Dynamic Half Guard


In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, one of the most dynamic positions is the half guard. Misunderstood by those with little experience, and utilized greatly by those who know its power, having a great half guard is beneficial for top and bottom players. If you want to be successful in Jiu Jitsu, you must be able to play in the position. Learn the benefits of this world…

Half guard is an important position, but also somewhat of a generalization. There is standard half guard, half guard with lockdown, deep half, z guard, x guard and many other variations. As you can see, half guard is not any particular one position, but it is always good to start easy, so to begin, start at standard half guard.

Standard half guard is one of the best positions for sweeps. If you are not great with your takedowns, but you have a strong understanding of half guard, you can pull half guard and be able to sweep to get right on top. Same outcome as if you would have taken your opponent down, but possibly an easier path, using less energy.

Another slight variation on standard half is, half guard with lockdown. This way was popularized by Eddie Bravo and his students at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu. It is very similar to standard half, but instead of triangling the legs on the outside, except your legs have an extended double triangle on the inside. This is a particularly powerful use of half, because you can use your legs to take away your opponent’s base. One of my favorite sweeps from here is the electric chair. Check it out below.

One other style that has gotten very popular in the last few years is what is known as deep half guard. World famous competitors such as Bernardo Faria and Jeff Glover have used deep half for some outstanding wins in their careers. Deep half is called such, because you are deep under your opponent’s hips for sweeps. A person that knows how to get to and control deep half is a dangerous person indeed. Here is Faria hitting it in live competition (after he also successfully uses z guard as well).


Now…why is half guard great to learn? As I mentioned earlier, it is a SWEEPING position. Being able to get on top of your opponent is huge in Jiu Jitsu, and if you’re not proficient with your takedowns, it can be a long day for you on the mats. That is, unless you can use one of the many sweeps that come from half guard position. Half guard can also be used for submissions, though it is a bit rarer for that to occur. Another reason, is the freedom of your hips. In full guard, your opponent can keep your hips controlled, thus limiting your attacks. With half guard, you usually have control of at least one hip. If your opponent cannot get you flat on your back (or even if they do, and you get lockdown, being flat won’t matter) then that person is in danger to being put on their back.

The benefits of half guard don’t stop there. If you know how to play the position, it can get you back to full guard if that is where you want to be. The two go hand in hand and aid in each others positions. Also, half guard and its variations are great ways to set up leg locks if that is also where you have comfort. As you can see, half guard is a flexible way of being in control of your opponent. Many of the times, your opponent won’t realize you are in control, before it is too late for them. Do your research, experiment with the position in training, and you will have success from there before you know it.