Details of the foot grab sweep – Half guard notes week 3

Last week focussed on gaining good positioning. With good positioning, sweeping becomes easy. The aim of this week is to introduce the most common (and hence easy to apply) half guard sweeps. The next two months will be spent on dismantling our opponent’s counters so we can perform these sweeps.

A note for those interested in instructing. The details below are listed in sequential order for ease of reference, but you will remember that I did not introduced them in this order in class. Research backward chaining.

The sweeping game:

  • Once the bottom player has good head positioning, she needs to move her head down to the hips/belly of her opponent so she can control his centre of mass. She uses her arms and outside leg to simultaneously pull her opponent upwards towards her head as she shuffles herself down towards his feet. She can now hug his hips/belly to control his centre of mass.
  • Even with his centre of mass controlled, the top player can still move by pushing with his feet on the mat. The bottom player attempts to grab his far foot (at the toes) and pin it to his butt. This will greatly reduce his movement as he can no longer push off this foot. If the top player prevents the foot grab by extending his foot he has reduced his own movement which is exactly what the bottom player wants.
  • With the top player’s movement reduced, the bottom player will attempt to turn to her knees to build her base. To do this she needs to scissor her legs. Her outside leg steps over her opponent’s trapped leg and her heel hooks into his instep. She can now lift his foot off the mat so only his knee is in contact with the mat. It is easy for her to now straighten her bottom leg and pass it under her opponent’s trapped leg.
  • With her legs scissored and belly facing downwards, it is easy to come to her knees and drive her opponent to his back or side. She keeps the foot control until she has established a solid top control.
  • Sometimes the top player puts his body weight on the bottom player and she isn’t able to come to her knees. She uses this opportunity to grab his knee so she has one hand grabbing his foot and the other hand holding the knee of his same leg. Now the top player is trapped with his bodyweight balanced on the bottom player. The bottom player can now rotate her body away from him to tip him to the other side. If she can’t roll him completely over because he is basing with his hands or is just too heavy, she can reverse the direction of the roll and the top player’s weight will fall off her so she can go back to attempting to turn to her knees.

There were a lot of details in this sweeping game and these will be repeated in the coming weeks to ensure that everyone is comfortable with this game. The main takeaway is to understand that once you have controlled the centre of mass and the foot, you attempt to turn to your knees to come on top. If you have can’t turn to your knees it means your opponent is preventing it with his body weight. This gives you an opportunity to reverse direction and roll him over your body. If you have difficulty you go back to attempting to turn to your knees. You continue this back and forth game until you end up in the top position.

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