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Brazilian National Champ Jake Mackenzie’s Half Guard

Brazilian National Champ Jake Mackenzie’s Half Guard


When it comes to some of the greatest half guard players out there, Jake Mackenzie is certainly in the mix... 

Mackenzie is an international sensation, having competed at the highest levels against some of the toughest competitors. Jake Mackenzie is a Canadian born Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu. His half guard is battle tested and his techniques are proven to work. Jake’s list of accolades is long, with some of his main titles at black belt being: 4x Brazilian National Teams Champion, 2x Brazilian National No Gi Champion, 2x São Paulo International Open Champion, World Masters Champion, São Paulo International No Gi Open Champion and more.

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


When it comes to half guard, Jake has a very methodical approach, and when he breaks down his techniques it is very simple and easy to learn. The half guard has developed over the years to become a very dynamic position, and is even used by some of the highest level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors as the foundation of their grappling game. Jake Mackenzie is no exception to this. Today we are going to explore some of Jake Mackenzie’s half guard techniques. Not only is Jake a great competitor, he is also an excellent instructor. With all that in mind, let’s get started!

Half Guard Basic Positioning

Half guard is so widely used because of its versatility. It is a great position to attack and defend from, often opening yourself up for great sweeps, submissions, or transitions into a variety of positions. Half guard is also popular because it is so easy to learn and can be effective even for a person with limited experience. But with out understanding basic positioning in half guard you will struggle. Let us take a look at some basic positioning tips from Jake Mackenzie. Watch the video below and then we will break down the technique. Check it out now!

When playing half guard, Jake prefers not to use the knee shield. This is because the knee shield is a defensive position, which does not allow you to attack. His secures grips to control his opponent’s hips by grabbing the belt. His knee goes into his opponent’s arm pit, allowing him a free arm to attack with. With his free arm, Jake will grab his opponent’s elbow and pull his training partner into his guard to tighten things up. Mackenzie takes his opponent’s head off line by pushing with his knee in the arm pit, creating negative space. From here he shoots in for the under hook and circles off to the side, keeping his head underneath his training opponent. When Mackenzie secures the low under hook he grabs around his opponent’s shin, and puts his shoulder forward, giving himself a much more solid base.

Butt Drag To Double Leg

Often times in half guard, how you attack defends on your opponent. When playing half guard you should be looking to exploit your training partner’s positioning. If you have played against an opponent who is stalling in your half guard because they aren’t sure what direction to take then this butt drag to double leg works really well. Watch the video below of Jake Mackenzie demonstrating his butt drag to double leg technique and then we will break it down. Check it out now!

It is a common technique to secure an under hook when playing bottom half guard. When you have the under hook you can usually catch your opponent floating in limbo, exposing an opportunity to hit the double leg. To do this, Jake Mackenzie feeds his arm through to his training partner’s leg, but gets blocked in the process. While his training partner is trying to posture up, Jake will following their movement by posting on his hand, allowing him to readjust his guard. This causes his opponent to switch to a tripod stance with a wide base, exposing his legs for a double leg. As soon as Jake’s training partner’s legs are open he switches hi setup, using hooks similar to butterfly guard. From here Jake gets his feet back, grabs the far leg and pressures forward with his head on the outside of his training partner to topple him over with a double leg. He ends the double leg by moving into side control.

Half Guard Pass Using Opposite Under Hook

As we discussed in the previous technique, the under hook is a very common technique when playing bottom half guard. It is also a very common technique for top half guard. But most BJJ guys will not know how to pass using the opposite side under hook. This is a very unique trick that can help you sweep any opponent. Watch the video below and then we will break down Jake Mackenzie’s half guard pass technique. Check it out now!

