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Half Guard

HALF GUARD BASICS

The Half Guard position in BJJ ... and grappling overall has seen a major "evolution" over the past 20 years, and still continues today.

When Jiu Jitsu was still in it's early days of competition, the half guard wasn't really a guard, it was really half passed.  Fighting from half guard typically was a last ditch effort to recover another form of guard such as closed guard or spider guard.

But when you look at half guard, yes you can be "half passed", but there are also clear pathways to attack the back, and ways to disrupt your opponents base / create angles that turn half guard into a very effective attacking guard for both sweeps and submissions.

One of the early pioneers of half guard was Roberto “Gordo” Correa.  Gordo discovered the sweeping power of the the Half Guard and evolved it from a position of half way passed, into a powerful, attacking guard system.

As the half guard has evolved, it's no regarded as one of the top guard systems ever.  Especially after seeing 5x World Champion Bernardo Faria use it to destroy his opponents, or watching Jeff Glover easily sweep his opponents with Deep Half Guard, or watching Tom Deblass defend and protect his half guard with solid frames.  You now even see top no gi grapplers like Craig Jones use half guard to attack a variety of leg locks and other submissions.

There are many top competitors in the world who use half guard to their advantage.  It's almost ignorant to ignore the power of half guard, because no matter want, you will be in that position.  It's not like "lapel guard" or "worm guard" where you have to go through an elaborate setup just to get in the card, which has no translation to no gi, MMA or self defense.  Your opponents are consistently going to be trying to pass your guard, and ending up in half guard is just part of the process.

Below, you'll find all the resources you need to develop, enhance and refine your half guard game.  You'll find tons of free half guard techniques, as well as half guard experts to review and learn their secrets.  You will also find some of the best DVD / On Demand Instructional Videos in the world on Half Guard for when you are ready to truly unlock the secrets of one of the most powerful guard systems ever... the half guard.

HALF GUARD VARIATIONS

The half guard system is a big one.  There are many variations of half guard that all have their strengths and weaknesses.

The sign of a good half guard player, is the ability to know and use a combination of half guard variations.  Due to the nature of half guard, there will be times when you're getting smashed and can't use your favorite variation of half guard.  You'll need to know how to transition to others that will either get you back to your favorite attacking position, or find a sweep or submission.

Z Guard / Knee Shield Half Guard

Z Guard or Knee Shield Half Guard Position

The Z Guard is a long distance half guard that uses a knee shield to keep distance from your opponent.  The knee will either be in the hip, chest or stomach.  There are a variety of submissions and sweeps from this position.  Kimuras, Chokes, Back Takes, Arm Drags, and Leg Locks all show up from this position.

Maintaining distance, and attacking on your terms is the secret to Z Guard.  Framing is one of the MOST important concepts you need to know when you're in the Z half guard.

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Deep Half Guard

Deep Half Guard Position

Due to the variations in half guard, and the ability for a good half guard player to be comfortable in all of them, makes the half guard a very difficult guard to pass.  One of the toughest styles of guard to pass is the half guard knee shield.  Especially if the person on in bottom half guard has a good frame with their knee, elbow, and wrist.

When passing half guard, think about the problem areas you’re facing.  Then, search our library and find a technique or athlete who can help you solve it.

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Half Butterfly Guard

Half Butterfly Guard Position

The Half Butterfly Guard is essentially exactly what it sounds like, half guard with a butterfly hook.  This is a very powerful sweeping guard, and a guard that can be very difficult to pass.

But it is also a great guard to use to enter into a lock lock series.  It is also a great guard that offers a lot of transitions to other various half guard, the butterfly guard, or to get back to your feet.

Tom DeBlass is known to use the half butterfly guard to attack with leg locks.  He sees it as the key to opening up the leg lock game from guard.

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Lock Down Half Guard

Lock Down Half Guard Position

The Lock Down made popular by Eddie Bravo, originated from judo and was primarily used as a stalling position. But, Eddie Bravo found a lot of power in the lock down WITH an underhook that let to a revolution in how people viewed the half guard.

Though the lock down is a powerful half guard position that makes is VERY tough for a person to pass your guard; it can also be quite limiting if you don’t know how to properly play the lock down game.

