11 Jan 2015

Review - DVD: Ryan Hall, The Deep Half Guard

The deep half guard is a bottom game position that places you directly beneath the opponent's centre of gravity. By securing your body to one of his legs, it creates a deep instability in his position that will allow you to sweep the opponent with, in theory, a high percentage of success. To novices, it seems counterintuitive to place ones body position in such a seemingly prone manner, but this instruction set quickly reveals the strengths and advantages to using deep half guard.

Ryan Hall explains each chapter with an incredible amount of detail. The entire first disc covers entries to the deep half (which he suggests is not covered as adequately in other instructionals). Disc two covers the actual deep half position in further detail along with sweeps and passes. Disc three continues disc two with somewhat more advanced situations, especially when under pressure.  Throughout, Ryan's familiar high verbal output (ie he talks a lot) will arm the viewer with a firm understanding of the concepts behind an effective deep half position which should ultimately lead to a higher percentage success rate. I enjoyed this set a lot and it helped me overcome my own deep half guard phobias.

Available to purchase from the Ground Fighter website.
Cost - $124.99
Length -  (disc one 1hr 30min / disc two 1hr 51 / disc three 1hr 23mins)

I have no business or personal connection to the producers of this product. I bought this DVD box set directly from the ground fighter website.

The deep half guard is one of those positions I always felt was just beyond my reach. It is a position my instructor has covered in class many times. He teaches it well and has even used it at black belt level in tournaments with great success. But I'm just too thick to make it work during regular sparring. To be honest, I found I couldn't even get into the position in the first place, and I play guard a lot. I hoped Ryan's set here would (a) convince me that deep half guard was still worth pursuing and (b) arm me with the information I needed to help me add it to my game.

Before I write about each disc, here is a video showing Ryan using the deep half guard in (fast) action (2min 44 and then attempted at several points throughout the match). It is clear from this match that Ryan uses it in an attempt to execute his favoured 'waiter sweep'. He'll also play inverted guard (see my Ryan Hall Inverted Guard review), 50/50 position, triangles and any one of a number of his trademark techniques with almost effortless ease, switching from position to position.

Disc One - Deep Half Entries
This disc covers an introduction to the deep half and immediately Ryan explains the main obstacle for most who attempt to try this technique (including me) - the seemingly high difficulty with entering the deep half position. Drilling it is fine, but in sparring, most opponents simpy do not open up and welcome you in as you dive into the position. Often, as you attempt to enter the position, a number of danger points becomes apparent. Ryan breaks these problem areas down one by one. While doing so, he offers tantalising glimpses on disc one, of the cool sweeps and transitions one can use from deep half.

Here is the chapter breakdown:
1. Deep Half Intro 2. Hip Escapes 3. Basing Out 4. The Hip Shovel 5. The Shoulder Roll 6. The Inversion 7. Hip Shovel Drill 8. Spine & Neck Position 9. Arm & Leg Position 10. Hand & Grip Fighting 11. Controlling Inside Space 12. Controlling the Distance 13. The High Underhook 14. The Low Underhook 15. Combining Techniques 16. Creating Traps 17. The Shovel 18. The Knee Torque 19. Sitting Guard Entry 20. Reverse De la Riva Entry 21. De la Riva Entry 22. Shaolin Sweep Entry

The video below is the official trailer to Disc one from the publisher:

Notable highlights:
Pretty much the entire first disc is essential viewing. Each of the entries Ryan shows are things that crop up regularly in sparring so it's useful to be familiar with all of them. But of the entries shown, I really liked the sitting guard entry (photo below) - that shin to shin contact really helps elevate the opponent's leg high, allowed your body to swing straight into the DHG. It's fair to say however, that most of the entries rely on a fairly comfortable familiarity with an open half guard position to start with.

Sitting guard entry to deep half

At this stage it's worth noting that the DVD is excellently produced. No fancy gimmicks, no crazy sound effects or grinding music, no tedious replays, just pure instruction within a plain but well lit studio. Once you have watched it all the way through and heard what Ryan has to say however, in order to skip through the bits where Ryan talks for ages and ages, the fast forward button comes in handy.

