Half guard is one of the most used positions in Jiu-Jitsu. For the longest time half guard was looked at as a reactive position. Meaning you had to use it to stop a pass, defend the mount. Modern half guard player are some of the most dynamic and offensive grapplers out there. A good half guard player will look at the position proactively but understand you can use it re-actively.
One of the best half guard players today is Canadian Jake Mackenzie. Here he shares 3 ESSENTIAL tips for every BJJ white belt out there looking to sharpen up their half guard. Check it out!
If you are ready to learn Half Guard from one of the most SEASONED half guard players on earth Click Learn More!
Utilize Strong Frames
Framing can be severely overlooked when it comes to teaching and learning half guard. Having good frames isn’t simply how hard can you push. Placement of the frames, especially in half guard, will play a major role in how much weight you are feeling from your opponent.
Half guard framing is slightly different than other framing. While it still uses both arms, the half guard player is embedded to the floor on their side. This creates a wedge between you and your opponent using your body position and your arms. The top arm goes across the chest of the guard passer while the bottom arm is constantly tracking the bicep. This is crucial for any half guard player because a cross face is an excellent way to negate the half guard.
Battle For The Underhook
Any good half guard player, like Jake Mackenzie, will tell you that the success of half guard is often determined by who is controlling the underhook. While diving your underhook in it is important to also make a note of your head position. If you are easily put to your back chances are you aren’t creating the necessary angle while diving for the underhook. Your head should be dug in underneath of your opponent’s in a way where they cannot simply drive into you.
As Mackenzie points out in the video, 90% of your half guard techniques revolve around the underhook. When practicing your half guard if you pay attention to who is controlling the underhook will make progress much more manageable because you can start to self diagnose your mistakes.
The third tip shared by two of the all-time greats of half guard, is that you need to act! You have some options so that’s always a good thing. For instance if you have a partner who is engaging your underhook with heavy overhook pressure slipping out to the back might be a risky endeavor. Instead you can dive underneath and play some deep half guard.
If when you start to dive in your underhook and your opponent starts to shift their weight off of you and onto the mat you can start to slide out with a high underhook to start to attack your opponent’s back. Having a couple of ideas on where to go when playing half guard is a good idea. Your partner’s reaction will lead you where to go, and hopefully pull off some techniques shared in the video!
Half guard is something best learned early on in your Jiu-Jitsu journey for a multitude of reasons. One major reason to play half guard is how easy it is to transfer your game between Gi and No-Gi. While there are some advantages using lapels and other gripping strategies in half guard, most techniques transfer easily when the Gi is off.
Another aspect that makes half guard beginner friendly is that it can be used to keep your opponent’s weight off of you. A successful half guard player will be able to manipulate the passer’s weight by using strong frames and a multitude of configurations with the legs. This will help the newer practitioners of the gentle art to not get smashed underneath of the passer.
Jake Mackenzie is not only a world class competitor, but a world class instructor. Years of playing half guard have lead him to release his MASTER CLASS on all things half guard. If you are tired of getting smashed and are looking for a more GROUNDED approach to Jiu-Jitsu Jake Mackenzie has you covered with High Precision Half Guard Vol. 2!