Concepts for Top Half Guard
One of the most popular positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the half guard. Interestingly, many grapplers like Tom Deblass and Bernardo Faria would make the half guard their primary guard and will even force opponents to the position. The reason half guard is so popular, compared to closed guard, is that there are many options one can choose, be it sweeps, upper body submissions, or leg attacks.
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If you roll or compete against a grappler who has made the half guard their primary position of choice, you will experience a lot of difficulty, and this is especially true when contending with heavy grapplers that can generate a lot of force.
The signature tool grapplers use in half guard that make it so difficult for the top player to deal with is the knee shield, which includes high and low knee shields. The knee shield allows the guard player to maintain as much space as they desire depending on what technique they decide to try. The basic half guard sweep, which is usually the first sweep grapplers learn from the submission can be difficult to stop, but in the following video, Australian Jiu Jitsu wizard Lachlan Giles shows us how to stop it. See below:
In order to attack the simple half guard sweep, the bottom player has to give up their under hook or else they can’t sit up. As long as the top player is cognizant and quick enough, they can respond to the under hook quickly in many ways.
One thing you’ll notice a lot of high level grapplers do when they get trapped in the closed guard is actually lift their hips to stand up or to bring their shin out. Passing half guard is much more difficult than standing passes or passing reverse de la riva, that’s why getting up can be very frustrating for those grapplers that love using half guard.
Sometimes, if I find myself trapped in a fully locked half guard with the knee shield, I’ll just stand up and separate entirely. Since most grapplers that use half guard as their primary guard are heavier, I know I will be more successful doing fast passes from a standing position that I would if I tried to pressure through half guard.
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