, pinning you on the floor with chest to chest contact
      • Knee Shield
        • Point knee to jaw, on sternum.
        • Cross grip on lapel to prevent them from going backwards, pull towards you.
        • Other hand monitors opponent’s arm, hand in elbow crook.
        • Can get the underhook on waist (tight waist grip), reach for far waist, use knee shield as pendulum, get on elbow with the other arm.
        • The underhook prevents pressure and crossface from opponent.
      • Arm propped position, tight waist (underhook) position
    • Alignment Issue
      • Pinning typically perpendicular position, more stable (side control)
      • Parallel position, more unstable
        • Half guard is a parallel position and guard player can take advantage for sweep
    • Grip Dominance
      • Player that has the nearside underhook is winning

Worse Case Scenarios

Smashed Half Guard

  • Opponent’s has gotten crossface, and underhooking your arm, and you have you back flattened. (Smashed Half Guard)
    • Only an elbow escape away from a good position
    • Single Elbow Escape Series
      • Hand on opponent open hip,
      • Elbow in front of opponent’s knee to act as frame
      • Turn knee to ground
      • Power shrimp (bridge and shrimp), connect knee and elbow frame
      • Put knee in front of hip
      • Shift hips underneath and extend (opponent’s cross face becomes a liability)
      • Options:
        • Shifts hips into closed guard, controlling opponent’s trapped arms
        • Sumi Gaeshi (Hook Sweep)
          • Trap opponent’s crossfacing arm
          • Foot end up hooking their knee and half butterfly (hook) sweep
          • Lifting close to you to makes the sweep easier and forces opponent to base out, non-hooking foot reach opponent’s leg and “scissors through” to sweep.
        • Shoulder Crunch Sumi Gaeshi
          • Gable grip on top of opponent’s shoulder
          • Shift get second foot into hooking position as well
          • Get knees to chest and begin sweep to the closed side (shoulder crunch side), if opponent bases can do same foot sweeping action as the normal
          • Alternate left and right between the two types of sumi if the opponent has good base
        • Scoop Half Butterfly (Deep Half)
          • If during the lifting action/sumi sweep, they free their arm and steps over tripping foot to defend
          • Underhook (scoop grip) on opponent’s leg (on non lifting side)
          • Put foot on the floor and use hook and underhook to push oppponent over/across you, get legs into reverse X guard position
          • Knock them down with legs
          • Your head is now higher than their hips
          • Stand up with their leg still on your shoulder
          • Options
            • If they are on floor pull ankle to sweep
            • If the stand up, circle behind them, and pick up their ankle to sweep
    • Double Elbow Escape
      • Starts similar to single, but instead of using arm to trap their arm, bring both to one side (same side as legs), knee on shoulder, shrimp out and trap other arm.
      • Elbow escape against leg
      • Push opponent’s knee back using your need, breaks his base and forces his arm to the ground to bas eout
      • Elbow escape against the arm
      • Get into clamping arm and should using legs clamp head and shoulders, can attack from there i.e. armbar, triangle, kimura etc
    • Half Elbow Escape Series
      • You want to put hand on open side on their hip elbow to their knee and single elbow escape, but opponent will turn knee in to prevent single elbow escape, shutting you down.
      • Get your elbow into inside position, on their hip, have to open legs to get there, make sure leg crossing in half preventing opponent escaping
      • Use other leg to shrimp away, scooting butt away. Elbow on their hip creates frame.
      • Knee turns down (to ground) to be able to fit through
      • Knee to knee (opponent’s)
      • Knee to elbow
      • Knee on opponent hip, taking away elbow
      • Use knee one hip to push way and open up to recover guard
    • Knee lever
      • Both feet on outside, toe on toe and bridge
      • Forces opponent to base and you can get underhook (tight waist grip)
      • Can be done in two stages if they have knee up and not on the ground.

