Tips for the Half Guard Lockdown

What is half guard lockdown and why do we use it?

Guard passing can be a nightmare at the best of times, but when a lockdown is added onto half guard it can seem a losing battle – especially if you’re not confident with half guard lockdown escapes. Your half guard escapes seem to no longer work once a lockdown has been added on, so this article will go through a few tips for both opponents when it comes to the half guard lockdown to hopefully help better your half guard lockdown game. The point of the half guard lockdown is exactly that – to lock you down in place. Once you’re all secure and have nowhere to go, the opponent can start working on attacks.

The lockdown was popularised by 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo, who strived to make the half guard position even more powerful and difficult to escape. From this position came a number of sweeps and submissions, most notoriously – the electric chair. The way the legs are intertwined prevents the opponent from being able to put their full weight on you, and makes it increasingly more difficult to pass your guard than just holding your opponent in a standard half guard position. In addition to locking their leg down, getting both underhooks allows you to be able to manipulate your partner’s weight easier giving you a lot more control and ease over your opponent.

Tips for the person on the bottom

To help keep your lockdown, or help to progress it into a sweep or submission there are plenty of things you can do. Electric chair being one submission you can grab from this position. The video below shows how to submit with the electric chair, how to transition into a toe hold and how to end up in a dominant position if the submission isn’t on.

Half guard lockdown is a great dominant position to be in when you’re rolling, as there are a lot of transitions you can make. For example, you can unlock the lockdown and begin to take the back, you can go back to a knee shield and then into closed guard. Half guard is a great way to play about with your opponent, and the lockdown also gives you time to figure out your next move.

For some sweeps from the half guard lockdown, Evo BJJ has a great video going through some basic yet effective sweeps from half guard lockdown, and how to defend your opponents whizzer when you have your underhook.

Tips for the opponent on top

Half guard lockdown can be a real nasty position to be stuck in, especially when you struggle to defend it. There are quite a few effective escapes from this lockdown though, and there’s a few simple tips to remember that will help your game when caught in half guard lockdown. The more you pull, the tighter and more uncomfortable it can be. The lock itself can create tremendous pressure on the calf in the vein of a calf slicer and could potentially submit an opponent because it can be so painful.

You may find yourself being able to kick out of the lockdown, but for the skilled lockdown fighter they will only trap you again. In the video below, 5 time world champion Bernardo Faria, himself a half guard master shows an amazingly simple technique for getting yourself free of that pesky lock down.

What should you be wary of from the lockdown? Well, first and foremost the position of your hips. The higher your hips end up on the opponent’s body, the worse position you’re in. Moreover, you need to be careful of your free leg. Once the opponent gets an underhook with their arm on it, you’re practically past the point of no return and you’ll get swept with the electric chair.

Your hips must never cross the hip line of your opponent. If they do, your primary and immediate task is to get back as low as possible. You can also stay safe from the lockdown by keeping our knee up close to your partner’s hips. Whilst in the lockdown, try to stay as still as possible, and make minimal movements. The thing with the lockdown, is that attacks are hard if you’re doing nothing.

BJJ Universe states that the main things to remember if you ever get caught in this tricky position is move your torso down towards your feet as that will release some of the tension of the lockdown. Like mentioned earlier, your hips must never cross the line of your opponent. If you move your torso towards your partner in order to pass, you will worsen the position and consequently make the lockdown more painful. The second thing to remember is when you free your leg, switch your hips and put your leg on the floor to prevent your opponent from being able to hook your leg again, and then you can work your way out from standard half guard instead of fighting the battle of the half guard lockdown.

Lucy Wynne

BJJ Purple Belt living in, London, England. I began training BJJ back in 2017, when I was at university, and have trained ever since. #OSS Instagram: @journowynne

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