Add This Easy Half Guard Sweep to Your Game
Half guard is easily one of the most popular styles of guard and games being played today. What was once seen as simply a desperate attempt to not have one's guard passed, has over the years developed into an extremely effective position ripe with sweeps and submission options for the half guard players.
There are a number of extremely important benefits that playing half guard can provide the bottom player. Half guard can also provide a perfect bridge between closed guard to the many forms of open guard, such as butterfly guard, X guard, De La Riva and others. Let's look at some of the specific half guard benefits.
Half Guard Helps Mobility
On a very basic level, when you have your opponent in closed guard, your mobility is compromised because your hips and legs are wrapped around the opponent keeping them trapped in that guard. By maintain this connection, we are limited to amount of mobility we can have with both our upper and lower body.
Conversely in half guard, we are typically only controlling one of the opponent's legs and ideally utilizing our knee and arms for frames and shields to help displace the weight and pressure of the opponent. In a standard half guard position, you should also be trying to remain on your side which is a much more mobile position than being flat on your back. By being on your side, it is much more difficult for your opponent on the top to control the hips as you are not limited to simply up and down motion (as in closed guard), but now are able to scoot them out and away from the opponent.
Half Guard Increases Resilience and Strength
Also, the fact that you are on your side makes the weight and pressure that you experience from the opponent much less. Think about what it feels to be caught in full mount versus technical mount. Although both can be terrible, being on our side is a much better place to be.
While you are on your side in half guard, it is important to make good use of your knee shield to keep the pressure of the opponent off of you. The knee shield makes it extremely difficult for the opponent to keep you flat. This allows you to divert and steer their pressure to different sides depending on your goals. And even if they are able to get past your knee shield and wrap their arms around your neck and under hook you, the process of flattening you out forces them to commit a lot of their body weight to your hips which can make them vulnerable. For this reason, for a good bottom half guard player, nearly every situation can be capitalized on.
For these reasons, half guard is a great guard for new practitioners to begin exploring as they find their closed guards getting passed more and more often. By adding an arsenal of sweeps to their game, not only will they slow down those guard passes, but they will also see that the reactions they create with their sweeps could open up entries to other types of guard, specifically open guards like butterfly, half butterfly, or X guard.
In the video below, half guard master Bernardo Faria picks up some details on a half guard sweep that he has had a great deal of success with in his own career. In this variation, he seeks out the assistance of Cobrinha affiliate member Vincent Colcol.
In this sweep, Vincent begins with a fairly standard half guard set up complete with knee shield, a lapel grip across the upper chest acting as a frame. He will pull Bernardo forward and shoot the under hook while reaching the bottom hand around the near side leg securing single leg half guard.
At this point, he switches the leg that he is using to hook from the bottom to the top outside leg. He will secure the pants on the outside leg with the bottom hand, until the opportune time arises when he will scoop under the shin of Bernardo and come to his knees sweeping Bernardo backwards and secure the sweep to side control.
Having a few variations of the same sweep can be extremely helpful when presented with new reactions or counters. The fundamentals and concepts behind the sweeps never change, but the nuances and adjustments are what we are constantly working to refine as no two sweeps are exactly the same.
If you haven't played half guard yet, now is the time as it can serve as a great position in and of itself, but also open many doors to other styles of guard that fall under the open guard umbrella. If it works for the likes of Bernardo Faria, Lucas Leite, and Tom DeBlass to name just a few, it should serve you well.
Bernardo Faria has been referred to as the "Michael Jordan of Half Guard" because of his complete mastery of the position. To learn all of the secrets of his Battle Tested Half Guard that helped him earn 5 different world championships over his illustrious career, check out his DVD or On Demand instructionals at BJJ Fanatics.