The underhook is one of the major keys to lock down success.  Yes, there are a few other options without the underhook,  but if you want to learn the lock down game system, ensure you spend time on pummeling for underhooks.

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Underhook Half Guard

Underhook Half Guard Position

This is the standard attacking half guard position that really started the revolution of the half guard game.

You are on your side / on a hip, with an underhook, either grabbing your opponent’s waist, lapel, belt, etc.  From this position getting the back is a popular and tried and true option.  Coming up to your knees, and essentially wrestling your opponent with knee picks, angle grabs and more is also a great option from here.

The underhook is the key to success is half guard overall, almost in all variations.  Learning to have a powerful half guard starts with understanding the power of the underhook.  No one understands this more than 5x World Champion Bernardo Faria.

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Seated Half Guard

Seated Half Guard Position

The seated half guard or sometimes called sit up guard is a variation of half guard when your opponent is standing, and you are grounded.

This position typically requires the control of your opponents lapel or sleeve.  When playing no gi, it is more of a wrestling type of guard position and harder to stay in the position.

Most common attacks are sweeps or transitions to other guard.  One of the most common sweeps are single leg takedown style of sweeps with using the lapel or sleeve grip to further de-stabilize your opponent. 

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HALF GUARD TECHNIQUES

The half guard is a very versatile guard that truly allows you to hit a LARGE variety of submissions and sweeps.  The half guard is a huge world.

It can also be a very difficult guard to pass, especially a BJJ athlete who has a seasoned half guard with a good knee shield (Craig Jones | Tom DeBlass).  Learning how to pass the half guard will also make you a better half guard player.

Below you’ll find a variety of techniques on how to sweep, submission, and pass the half guard.

Half Guard Sweeps

Half Guard Sweeps

Many half guard players use the half guard as a sweeping guard system.  When playing half guard you’ll find there are a variety of ways to off-balance your opponent, spin to his back, or flip him / her on their ass.  Wrestlers also find half guard as a good guard for them due to the wrestling style of guard sweeps that can be found in half guard.

Each half guard player has a unique style of sweeps.  Explore below to find some that work for you, then check out a DVD on those half guard sweeps.

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Half Guard Passes

Half Guard Passing

Due to the variations in half guard, and the ability for a good half guard player to be comfortable in all of them, makes the half guard a very difficult guard to pass.  One of the toughest styles of guard to pass is the half guard knee shield.  Especially if the person on in bottom half guard has a good frame with their knee, elbow, and wrist.

When passing half guard, think about the problem areas you’re facing.  Then, search our library and find a technique or athlete who can help you solve it.

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Half Guard Submissions (Top)

Half Guard Submissions From Top

When you can shut down a half guard players hips, can control their head… a lot of submissions start showing up.  There are your mainstay submissions like the kimura and even americana.  You’ll also find a lot of head and arm chokes like the kata gatame, d’arce chokes, and guillotines.  Add gi chokes into the mix, and you’ve got a great position to attack for half guard submissions.

If you really want to get nuts with submissions from half guard, check out some of our catch wrestlers like Neil Melanson.  That dude is a scary submission machine!

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Half Guard Submissions (Bottom)

Half Guard Submissions From Bottom

Though the half guard is typically known as a sweeping guard, it is now becoming a high percentage submission guard.  It offers you all the upper body submissions that closed guard offers, but also provides the player a lot of movement in the hips which allows them to attack the back and hit a variety of chokes.  The creativity of the half guard player is the only limitation to what submissions can be hit from bottom half guard.

One of the most creative and innovative half guard players for submissions is Craig Jones.  Man, the leg locks he’s hitting and entries he’s creating are making the most experienced half guard players feel stupid.  

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HALF GUARD DVDS

To truly learn Jiu Jitsu, you have to study.  Unfortunately, there’s just not enough time we spend on the mats to get better quickly.  The best suggestion we can offer someone when learning a system like the half guard, is to spend focused time during rolls / in class playing half guard, and then think about what worked, and what didn’t.  Even if you isolate one aspect of the half guard.  Attacking kimuras from half, taking the back, getting into deep half guard, maintaining your knee shield, etc.  Think about it, remember what happened, and then study it.

