Believe it or not, the half guard was not always seen as a dominant position to attack sweeps and submissions from…
The half guard, also known by its Portuguese name, “meia guardoa” was developed in the early 1990s by Roberto Correa. It has existed for a long time however its origins are unknown, however it has been seen in a few Judo video clips from the 1940s but mostly feel out of practice mainly due to changes in the ruleset and advancements in the sport.
Jake Mackenzie may be the most knowledgeable half guard specialist in Brazil. Learn The Top Secret Half Guard System From The Canadian Who Infiltrated Brazil’s Toughest School
Nowadays, you see the half guard used virtually everywhere, whether it is Brazilain Jiu Jitsu, Submission grappling, SAMBO, Judo or other sports, it is undeniable the half guard is one of the most prominent styles of guard player in the world. High level grapplers such as Jake Mackenzie, Gary Tonnon, Tom DeBlass, Bernardo Faria and many others are well known and respected for their half guard game, so much so that many of these grapplers have dedicated much of their instruction to focusing on half guard. Because of this, there are many variations on the half guard, and it is safe to say that everyone approaches it a little differently. When it comes to improving your own half guard game one of the best things you can do is keep an open mind and explore as many of these variations, sweeps, transitions, and submissions as possible. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some simple techniques that will greatly improve your half guard game!
5 Tips To Improve Your Half Guard by Bernardo Faria and Tom Deblass
Bernardo Faria and Tom DeBlass are arguably two of the best half guard players of all time. Both of these amazing athletes and instructors have released more than a few instructional series solely devoted to the half guard. So let’s check out 5 of their tips to improve your half guard! Watch the video below and then we will break it down. Check it out now!
Here are Tom and Bernardo’s 5 simple tips for improving your half guard:
#1: Get as deep as you can any time you are going for a single leg or any sweep from the half guard position. Your opponent will naturally defend against your half guard by trying to smash you and flatten you on the ground. Beware of the cross face and the whizzer. If you are not deep enough you are susceptible to both of these.
#2: Framing is very important for an effective half guard. You can use framing to control distance. You do not just use framing in order to be defensive; you use it to get a reaction from your opponent. By pushing away from your opponent you not only open up space to recover guard but you can use the momentum to set up sweeps, transitions, and leg locks.
#3: Yes, shoulder pressure sucks. But guess used to it. It is going to happen a lot. So remain calm and do not be a wuss, and remember that your training partner can’t get a submission here.
#4: The cross face and the under hook play a huge roll in just how good your guard is. Roll your hips by using your training partner’s legs and arm to force them to post with their under hooking hand.
#5: The most important detail is how you pull half guard. How you pull half guard will either give you problems or it will give you a huge advantage over your opponent. If you allow your opponent to get and under hook or a cross face, you are going to have a bad time. So pay attention to this very crucial detail.
Making Your Half Guard Impossible to Pass With Tom DeBlass
One of the most common things people struggle with is getting their half guard passed. Here is an interesting fact: Tom DeBlass has never had his guard passed in professional competition. I don’t think there could be a better person to learn half guard defense from! In the video below Tom DeBlass and his brown belt student Kyle Krieger demonstrate ways to make your guard impossible to pass. Watch the video below and then we will break down the technique. Check it out now!
The most common way to get passed from half guard is having your leg pinned to the mat, making it easy to slide a knee across and pass into side control. Tom DeBlass points out that while many people focus on their top leg he instead prefers to focus on his bottom leg. As soon as his training partner starts controlling the bottom leg, Tom will invert, get his free leg up and over his opponent’s head, now controlling his arm and breaking down his posture. From this position there are a lot of submissions, such as the omoplata and arm bar. Or, instead of hanging out in this position, Tom shows how to continue to roll through and re-establish your guard. As Tom’s opponent controls his bottom leg, DeBlass grips the gi, and rolls into an inverted position. Depending on what his training partner does from here DeBlass will either attack the leg, first grabbing it with his hands and then trapping it with his legs. Or he rolls all the way through, completely escaping his legs, allowing himself an opportunity to do a technical stand up, or re-establish half guard.