Reverse Crossface (Ushiro Kesa Gatame)

  • When they have arm over the head and sits through, it is naturally strong
  • Reverse Elbow Escape
    • Make sure half guard triangle is locked above the knee
    • Get opponent’s knee to the mat, lever/pivot across
    • Grip tricep, or sleeve
    • Reverse elbow escape by pushing off the grip and away from opponent.
    • Prop onto elbow, put knee in front of hip, face opponent and get into butterfly guard
  • Half butterfly hook to butterfly guard
    • Don’t just open legs
    • Bring leg together above opponent’s knee, turn to open side
    • Get half butterfly hook, useother leg on top to prevent the leg from escaping
    • Post foot and shrimp
    • Move them with hook, bring other  knee up to get another hook and push and situp into butterfly guard
  • Knee lever
    • Pinch knees together above knee, roll and point knees to ground
    • Put both feet on calf and bridge to knee lever
    • Bring knees together and get into guard

Reverse Underhook (Ushiro Kuzure Kesa Gatame)

  • Opponent got into reverse kuzure kesa, with his arm underneath the armpit
  • Elbow Escape
    • Hook opponent legs to prevent him from kicking out
    • Headside hand reach gripping opponent’s belt
    • Get onto other arm elbow and turn down to make space
    • Slide leg through, keeping the knee in front of their hip
    • Can take back, head higher than their hips
    •  If the opponent is heavy and can’t get up on elbow
      • Get up to tripod, knees to floor, opponent will try to get back
      • You turn in to get back opponent back as they turn
  • Half Butterfly Hook Option
    • Get belt grip
    • Get top foot butterfly hooking their knee
    • Reverse shrimp with bottom foot and turn into that position with them over you
    • Normal shrimp and take back
  • Backroll Sweep Option
    • Get sleeve grip, push down
    • Get ankle pant grip, push down
    • Back roll to sweep, using legs as pendulum

Tight Waist (underhook/dogfight) Series

  • Option to get the underook
    • From smashed half guard
      • Knee lever
        • Pinch both legs on outside and lever
        • Before opponent comes back down, hand v-grips in his armpit
        • Use the space made to dig for underhook
      • Whip over
        • Bridge and whip arm against head, other arm against knee
        • Get head arm in front of their neck to frame
        • Use space made to rotate arm under for underhook
    • High Knee Shield
      • Hand on the opponent’s bicep to prevent cross face
      • Opponent pressures forward
      • Relieve pressure by the knee shield leg punching through whilst sitting up
      • Hand over own thigh follows throughs the leg punch to get udnerhook
    • Low Knee Shield
      • Cross frame across is on his far shoulder
      • Rotate under to get underhook

