Is Half Guard Really Simple?

Bernardo Faria, BJJ, bottom half guard, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Half Guard, Jiu Jitsu, Submission Grappling -

Is Half Guard Really Simple?

The half guard has long been seen as the “simple” guard, “lazy” guard and even “old man” guard.  The question we ask today is, is the half guard really simple?  This is tough because there is no easy answer.  It is like any other position in bjj, the half guard can be simple and effective, or it can very aggressive and also effective.

Many of the best bjj players in the world have used the half guard throughout their careers.  Some of these guys include, Bernardo Faria, Lucas Leite, Tom Deblass, Xande Ribeiro and more.  If it works at the highest levels it must be effective, but is it simple? Again, it can be simple, but it can also be extremely complex and effective.

The Simple Half Guard

The half guard has been deemed simple and effective for inflexible and older guys for several reasons. The main contributing factor to this reputation is the fact that the half guard slows down fast paced passers.  Just pulling half guard nullifies many of the fast paced and aggressive guard passers games.  For example, if someone likes to pass standing and do leg drags, X passes, and other blitzkrieg passes.  Once you have established a good half guard, you can slow down your opponent and play a more methodical game.

In this sense it is a simple, lazy, and effective guard.  You can just get an underhook, stay very tight, let your opponent tire himself out and use your timing to come up on a sweep.  The half guard is also simple because if you master a few sweeps from the position, you will be able use it against people of all levels.  Look at 5x black Belt World Champion, Bernardo Faria.  Faria has one of the simplest games in bjj and even though his opponents know what he wants to do, he does it.  His timing is impeccable.  Check out our article “The Art of The Half Guard with Tom Deblass” to see some cool half guard tips and also check out this match that Bernardo Faria had at the 2015 pans below and watch him utilize the half guard to sweep, pass and submit.

The Difficult Half Guard

The half guard can also be an extremely athletic position that is also very gritty.  What do we mean by this?  Sometimes many of the half guard sweeps are dependent on good wrestling.  This can be extremely tiring and playing half guard can also be very gritty.  When you play half guard, many times you will come up on single legs and double legs, this calls for cardio, tenacity and many other elements that implicate an aggressive and athletic guard.  So it really depends how you play half guard.

Half guard can also be very gritty which may not be very conducive towards a bjj practitioner who is older, or more inflexible.  What do we mean by gritty?  Well, imagine you find yourself in half guard with a bigger and stronger guy, all of the sudden they get a mean cross face and underhook.  This can make the half guard a miserable position to be in.  You might get smashed; hurt your neck, or your diaphragm. So again, the half guard may be amazing for an older guy or terrible.. Check out this awesome sweep with half guard master, Bernardo Faria.

So you want to play a simple and effective half guard? Well, get your hands on arguably the best half guard player ever, Bernardo Faria’s DVD set, “Battle Tested Half Guard.”  Bernardo is infamous for his simple, effective, and tenacious half guard.  He has a game that is suitable for anybody at any age, weight, gender, or fitness level!


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