Disc Two - Deep Half Attacks
This disc is what I would call the money disc. It's the disc that makes the deep half what it is - a superb system for sweeping an opponent irrespective of size. In theory at least, assuming the fundamental entries from disc one have been established, disc two now showcases the whole point of using deep half. But before Ryan kicks off the sweeps, he opens up with a summary of the concepts discussed in Disc 1. I found that very handy.

Here is the chapter breakdown:
1. Overview of Entries and Control 2. The Opponents Goals 3. Maintaining the Deep Half 4. The Over Unders Pass 5. The Over Unders Switch 6. The Double Unders Pass 7. Over Unders to Double Unders 8. The Leg Lever Principle 9. The Leg Lever to Back Position 10. The Off Balance Principle 11. Cat & Yarn Principle 12. Leg Lever to Back 1 13. Leg Lever to Back 2 14. Leg Lever to Back 3 15. Leg Lever to Back 4 16. Path of Least Resistance Drill 17. Double Lapel Sweep 18. Double Lapel Sweep to Back 19. Waiter Sweep Theory 1 20. Waiter Sweep Theory 2 21. Waiter Sweep Pass to Left 22. Waiter Sweep Pass to Right 23. Waiter Sweep to Back 24. Waiter Sweep to the Front 25. Waiter Sweep with Rolling Back Attack 26. Arm Control Variation

If I were to pick out two highlights from Disc two, it would be the Over-Under pass and the Waiter sweep. These two techs just follow on really smoothly from the deep half guard position that they are pretty straightforward to execute, assuming the principles on disc one are adhered to. From a conceptual point of view, Ryan's emphasis on the 'leg lever principle' is what pins all these sweeps and passes together when playing deep half guard. Although Ryan dedicates a few chapters to actual guard passing, it's probably worth referring to his actual Passing the guard DVD set to gain the most from this section. Similarly, Ryan's Back Attacks DVD would be worth referencing too as many of the sweeps and passes lend themselves to this position.

Waiter sweep

Disc Three - Advanced Deep Half Attacks
I usually don't get as far as last disc of box set instructionals. I already have what I need for the time being with discs one and two. Ryan himself describes disc three saying this is the advanced portion of the set. But deep half intrigues me so I was keen to see what one could do with it at the 'advanced' level.

Here is the chapter breakdown:
1. The Art of Transitioning 2. The Armdrag 3. Stomping Armdrag 4. Leg Lasso to Armdrag 5. Armdrag Defensive Counters 6. The Duck Under 7. The Jedi Mind Trick 8. Float to Jedi Mind Trick 9. Armdrag to Jedi Mind Trick 10. Jedi Mind Trick to Deep Half 11. The Twist Sweep 12. Twist Sweep to Duck Under 13. Twist Sweep to Deep Half 14. Twist Sweep to Armdrag 15. Half Guard Smash 16. The Underhook 17. The Knee slice 18. The Over Under Pass

Disc three is a worthy final segment to the set. Although it is supposed to be 'advanced' it is only so by virture of the fact that it requires the viewer to explore the concepts on discs 1 and 2 in further detail. Any player will know that jiu jitsu is more than just a series of robotic moves from A to B. It's a heck of lot more variable than the route one approach. Ryan uses disc three to show how fluid the deep half guard can be, or rather, how one should utilise it when it becomes a regular part of the ebb and flow of the player's rolling experience.

Keen eyed viewers observing the track listing will be immediately drawn to the chapter intriguingly titled 'Jedi Mind Trick'. I know I did!
It's actually a cool method of defending against the knee slice pass. Ryan takes it further and shows how to counter swiftly into a back position. Subsequent chapters uses the Jedi Mind Trick with deep half guard.

Jedi mind trickery
Towards the latter half of disc 3, Ryan covers some very useful techniques when under intense pressure. I liked the twist sweep, which seemed a practical solution to situations when flattened out attempting normal half guard.