Tight Waist Series

  • Trilema
    • The roll through (deep half) sweep is a very powerful sweep
    • Opponent stops roll through sweep, attack the back
      • Duck under
      • Limp Arm
      • Cross Body Ride
    • Opponent stops roll through sweep and back attack, you can knee tap takedown
      • Ankle Picks
      • Single Leg
      • Reverse Double
      • Opponent drives into you to defend the knee tap, you then can use the roll through sweep
  • Most important half guard if you have underhook
  • Underhook across waist and propped up on elbow, outside leg hook
  • Roll Through Sweeps
    • Position lets you move underneath your opponent’s body weight
    • Opponent has strong whizzer, preventing you from capturing the far leg.
    • They apply pressure and you guys are parallel, meaning roll through sweeps are easy.
    • To start sweep, when you have tight waist and are propped on elbow
    • Outside leg put on inside and hooking his trapped leg turning it outside, into an unnatural position (knee tweak half guard).
    • Grab for inside pant grip at knee drop through and push.
      • Try to keep opponent’s knee bent at 90 degrees by curling your own heel back to your butt.
    • When you are on your back, don’t just try to push yourself up, shift body (shrimp), circle, to the outside to make it easy to get up. Details:
      • Lower leg shift. Top leg keeps trapping leg at weird leg, unlock bottom leg and pass it underneath, your scoop grip/inside pant grip should prevent them from using that leg to push and escape. Use now free bottom leg to reverse shrimp to roll through.
      • Knee lift. Use trapping top leg to lift opponent’s knee off the mat, lets your lower leg shift to move to reverse shrimp. Done by a small bridge and pushing hip up.
        • Opponent can put his knee on the ground to make it hard to knee lift. If they do that can lift yourself up and go for the back take. Opponent will have to whizzer to defend, if there is space, can use drop momentum to roll through again. If opponent plants their arm to defend, their knee has to be off then floor, then can use hip shift to finish the roll through.
        • When they have a strong whizzer, they might defend by base out on far leg, can turn hips across back (cross body ride) to take back.
      • Hip Shift. Use reverse shrimp and sliding shrimps to switch hips to sweep.
    • Opponents will realise that if they keep the whizzer, they will get swept. A smart opponent will switch between post and whizzer to prevent you from sweeping. Need to sweep into the direction of your elbow on their waist, pulling down, this should be able to sweep the opponent even if they are posting with both arms forward. As they can’t base in that direction, if they do you bridge him into the missing base.
    • Get on legs to finish sweep.
    • If you get stuck, halfway through, roll back in the other direction, and pull with your pant grip to finish sweep (knee tap)
    • If you can’t get up on your elbow to establish standard dog fight position, can get scoop grip (underhooking their leg) and roll through, get them into knee tweak position and sweep. Shoot body toward them to roll, reverse shrimp (walk underneath opponent) whilst keeping their leg bent.
    • If they are still whizzering can clamp over their over hook arm to prevent them from posting as you roll through.
  • Scoop Half Butterfly Series
    • Tight waist grip
    • Elbow deep scoop grip
    • Turn hips over, use top leg to pendulum get momentum (deep half). Make sure the opponent’s leg remains trapped with the bottom leg.
    • Now use outside leg (leg to opponent’s back) to hook leg (half butterfly) and lift and feed the other leg across, put outside leg foot at opponent’s ankle get into reverse x guard and sweep with opponent’s leg on your shoulder grip to stand up or knee tap
    • Other option, get deep half grip i.e. change scoop grip to the bottom leg, use outside to feed the foot across again. Use front foot to push through and get up, options:
      • Take the back
      • If you end up in front and double leg
      • Stand up whilst keeping hold, overhooking the leg, grab opponent’s lapel and the osoto gari the standing leg
  • Back take, duck under
    • If they don’t whizzer, usually from your pressure or other attacking position, you can come up and duck under and back take.
    • When you attack with the roll through sweep, they may post with hand (sound as indicator), you can get back up, using leg as pendulum and back take.
      • To prevent the opponent from regaining whizzer
        • Ensure you have strong tight waist
        • Pop up to get head out, whilst pulling with tight waist.
        • Get ear on opponent’s back.
        • This closes the space and prevents regaining whizzer
    • Limp Arm Method
      • Allows to take back even when they have whizzer
      • Other hand out on floor, fingers pointing out for strength
      • Heads moves away, move the whizzered arm and get shoulder lower than the opponent’s hand.
      • Rotate arm, limp arm and whip out
      • Back take
    • Tight waist grip and posted versus whizzer
      • Unhooked legs
        • Battle for knee position, the person with the front knee dominates
        • When coming up, use foot to push opponent’s knee back before coming up with knee to get dominate position
        • Option 1
          • Put knee in front of opponent’s knee, person who has the front knee usually dominates
          • Head above opponent’s
          • Use not whizzer arm to take overhook on opponent’s head
          • Use grips to turn opponent into the ground and into half nelson pin
        • Option 2
          • Put knee in front of opponent’s knee, person who has the front knee usually dominates
          • Head above opponent’s
          • Put other knee up and get body lock grip
          • Bring both knees down and mat return opponent
        • Option 3
          • Battle for the front knee
          • Don’t battle, get head in front of the opponent’s knee
          • Scoop outside the leg and reach for leg to get outside roll through to end up on top
          • If opponent bases out to prevent the roll through, can roll backwards into same position but then you gain front knee position for the other options
      • Hooked legs
        • When opponent sprawls, outside hook their leg (your outside leg), circle around towards the open side to finish take down. Makes it easy to takedown.
        • When coming up, opponent will try to kneeslide, to block opponent’s knee with your knee once up
        • Double Leg
          • Tight waist hand to opponent’s toes, other hand to knee
            • Other option if the opponents bases up on their foot is to grab the inside pants grip, palm up. Pull for double leg.
          • Smother the knee and cover with elbow and circle to finish.
          • If you can grab your opponent’s wrist, pass opponent’s wrist to tight waist hand.
            • Tripod up, pressure and smash legs togther and pass guard to finish sweep
        • Reverse Double Leg
          • Can’t get knee in front
          • Move whizzered arm backwards and scoop the trapped leg from behind
          • Tripod and force opponent’s second leg down
          • Switch arms, back arm goes to opponent’s far ankle to get him down, if they got up, go to knee. Don’t got back to the waist as they will have a strong whizzer. Front take the near leg.
          • Rotate hips and take back
        • Stepping Around the Whizzer
          • Turn hips in
          • Step legs around behind oppoennt, ensure hips aren’t above opponent’s or you will be thrown.
          • Get far hook and take back