No Gi Deep Half Guard Sweep By Jaime Jara
Deep Half Guard is a great position to sweep from. Often you will see a small guy use this to advantage to sweep a bigger opponent. It can be a frustrating position to find yourself stuck in, but with a little technique you can learn to sweep any opponent at any belt level. In the video below Jaime Jara will teach us one his most effective no gi deep half guard sweeps. Watch the video and then we will break down the technique. Check it out now!
The key take aways in this technique are simple. You want to avoid allowing your opponent the under hook, and prevent him from shutting down your defense by feeding your hand through under his leg. Use your legs as a “shelf” to elevate his leg, switching your bottom foot quickly. From there, control his hips and elevate his leg so you can spin into his guard with double under hooks. Once hip control is established, Jara elevates his opponent’s leg, spinning into him and landing with double under hooks. From here you can lock your grip, pick up your opponent, and dump his legs in order to pass to side control, finishing the pass.
Pulling Half Guard From Knees by Bernardo Faria
When it comes to playing half guard, how you set it up is crucial to being successful from this position. It is often over looked how important this is, but today Bernardo is going to show us how. Watch the video below of Bernardo Faria pulling half guard from the knees and then we will break down his technique. Check it out now!
The thing about pulling guard is that you want to do it in a way that puts you the best possible position to start fighting from. At this time you are not going to be able to cross over the arm. Rather you can control your training partner’s lapel and arm, or you can control both hands on the same lapel. The grips are different but the goals are exactly the same. No matter how you set your grips you want to lift one leg and throw yourself underneath your partner. Notice how Bernardo pulls his training partner into his half guard. He does not even give him a chance to go over or try to counter with a stack pass or under hook. You pull your opponent into your guard to take away his opportunities. At this time you are able to work the Z guard, or to go to single leg, or even deep half guard.
Knee Shield Basics by Bernardo Faria
A big part of a good defensive half guard is the knee shield. You will often times see white belts struggle with this. A poor knee shield can be easily stuffed and passed, making your defense very weak. In the video below 5 Time World Champion Bernardo Faria shares some simple techniques for making your knee shield much more effective. Watch the video below and then we will break down the technique. Check it out now!
Bernardo Faria prefers to teach the half guard starting from knee shield, which is a more common position to be in, especially if an opponent has just broken down your full guard. As Faria explains, the knee shield is effective for keeping your training partner’s weight off of your body. It also allows you to control the space between you and your opponent. Think of the knee shield like a seat belt going across your opponent’s chest from the hip to his shoulder. It is important to remember to use your foot to hook your partner’s ribs. This really helps you control where you opponent can move. When you have the knee shield you usually use a cross collar grip and control your training partner’s gi sleeve or wrist to start setting up sweeps, transitions, and submissions.
Countering The Underhook by Jake Mackenzie
The under hook is your primary concern when playing half guard. As soon as your opponent goes for the under hook you want to prevent his head from reaching the mat. This will avoid him putting pressure on you, making it difficult to retain your guard. As your opponent is pushing forward to get the under hook you want to capture his opposite arm. Now you want to bridge and extend your arm out. Once you are fully extended you want to pull your elbow back and scoot your hips underneath. Now you can secure your under hook and come up to your knees.
As you can tell, there is so much variety when it comes to learning the half guard. The more you learn about this position the better chances you have against someone who is very good at countering from top half guard. So be sure to give these techniques a try the next time you are in a live roll! And if you are looking for more great half guard techniques then check out Jake Mackenzie’s Half Precision Half Guard volumes 1 and 2 available exclusively on BJJFanatics.com!
Everybody feels in trouble when they play half guard with Jake. Now, it’s your turn to make everyone feel this way about your game. When you finish watching this series you’ll leave them thinking you were born on the mat. REMEMBER! Half guard is a safe guard to play. It has no age or body-type restriction. Anyone can play it – literally.
The problem is most people play half guard wrong. Jake is like an encyclopedia when it comes to half guard. He’s all about technique without force and shows you game-changing details.
Learn The System That Will Completely Change Your Half Guard Game.