This is one of biggest tips any top BJJ competitor will tell you.  Study your positions.  Below you’ll find the best half guard players in the world.  Use their years of hard training and success guide you to becoming a half guard ninja.

THE Z GUARD ENCYCLOPEDIA BY CRAIG JONES DVD

THE Z GUARD ENCYCLOPEDIA BY CRAIG JONES

Craig Jones just showed up out of nowhere making his “debut” in EBI, and then just went on a tear! This guy has quickly become one of the best in the world overnight! His secret… the Z Guard.
See Craig used to be a closed guard player, and a triangle master. But as you know, it’s tough to get in closed guard in no gi. Enter the Z Guard. But those naysayers our there told our boy Craig… “Craig! The Z Guard is TRASH! You’re going to get heel hooked by everyone!!!”. But Craig didn’t listen. He knew, that the Z Guard was his way to leg lock victory.

So after countless of hours training, sleepless nights of nursing his poor heels, and facing ridicule from his peers after tapping countlessly to their relentless heel hooks – Craig started to develop the Z Guard to be an unstoppable submission machine!! – ESPECIALLY for leg locks! I know! Insane!

Well my friends, due to Craig’s sacrifice and his genuine passion to share his Z Guard secrets, he’s released this sick DVD series on the Z Guard alone. It’s just gold. If you don’t buy the Z Guard DVD Series, and you play half guard, you might have to question your commitment to improving your Jiu Jitsu.

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HIGH PRECISION HALF GUARD AND REVERSE HALF GUARD BY JAKE MACKENZIE DVD

HIGH PRECISION HALF GUARD AND REVERSE HALF GUARD BY JAKE MACKENZIE

Jake Mackenzie is one of the most innovative modern half guard players in the world. Especially with his nearly un-passable reverse half guard. Reverse half guard is when your opponent is on the “wrong side”. It feels like he can pass, but he can’t, but you kinda feel weird too so it’s just cool that everyone’s being weird in Reverse Half Guard. But not Jake! Jake is NOT weird in Reverse Half Guard. In fact, his Reverse Half Guard is a thing of legend.

This dude has a lot of fucking titles! Like – A lot! The secret to all these titles you may ask? The Reverse Fucking Half Guard!! Learn it..

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HIGH PRECISION HALF GUARD VOL. 2 BY JAKE MACKENZIE DVD

HIGH PRECISION HALF GUARD VOL. 2 BY JAKE MACKENZIE

Craig Jones just showed up out of nowhere making his “debut” in EBI, and then just went on a tear! This guy has quickly become one of the best in the world overnight! His secret… the Z Guard.
See Craig used to be a closed guard player, and a triangle master. But as you know, it’s tough to get in closed guard in no gi. Enter the Z Guard. But those naysayers our there told our boy Craig… “Craig! The Z Guard is TRASH! You’re going to get heel hooked by everyone!!!”. But Craig didn’t listen. He knew, that the Z Guard was his way to leg lock victory.

So after countless of hours training, sleepless nights of nursing his poor heels, and facing ridicule from his peers after tapping countlessly to their relentless heel hooks – Craig started to develop the Z Guard to be an unstoppable submission machine!! – ESPECIALLY for leg locks! I know! Insane!

Well my friends, due to Craig’s sacrifice and his genuine passion to share his Z Guard secrets, he’s released this sick DVD series on the Z Guard alone. It’s just gold. If you don’t buy the Z Guard DVD Series, and you play half guard, you might have to question your commitment to improving your Jiu Jitsu.

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THE NO GI HALF GUARD BY BERNARDO FARIA DVD

THE NO GI HALF GUARD BY BERNARDO FARIA

Bernardo Faria is the fucking man. Happy, always smiling, and just fun to be around. But my God is he just a beast on the mat! 5x World Champion! He’s like the Michael Jordan of BJJ.

And no offense to Bernardo, but it’s like a young stud like Gordon Ryan all jacked, tan and ready to fight! Bernardo is your average dude how just plays the most simple and effective game. His Battle Tested Half Guard.

He released a gi version in 2017 that was a MONSTER hit. We now hit you guys with another masterpiece, the No Gi Battle Tested Half Guard. The Secret To Sweeping Every Single Mother-Fucker In Your Gym – regardless of how young, tough and strong they are. They’re getting swept from half… once you learn the details from Bernardo. You know what to do, click the button bro.