Lapel Single Leg Series

  • The lapel is a force multiplier
  • Instead of gripping your own hand in single leg, grip the lapel through their legs instead
  • The lapel grip is a hard grip to break, and frees up second hand
  • Negates effect of a whizzer
    • Keep hand below the buttocks
  • Grip at knee to pull them in, force multiplier
  • Get underhook, pass lapel to underhooking hand
    • Can be done by faking a roll through, and use that to get up into lapel single leg
  • Pull knee grip or hook behind the back of the near leg
  • If opponent sprawls leg away, turn in head to far hip where you threaten the cut back
  • General Consideration on Posture for Half Guard Sweep
    • Keep chest and head up to maintain structure to prevent opponent from pressing you
    • Carry opponent’s weight using structure
    • If broken down, hand on floor tripod (asymmetrical) up and then circle around behind the opponent, grab the far leg from behind to get on top
    • Don’t grab waist, opponent can grab whizzer and flatten you

Knee Lever Series

  • Can be used when neither has underhook
  • From tight waist grip
    • Pull arm back and lock opponent’s arm hand to hand
    • Grip lapel and pull in
    • Put both legs on outside, cross legs at two and bridge and lever over
  • They are postured up
    • Grab cross sleeve and back of elbow grip
    • Pull opponent in.
    • Put both legs on outside, cross toes on leg and bridge and lever over
  • Same as before except you pull in and swap behind elbow grip for back grip to the lat
  • Opponent has whizzer
    • Pull opponent in, clamp their over their whizzer and then knee lever
  • From smashed half guard
    • Force opponent to knee on the ground with inside leg
    • Knee lever to force them to backstep
    • Put knee to chest, when opponent recovers guard he recovers into the butterfly hook
    • You  are still trapping your opponent’s arm, they will recover and you can swipe their leg away with other leg and sumi gaeshi
  • From Knee Shield Guard
    • Get spider grips, pull opponents arms over to centerline
    • Knee lever when they pull back
    • Release grip and get on elbow, opponent will try and get up as well
    • Person who gets hips up first will win
    • Hand on their hip and rotate to get hips higher
    • Can use wrist grips instead
      • Get scoop grip
      • Knee lever

Backroll Sweep

  • From knee shield, spider grip opponent’s open side hand, and push hand into core.
  • Other hand in collar
    • Push into opponent, release opponent
    • Get perpendicular to opponent
    • Push and roll opponent over the top of you
    • Your spider grip prevents opponent from basing on that side
  • If opponent gets chest to chest but you still have spider grip, i.e they have underhook but you don’t have knee shield
    • Grip belt of opponent over their back, with head to the opponent’s open side
    • Pull and your swing legs and then roll backwards for sweep into half guard
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