A fan of the half guard recently asked me how they could avoid getting caught in the Brabo choke:
“I like going for the foot grab sweep from half guard. My problem is that I always get caught in a guillotine choke or Brabo choke when I go for the leg of my opponent. What can I do to stop getting choked all the time?”
The first step of defending any technique is to understand the technique. Once you know how an attack yourself then your spider sense starts tingling when your opponent starts to set it up on you.
So it’s true that getting choked from the half guard is a legitimate concern. But that doesn’t mean that the half guard or the foot grab sweep is useless.
Every single position and technique has its vulnerabilities: if you throw a jab your opponent might slip it and counter with an uppercut, if you use the open guard your opponent might have an opportunity to footlock you, and if you use the half guard you have to watch out for the Brabo choke (aka the “D’Arce choke”).
The trick is to be aware of the potential dangers of a position and taking precautions to prevent the counterattacks!
So let’s get back to the half guard. In order to attack with the foot grab sweep you need to first secure the underhook with the top arm. BUT once you get the underhook you shouldn’t just hang out there.
The underhook is a means to an end, NOT an end in itself.
And a related mistake is to get the underhook and then start grabbing for your opponent’s foot. This is incorrect. To do it properly you first need to move down, down down.
You should have your ear resting on his hip and your face almost in *ahem* his crotch before you grab the foot and go for the sweep.
And if you’re down that far then it’s very hard for him to get his arms into position to choke you.
But let’s say that you screw up, give him the opening and he attacks with that darn Brabo choke. If you own it, I suggest you check out the series of defenses to this choke that I covered in my Dynamic Half Guard DVD.
If you don’t have that DVD then one simple Brabo defense is to throw yourself hard, flat on your back, BEFORE he finalizes his hand position. To avoid getting rolled he has to release and post his hands, which also gets you out of the choke.
With regards to the guillotine, the most likely time for your opponent to lock it on is once the sweep is already happening and he’s falling back onto his butt. So keep your awareness high at all times: if he slaps on a guillotine during the sweep, as he’s falling, then scramble to the correct side to counter the choke.
Hope this helps…