Rolling performace
I think with me, attempting deep half guard is more a mental battle as much as a physical one. In both cases, this DVD set really helped me a lot. With the conceptual explanations given by Ryan, I was able to understand the how, and the why of deep half guard. As a mainly guard player myself, I knew it was something I should explore further and this set has gave me the confidence and the tools to go for it more.

During sparring, I realised that random openings with which I could move in to deep half were rare indeed - expecially against my canny blue belt and higher ranked training partners. I now know this is normal and hence disc one provided the information I needed to at least try to instigate my own deep half entry. Crucially, while sparring, the main thought in my mind was the need to lift my opponent's leg off the ground. Prior to this I am not sure this was something I focused on, hence my low success rate. Having entered deep half, by making the leg lever my principle aim, I was able to do much more when in deep half.

I'm far from remotely proficient with deep half, but that's better than never trying it at all. Thanks to Ryan, I am able to explore it a lot more and, perhaps more usefully, add it to my game where I like top play various other half and open guard positions.

Ryan Hall is one of those instructors with a delivery you either love or hate. Personally I think his instructionals are some of the best at communicating the technical and conceptual nature behind jiu jitsu technique. Sure, he talks a lot. But complaining about being given too much information is as senseless as attending an important college lecture and saying the Professor explained things too well. What I do find with Ryan's DVDs however, is that once I have listened to his explanations in their entirety the first time, there's not much need to listen to them again, hence I use the fast forward button to hit those sections in each chapter where he simply demonstrates the move.

On the surface, the deep half guard might appear to be the kind of thing only of interest to more advanced jiu jitsu students, or those who compete a lot, but I disagree. I own Ryan's Inverted Guard (review here) discs, open elbow (review coming), Guard passing (review coming), back takes (review coming), Guard Passing concepts (review coming) and they all seem to feed off one another fluidly. In fact, quite a lot of the Deep Half set, by the very nature of the position, will inevitably involve the need for Ryan to cover areas found on his other DVDs. All the discs are similar in format, with Ryan breaking down the concepts in a way that any level student can understand.

For me, the deep half guard was once something to admire from afar but never really dared to try. This DVD set gave someone like me an assured hand hold through the concepts and I'm now more confident of using it during open sparring. There is ample content, probably 80-90% more than I could ever use in real life, but it's there for me to delve into whenever I want to progress and move on from my initial level of deep half guard play.

In case readers are interested, there are other deep half videos on the market. I haven't viewed these, but a lot of people suggest both the newly released Bernardo Faria and the Jeff Glover Deep Half Guard set offer slightly different viewpoints on the execution of this guard, so worth checking out if you are intending to be the deep half guru in the academy.


About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Jattavk said...

I've got to give this a watch, I find that I'm working my way round Half/deep half a lot without having a lot of options outside the standard deep half sweep.

John Smith said...

I found Jeff glovers DHG DVD much better to be honest, Hall is hard to listen to and Glovers explanations are much simpler. (Halls dvd is still a good option) However, Bernardo Faria's DVD is the gold standard in DHG, in my humble opinion. Hall is much more expensive too.
Prices from budovideos.com
Faria $69.95
Glover $69.95
Hall $124.95

Meerkatsu said...

I missed out mentioning Stephen Kesting who I believe also has a DHG video available. And trust Caio Terra to offer up his versions too on the 101 half guard techniques video set. If I get the chance, I'll try to check out the others.

BigNoz said...

"Bernardo Faria's DVD is the gold standard in DHG" - seriously? I have it and it doesn't cover even 1/4 of what Hall's does. It's no more than a series of techniques that he does. I had to refer to Hall's DVD to remind myself of what correct DHG posture and limb positioning you're aiming for. I suspect Faria expects you to to have the basics down already. The Hall set is by far the most detailed. Yes this does mean sitting through too much talking-whilst-blinking to camera but the concepts and details are the essence of the position AND you get a load of techniques too. It really needs the 3 DVDs unlike so many multi-disk offerings.


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