To Half Guard or Not To Half Guard

The choices we make are a direct reflection of our values.

Choices are exclusionary. By deciding to do one thing and taking action toward that end, all other options in that moment no longer exist. Each choice we make says a lot about who we are, how we think, and what we value. This is especially true under pressure and stress. How we react under the weight of difficult circumstances is the essence of our character. The beauty of martial art training is that it can be a sort of choose-your-own-adventure of personal development, in regards to both skill and character.

Take the half-guard position in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for example. When a person finds his or herself in the bottom half-guard position, he or she must make some choices. One person might choose to defend and to wait for the opportunity to sweep his or her opponent. Another person might attempt to recover full guard. Someone else might choose to fight from bottom half guard, locking the top person into the position. Another option would be to fully commit to the position, diving into deep half guard and going for broke. These are all good choices relative to one’s individual particular goals, whether they be immediate or longterm, for sport, self defense, or just to have fun.

In the example shown here, Billy teaches Donny how to use the so-called coyote guard option popularized by BJJ black belt world champion in both gi and nogi, Lucas Leite. The coyote guard is a powerful bottom half-guard position that works well against both smaller and larger opponents by setting up a variety of sweeps to gain top position or escapes to get back to the feet. The coyote guard is especially effective for a person who does not want to stay on the bottom and who wants to get out of danger quickly and safely. In order to accomplish this, the practitioner must consciously abandon all other options and commit to this path, accepting the results of that decision come what may.

-Robert Van Valkenburgh teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Kogen Dojo

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