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THE BATTLE TESTED HALF GUARD BY BERNARDO FARIA

THE BATTLE TESTED HALF GUARD BY BERNARDO FARIA

If you have ever asked yourself the question “Man, how can I get better at sweeping from half guard”, then you are in the right place my friend.

As you can see on this page, the half guard is a big fucking beast, and there’s a lot of variations and ways to play half guard. But, how do you know it’s really going to work. Is it “Battle Tested”?

Well, let’s look at the main man of BJJ Fanatics: Bernardo Faria. Yes, he’s in great shape, moves well, but he’s not what you might consider a super hero type of athlete. He’s like us, he’s just your average dude who loves Jiu-Jitsu to his core.

But, have you seen this guy compete?!?! Holy Jesus, he’s a 5x World Champion and an absolute stud on the mat! He is a sweeping machine! Anytime someone gets in his half guard, they’re getting swept, then passed with his over under passing system, and then submitted in a variety of ways. But, the half guard sweep starts it all.

There’s a lot of options on this page for learning the half guard. But… if you really want to develop one of the best half guards in your gym and competition, start here with Bernardo Faria’s Battle Tested Half Guard.

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HALF DOMINATION BY TOM DEBLASS DVD

HALF DOMINATION BY TOM DEBLASS

The half guard can be a challenging game if you don’t have a solid set of rules to follow to build a solid foundation. These rules are the secrets to not having your guard passed and Simplifying & Slowing Down The Half Guard Game. There are a series of grips and movements, even if you don’t have the underhook that will allow you to hit kimuras, foot locks, back takes and chokes, without crazy movements to get there.

His half guard is almost impossible to pass! It’s never been passed in competition! To keep his guard Tom isn’t turning upside down making crazily explosive movements – he has a very even set of principles and moves that anyone can do. The key is in how he teaches and makes the techniques easy to learn.

Tom is a 3x winner of the ADCC Trials, he is a Masters World Champion in BJJ at Black Belt, Pan Black Belt Champ and has won basically everything else. Some of the hottest young grapplers today like Gordon Ryan and Gary Tonon (Tom’s First Black Belt) train with him often.

The key to Tom’s success and his students is his ability to breakdown the half guard position and make it work for everyone. If you’re a half guard player, or just want to prevent your half guard from getting passed like a little bitch, then check out Tom’s Half Guard Domination DVD series.

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THE BUTTERFLY HALF GUARD BY TOM DEBLASS

THE BUTTERFLY HALF GUARD BY TOM DEBLASS

This dude Tom DeBlass has never had his guard passed in competition. Isn’t that some sort of record or something? Did you also know he fought in the UFC? Just recently found that out. Interesting.

But, his half guard is a thing of beauty. If you’re an older dude or someone looking for a solid formula on how to attack from half guard. Check out Tom Deblass.

In this DVD, he shows his half butterfly guard. This is DEFINITELY an under used guard in Jiu Jitsu – AND if you like attacking them legs, and looking for ways to get into leg locks from bottom… the half butterfly guard is your answer my friend. Many leg locks, sweeps and Brazilian women await your domination with the half butterfly guard.

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THE HALF GUARD ANTHOLOGY BY LACHLAN GILES

THE HALF GUARD ANTHOLOGY BY LACHLAN GILES

Where did these Aussies come from! First we got this Craig Jones guy coming out of no where and just fucking people up from half guard in EBI. Then this dude Lachlan Giles dropping some huge knowledge booms on half guard! Since when did the Aussies get so good at half guard!!

Well the secret is really Lachlan. Lachlan Giles is actually Craig Jone’s coach, and one of the biggest secrets to Craig Jones’s success is the half guard… that he learned from Lachlan!

So – let’s say that YOU want to attack the legs, sweep and choke from half guard like our man Craig Jones, then check out Giles DVD on how to destroy limbs and sweep from half guard.

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THE GROUND MARSHAL HALF GUARD BY NEIL MELANSON DVD

THE GROUND MARSHAL HALF GUARD BY NEIL MELANSON

Neil Melanson is no joke. Seriously one of the top submission wrestlers AND coaches in the world. He’s sought after by some of the top MMA fighters and submission grapplers in the world. His unique blend on catch wrestling, Japanese Jujitsu, Sambo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu make him a true all around submission fighters.

