One of the best attributes of half guard that makes it so popular is it’s versatility. Not only are there a ton of different varieties of half guard, but each type can be used in many different ways. Not only is there versatility with the leg position, but even where the hands are placed can make a huge difference in your half guard.
Pritt Mihkelson describes his training as “functionalistic minimalism” – based on fundamental postures and movements that ever grappler needs to know.
The way half guard works is by controlling one leg of the top player rather than both legs as is seen with closed guard. You might think that not having control of the other leg can be dangerous, but what it offers the guard player is greater in benefit than that received by the top player.
The inherent problem with closed guard is that our legs are locked together. This means that they can be used as effectively as they could if they were open. In half guard, your legs usually aren’t locked and this means you have greater mobility. Even when you do lock your legs when playing half guard, you still aren’t nearly as limited in moving as you are when using closed guard.
The other benefit of half guard that I think is even more valuable is that it allows the guard player to grapple from the side of their body instead of their back. In closed guard, we are limited to playing on our backs unless we are performing a sweep or submission. Playing guard from our sides is generally more favorable because it is easier to maneuver our bodies.
Lucas Leite is a multi-time Jiu Jitsu world champion who received his black belt from Leo Viera in 2006. Lucas is a widely regarded as one of the best grapplers ever and is know for his half guard game. In the following video, Lucas will illustrate a very slick sweep from half guard. See below:
Although the position Lucas goes into may resemble deep guard, it’s a little bit different. In deep half guard, we will actually end up facing the opposite direction Lucas does while grab their leg above the knee. This coyote half guard is more like the lockdown used by 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, and this sweep is one Eddie Bravo used a lot in his match against Royler Gracie.
Bernardo Has Become World Renown For Teaching Older Guys Because His Moves Require Almost Zero Strength, Speed or Flexibility… How?