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Half Guard BJJ Instructional Video
Why The Half Guard IS Good For Self-Defense, MMA, and BJJ

Why The Half Guard IS Good For Self-Defense, MMA, and BJJ


The half guard has long been one of the most popular guards in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, and Self-Defense.  Since the creation of Jiu Jitsu, this guard has been heavily considered one of the fundamental guards.  It is taught in many fundamental classes across the world and it is perceived as a simple guard.  Why is the half guard so popular?  It has been proven effective at the highest levels of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Competitions in gi and nogi, it has been proven effective time and time again in the UFC, and it has been proven effective for self-defense.

Why is the half guard such a good guard for so many different things?  The half guard is a very simple, and effective when used properly it can make you extremely dangerous.  There have been many half guard experts who use this guard to win top level competitions, some of those practitioners include 5x black belt world champion Bernardo Faria, Lucas Leite, and Tom DeBlass.

There have been many other people in bjj that use the half guard as one of their best weapons, we have also seen household names such as Demian Maia, and other UFC fighters use the half guard effectively in competition.  Let’s discuss more technical reasons for why the half guard is such an important position.

Half Guard for Brazilian Jiu Jitu Competitions Gi and NoGi

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specifically, the half guard has been one of the most popular guards at the highest levels of competitions for a long time.  The half guard may appear simple on the surface, but the complexity of the position is vast. We know the fundamental principles of the half guard are to attain an under hook, stay on your side, and try and get to the dog fight position to do single legs and double legs.

This is the basic approach to playing the half guard, but the half guard can be used in far more complex ways.  When you look at many of these high-level competitors, you can see how deep the worm hole gets with the half guard.  It is an extremely efficient guard for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition.  There are several things that make the half guard effective for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions.

First off, the half guard presents itself very often.  What we mean is that you will find yourself in the half guard position often not by choice but because your opponent has attempted to knee slide or something.  This leads to it becoming more popular.   Secondary to this, it is easy to get into.  Pulling half guard can be executed easily and quite effectively in grappling tournaments.  Check out this video below from 5x Black Belt World Champ, Bernardo Faria on how to pull the half guard from the knees.

Not only does the half guard present itself often, it is a great choice for competition so that you can slow the pace of a match down.  If you have competed before you are probably familiar with the adrenaline dump, that being said, you know how tiring competitions can be.  This makes the half guard an excellent choice for people that want to slow down a match.  When you play guards like open guards, people can start to pass standing from left right, side to side, but when you put them in the half guard, you can slow them down.  This can make the half guard a great resource for energy conservation.  Check out this cool sweep below from the half guard.

So, the half guard is easy to get into, good for cardio, effective for sweeps, good for control, and it presents itself often.  With these things in mind, the half guard becomes an excellent position for competitors.  Therefore, we see so many of the best competitors use the half guard.

The Half Guard For MMA

The half guard has also been proven as an effective position for MMA fights.  We have seen people be successful in the UFC with the half guard time and time again.  One of the best examples of a successful half guard in MMA is Demian Maia.  Demian always attempts to shoot single legs but when his attempts are failed, he will pull the half guard.  He pulls half guard with the end goal being that he wants to come back up for that same single leg.

Half guard is effective in MMA for several reasons.  Again, like in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it presents itself often.  Many people want to try and pass and get out of closed guard in MMA so you see them getting into the half guard.  Half guard is a great defensive position where you are able to avoid a lot of damage if you understand the principles of a good half, and the half guard is excellent for sweeping.  Check out this sweep from the half guard below.

So, the half guard is excellent for MMA because you can come up on several different takedowns and use these.  Takedowns are an enormous part of MMA so when you get a good wrestler who takes the time to learn the mechanics of the half guard, he becomes extremely dangerous from this position.  It is so common to come up on single leg and double leg takedowns from the half guard.  The half guard is also easy to pull off of a failed takedown or in the sprawl position.

Half Guard For Self-Defense

The half guard is also an excellent option for anyone who find themselves in a self-defense altercation.  When you are in some type of street confrontation things can escalate very quickly.  The half guard may present itself if you are thrown to the ground or if you tried to shoot and failed.  That being said, it is wise to understand the half guard principles.

If you are in some type of street confrontation the half guard is easy to utilize because the person you are going against probably does not understand anything about grappling.  This makes the fundamentals of half guard EXTREMELY effective and easy to use.  All you need to do is get an under hook and come up to their back or to a take down.  It is as simple as that, you just have to be able to stay tight and focused.

The half guard is also an excellent way to evade punches and stay defensive.  You can crunch into your opponent and mitigate the potential damage your opponent can use by punching.  When your opponent tries to punch, especially an untrained person, they will sacrifice their base and they will be easy to take down or get to their back.  The half guard may actually be the best guard for self-defense.  The argument is either half guard or full guard.   The half guard is probably safer because your opponent cannot generate the leverage to hit you and get as much strength and momentum behind their punch. 


In conclusion, we can confidently say that the half guard is one of the best guards to learn and there is a reason that it is considered a foundation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  The half guard has made its mark on bjj and MMA over the years given its versatility and effectiveness.  As we see bjj progressing, we see people playing more fancy guards like the 50/50, the De La Riva and many other positions.  We have to realize that the half guard is one of the only positions that has been used in Jiu Jitsu since its inception.  

The half guard is so good to learn, not only because it will work in your academy, in the competition, in gi and no gi, but because it can save your life.  All to often we forget that bjj is and always will be primarily an art of self defense.  An MARTIAL ART.  Here at bjj fanatics, we are not crazy about saying self-defense this and self-defense that, but it is important to remember that it is the roots of bjj. 

Something as simple as having an under hook in the the half guard can easily save your life.  This is because the average person who is walking the street has no idea what to do in these positions and when they get to the ground they just go crazy.  In the half guard all you need is an under hook and BAM, you will get to their back or be able tot double leg them. 

Furthermore, the half guard has been proven as effective in MMA which is our best simulation of what works in real self-defense scenarios. Let's take Demien Maia, arguably the most successful bjj practitioner in MMA ever.  What did he do?  What position was he finding success with?  Well, the fact of the matter is, it was the half guard.  HE constantly got his opponent in the half guard and he was able to come up to single legs or take their back.  Anyways, something to think about. 

So now you probably have read all of this and want to learn more half guard techniques.  Well lucky for you, BJJ Fanatics has a wide variety of half guard technique DVD’s.  One of the bestselling and most effective Half Guard instructional we have is by the beloved Tom DeBlass.  Tom has been competing at the highest levels of BJJ and the UFC for quite some time.  HE has used his half guard for years and years with the utmost success.  If you want to learn the secrets of one of the best NoGI and MMA half guard players to ever do it, check out Tom DeBlass 4 DVD Set, “Half Domination.”

Maybe you are more into the gi? Well we have a solution for that as well.  5x Black Belt Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion, Bernardo Faria has a 4 DVD Set that will CHANGE your half guard forever.  His DVD’s “Battle Tested Half Guard” are exactly that.  They are battle tested and battle proven.  Bernardo has some of the simplest BJJ in the world, everybody knows that he wants to play the half guard and yet no one can stop it.  If you want to learn the secrets of a world champion, this DVD set is an excellent resource to develop your game.  Check it out today!


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