A lot of BJJ players perceive top half guard as a fight for the under hook on your opponent’s top arm. But only few think about attacking the under hook on the bottom arm. Jake sets this up by allowing his opponent some space to shoot up for the under hook. When his training partner is connected to Jake, it gives him a quick opportunity to set his own under hook. From here Jake pushes his opponent’s shoulder down and sets his other under hook. There are going to be different grips that you can do here, or you can even leave your hand on the ground. From here you want to pinch your knees together to start freeing your leg. As Jake frees his leg from his opponent’s half guard he extends his leg so that his weight is on his knee, pressuring down with his head on the mat. Jake pressures further forward with his chest as he passes his other leg over. Jake emphasizes that you want your foot to stay flat and connect to your training partner the entire time you are passing the leg. When you are here you want to wait for your opponent to either hip escape or try to move. As soon as Jake clears his foot he either goes to side mount or straight mount.

Reverse Half Guard

When playing bottom half guard, often times your opponent will counter by back stepping to pass the half guard. As this happens, it will allow you to switch into reverse half guard. Watch the video below of Jake showing a sweep from the reverse half guard and then we will break it down. Check it out now!

When playing half guard, you want to make sure that you lift your hip up in order to put pressure on the knee. After Jake puts pressure on the knee he goes to switch his hooks. This is where most of your training partners will think you are going to go for a hook sweep. Instead, Jake slides his leg into his training partner’s leg. Once Jake gets on top he manages to hit a leg drag which allows him to sweep his training partner, effectively passing his guard. This is an excellent position to be in. This is a great way to make something good out of a bad position.

Elbow Lock Roll

It is important to remember that a lot of techniques from the half guard are actions to reactions. Where your opponent goes determines the move you want to make. You can use your opponent’s momentum to sweep them. Watch the video demonstration below of Jake Mackenzie demonstrating his elbow lock roll and then we will break down the technique. Check it out now!

In the video above, when playing half guard Jake Mackenzie likes to bump his opponent to load his weight on his arm. A lot of the time your training partner will take his arm off to pass backwards. Make sure you keep his head down after trapping the leg by catching his elbow and locking it with both your arms. Your hand on the back of his head brings it to the floor and the other hand stays stretched. Knee your opponent hard in the ribs to get him to roll over. Once he rolls over you can push him into a smash pass.

Countering The Underhook

It is a common problem amongst Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players who love half guard: how to counter the under hook. When playing half guard top, one of the most used techniques is to set an under hook while your training partner is trying to frame and create space. This can give you an advantage, as it allows you to smash and pass. Watch the video below of Jake Mackenzie demonstrating the under hook counter and then we will break down his technique. Check it out now!

There are two components to getting this technique right: timing and bridging. Once you get these two parts down you will really have a great counter to a very common problem when playing bottom half guard. The under hook should be your main concern when playing for the bottom. It is something that you want to watch for the whole time you are there. As soon as your opponent goes for the under hook you want to prevent his head from getting all the way to the mats. If he gets his head to the floor, there is going to be a lot of pressure and body weight on top of you, making things a lot harder. As your opponent is pushing forward to get the under hook you want to do a good job covering his opposite arm. The timing in this is very crucial. You do not want to hesitate when he goes for the under hook. Right away you should be looking to bridge and extend your arm out. Once you are fully extended you want to pull your elbow back and try to scoot your hips underneath. Now you can secure your under hook, and come up to your knees.

When it comes to succeeding in jiu jitsu you never stop learning. If you have spent any time on the mats, you will already know how difficult it is to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For many, it becomes a life time endeavor that requires you to always be learning, and always be innovating. It is important to always take that learner’s mentality onto the mats. What we saw here today from Jake Mackenzie should pique your interest when it comes to playing half guard. If you are passionate about grappling, and want to improve your half guard then check out Jake’s amazing instructional series, High Precision Half Guard available exclusively on Jake may be the most knowledgeable half guard specialist in Brazil and in this series he shares all his secret tips and tricks that make him a half guard wizard. This series will completely transform your half guard, making you a much stronger and harder opponent to deal with.

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.



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