Bernardo Faria is a multiple-time World BJJ champion teaching out of the Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York.
Bernardo experienced the most success in competition using his half guard position. The Jiu-Jitsu Times asked Bernardo about how jiu-jitsu practitioners can understand and develop their own effective half guard.
Here is what he had to say.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Professor Bernardo, there are several different styles of half guard that BJJ players use: knee shield, deep half, lock down, etc. What do you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of each of these different styles?
Bernardo Faria: I believe that for sure all of them have strengths and weaknesses. I would say that the biggest mistake on all of those techniques would be you trying to play only one of these styles. I’m a big believer of picking one group style, like half guard for example, and trying to focus on all styles of half guard because, for example, if you only know deep half guard, maybe your opponent is good on defending it and then you are in trouble. But once you know how to do the knee shields, the single leg half guard, the deep half guard, and you know a bunch of variations [and] details inside it, and you know how to connect all of them, then you will be in another level. So, that’s how I think and how I try to do. The biggest mistake might be limiting yourself to only one half guard style.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: If I want to start developing my own half guard game, where should I start? Which style of half guard is best to start with for a white or blue belt?
Bernardo Faria: I would suggest the knee shields (Z-Guard) because it’s the type of position that you can control your opponent without being smashed from him. For example, the regular half and deep half, you might be a little used of handling your opponent pressure of his shoulder on your face. Some people gets panic in this position, so I would definitely start with the knee shields, and little by little start working in the deep half and other variations. But for sure to start, I suggest the knee shields. That’s how I started.
Bernardo Faria teaches two deep half guard drills
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Do you feel that a person’s body type affects which half guard game he or she should try to work on? Which other positions connect well with the half guard that you like to use?
Bernardo Faria: No, what I love about half guard is the fact that every person with any body type, can do it. Especially the older grapplers. I believe that it’s the type of technique that works for everybody. Doesn’t matter if you are young, athletic and fast, or old, out of shape and slow. It works for everyone, different than the new type of guards, like berimbolo for example, that you need to be flexible, and good on turning upside down and things like this.
I like the closed guard, because it’s another type of very basic technique that works for everybody, and you can easily go to the closed guard from the half guard. Many times, when my half guard is not working, I go to the closed guard. Or maybe when I feel that my opponent is waiting for me to pull to the half guard, I like to surprise pulling to the closed guard.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Once you have started to develop a style of half guard that works for you, what other skills should you look to build? For example, you mentioned before that you trained your single leg takedown to help finish your half-guard takedowns.
Bernardo Faria: It depends of which half guard style you play. In my case, for example, I like a lot the single leg from half guard and the deep half guard. For the single leg for example, I think wrestling helps a lot. For the deep half guard, for example, as I mentioned before, I like to work a lot the closed guard because if the deep half doesn’t work, I can go to the closed guard, and if from the closed guard I have some good connections to the half too, so everything is linked to force my opponent to play my game.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Professor Bernardo, you are a big advocate of positional training to develop the half guard and to prepare for competition. How should students best use positional training to get good at half guard?
Bernardo Faria: I believe that more important than positional training would be you trying to force to have your opponent or training partner on your “A” game during the roll. So for example, when I’m training, I always try to bring my opponent to my game since the beginning of the roll, and I try to do that on every roll and every tournament. I only not do that when I’m training with someone who is not my level, like some lower belt (white or blue belt) or someone much lighter than me.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: How can guys who want to learn more about your half guard training find out more information? Do you want to shout out to any sponsors of training partners?
Bernardo Faria: Very soon I will launch my new half-guard instructional that will be available in the DVD version, On Demand Version and also on apps. This one will be different than all instructionals that I have made because I filmed myself rolling for one hour, and I will speak during the roll, explaining what I’m thinking and what I’m doing. It will be available at bjjfanatics.com. Also I would like to invite everyone to follow my blog www.bernardofaria.com where I’m posting many free instructional videos and tips about BJJ.
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