One of the most interesting positions in Jiu Jitsu is the Half Guard. The half guard is often a transitional position when the person on top is working to pass to mount or side mount or when the person on bottom is attempting to reclaim full guard. That is not to say that there are not a near infinite number of attacks for both the bottom and top man from this position, but when first learning jiu jitsu it is a good place to start. Below we will cover some basics from this extremely versatile position.
Half Guard Top
As you advance your position from full guard towards side mount or Full mount, your opponent will often trap your leg with both of his legs from the bottom. This is half guard. Your first priority is to establish and underhook on your opponents outside arm. The deeper the better. The underhook from this position is very important. The man who gets to the underhook first will severely increase his chances of winning. Giving up the underhook while on top will expose your back to your opponent and once that happens you have a whole new position to worry about. After getting your underhook on the far arm look to get a cross face with your free arm and put your opponents back flat to the mat and then dig your arm deep around the neck with your weight concentrated through your shoulder into your opponents jaw/chin/neck/face. The goal here is to make your opponent so uncomfortable with your shoulder pressure that he will give up your leg in order to alleviate the suffering you are inflicting on him. Good shoulder pressure is an art form that can take some time to develop, so if your opponent has a death grip on your leg with his legs, you can look to use your free outside leg to untangle your captured leg and move directly to mount or side mount. There are some basic submissions available from this top half guard, namely the kimura, arm triangle, ezekiel, and many leg attacks, but I would urge you to master control and advancing your position first before going straight to the submission.
- Always get the underhook
- Keep opponent flat with crushing shoulder pressure
- Submissions- Kimura, Ezekiel, Arm Triangle, Leg attacks
Half Guard Bottom
The key to develop a good bottom half guard is to develop a firm understanding of control and attack from half guard on top. Basically you want to do the opposite of everything I just covered. Your opponent wants the underhook on top, so don’t give it to him and get your own from the bottom. He will want to get his arm around your neck and use shoulder pressure to get you flat on your back, so fight that arm from ever getting to your neck and don’t let his shoulder get close enough to put the squeeze on you. Whether you have the underhook or the man on top beats you to it, you want to stay active and on your side so as to never let your opponent settle his weight on you. Your main goal from the bottom of half guard is to either reclaim full guard or to sweep and reverse positions. There are about a billion sweeps and reversals from bottom half guard and several submission as well. Kimuras and leg locks are readily available from here and will also work well to set up sweeps and reversals.
- Always active and never flat
- Get the underhook and avoid the crossface, head control and shoulder pressure
- Look to sweep and get on top or reclaim full guard
- Submission- Kimura, leg locks