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Passing Half Guard With Kayla Harrison

Passing Half Guard With Kayla Harrison

We all know that feeling of thinking we’re about to pass someone’s guard only to find that we’re now in half guard and our progress is grinding to a halt. Who better to teach us how to quickly move past our opponents half guard game than the first American to win Gold at the Olympics for Judo not only once but twice, Kayla Harrison?

Judo competition is known for giving Judoka very little time on the ground without making positive progress and this really puts pressure on Judoka to apply a lot of forward movement for pins and submissions on the ground. 

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Kayla begins with her opponent quickly scissoring their legs to keep her in half guard so that the back of Kayla’s opponents knee is on the inside of her thigh and the back of their calf is against the back of Kayla’s thigh, which creates an ‘L’ shape. The opponents other leg then closes this ‘L’ by hooking the heel of their other leg over the shin of the leg creating an ‘L’, which traps Kayla’s remaining leg in half guard. 

Once Kayla’s opponents legs are scissored she can no longer split their legs as they are mechanically reinforced, so she has to use another strategy. Kayla brings her arm that’s on the same side of the trapped leg to an underhook position and then past her opponents shoulder to create a basing frame with her hand against the floor. Kayla’s opposite shoulder is going to drive forward into her opponents chin to move his head towards the hand that is basing. Without this basing hand Kayla’s opponent can scoop and roll her to reverse the ground game so that Kayla is on the bottom. Once this control has been established Kayla raises her hips up to drive her body weight into her opponent to immobilise their head and shoulder. 

Once Kayla has this elevation of her hips and positive control of her opponents head and shoulder the knee of her trapped leg should now be clear of the leg scissors that her opponent used to keep Kayla in their half guard. Once Kayla’s knee is past she steps out to the side with her other leg and drives the knee of the trapped leg down hard towards the leg that stepped to the side, towards the outside of her opponents hip. From here the leg that stepped out is free to push the opponents leg free and Kayla’s trapped leg is now free, leaving her in a dominant side control position

Here Kayla explains a crucial detail. It’s very important that your opponents face is pointed to the opposite side of the trapped leg so that when you step to the side and bring your opponents legs to the side they are going in the opposite direction to your opponents head. Taking your opponents head in one direction and their legs in another breaks our opponents posture and line of power through their body by forcing their spine into a spiralling shape, which it very much doesn’t like to be in! If we take the legs and head in the same direction we are pushing our opponent towards a shrimping position (ebi in Japanese) and therefore giving them power to maneuver against us or keep our leg trapped in half guard. 

The second variation is against an opponent that doesn’t only scissor their legs but instead double locks their legs to really close their half guard in on us. The difference between this and the first scissor in half guard is that our opponent has now ‘grapevined’ their foot on our foot, which stops us pulling our knee past our opponents groin and therefore blocks the first half guard pass Kayla demonstrated. 

To get around this double lock Kayla changes direction and now takes her arm on the same side as her trapped leg over her opponents head and presses her elbow into the side of her opponents ear to control their head. From her Kayla steps her free leg over her opponents leg so that she ends up facing away from them in something similar to an incomplete reverse scarf hold (Ushiro Kesa Gatame) with her leg still trapped. 

From here Kayla now has access to her opponents arm, which she begins to control by looping under the tricep and gaining wrist control as in the beginning of Ude-garame, also known as the Kimura lock. If there is Judogi material available this can be used to wrap the wrist. With our other free hand we grab the gi pants at our opponents knee and pull upwards with our hand while kicking away with our free leg to release our trapped leg

Finishing this guard pass Kyala is now in a strong side control, which she reinforces by keeping active feet and pressing her bottom knee into her opponents back to stop him moving and her top leg presses down into the floor to apply pressure into the opponents body. This side control leaves us in a powerful position to either wear our opponent down with crushing top pressure or keep the momentum of our attacks for dominant joint locks and strangles.

The Real Judo Chop and Other Favorites by Kayla Harrison
Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison is ready to show you the techniques that helped her become one of the most accomplished combat athletes on the planet! The Real Judo Chop and Other Favorites by Kayla Harrison will increase your success rate with throws, grips, and submissions! Check It out!