What makes Neil unique compared to other “submission wrestlers” is his approach to guard. He doesn’t play guard like you would think. He wrestles, chokes, and snaps from guard. It’s fucking scary what this dude does. His half guard approach is so unique that you’re going to be like a kid on Christmas just waiting to unleash your new half guard skills on your training partners.

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THE COYOTE HALF GUARD BY LUCAS LEITE

THE COYOTE HALF GUARD BY LUCAS LEITE

The secret to the Half Guard according to Word Champion Lucas Leite… is leverage. This is why he consistently competes against and BEATS opponents who easily 30 to 40lbs heavier then him. Why? Because his system of half guard is so efficient that he’s not fighting their mass. He uses his ability to get so tight and connected, that it’s impossible to get him off of you and pass his guard.

This system works for ALL. Doesn’t matter size or strength. But just like all systems, iIn order for this system to work you will need to spend time training it. It doesn’t happen over night. You’re going to have train bro. But remember It is all about leverage and Lucas Leite is the master at creating leverage in the half guard.

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HALF GUARD EXPERTS

Due to the versatility of half guard many of the top grappling athletes in the world (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, No Gi, MMA) prefer that half guard over MANY other guard options. What’s cool about the half guard is that there are many different ways to play it, yet they are all intertwined. Our BJJ Half Guard Experts break down the half guard from a variety of different concepts and variations.

CRAIG JONES BJJ EXPERT

CRAIG JONES

Craig jones is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Lachlan Giles, he fights out of Austrailia and with the Absolute MMA Academy. Craig had an astounding year in 2017 and he took the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community by storm. Although many people claim he had a rapid rise to stardom, there early signs of his future success. For instance Craig won the No Gi worlds as a purple belt in 2015. Craig is known for his vicious lower body attacks, aggressive style, and calm and collected demeanor.

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BERNARDO FARIA BJJ EXPERT

BERNARDO FARIA

Bernardo Faria has long been one of the most dominant fighters in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Bernardo is infamous for implementing simplicity into every aspect of his Jiu Jitsu. Bernardo is a multiple time Black Belt World Champion and has even won the most prestigious title in all of Jiu Jitsu, that being, the Open Class World Title at Black Belt. Commonly known for his trademark over-under passing position, his deep half guard and his single leg half guard, Bernardo has always used these techniques, although his opponent’s know his game, very few have ever been able to stop him from implementing his will. Bernardo is an excellent example of an incredible black belt on and off of the mat. He is known for being one of the kindest human beings in the Jiu Jitsu community; he is extremely open-minded and always learning. Bernardo always wears a big smile because he is truly enthusiastic and passionate about Jiu Jitsu, he is happiest whenever he is on the mat, not only is he one of the best people, and competitors, he is also an excellent instructor.

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TOM DEBLASS BJJ EXPERT

TOM DEBLASS

Tom DeBlass is currently one of the most sought after American grappling athletes and instructors in the world right now. He has developed a broad social media following with his brand of no-nonsense, straight from the heart mix of advice and humor, that he is more than willing to share. This has earned him legions of fans inside the sport and even outside. His combat resume is indicative of a well-seasoned career that has seen him competing at the highest levels for the last decade. With no signs of stopping anytime soon, Tom finds himself teaching, training and competing full time around the world.

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JAKE MACKENZIE BJJ EXPERT

JAKE MACKENZIE

Jake Mackenzie is a Canadian born Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who spent much of his formative years traveling back and forth to Brazil to study BJJ. It wasn’t until he cross paths with Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu during a trip to Rio De Janeiro that he found his first home away from home and eventually came to Miami to train at Cyborg’s new school. After earning his black belt from Cyborg, Jake continued to travel to Rio and with Cyborg’s blessing became part of the GFTeam there in Rio De Janeiro. He is one of the most accomplished competitors in BJJ with majority of his competition victories coming in Brazil.

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NEIL MELANSON GRAPPLING EXPERT

NEIL MELANSON

Neil could easily be considered one of the most dangerous men on the planet. Neil is the head coach of the infamous Blackzillians MMA Team at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center, he has coached some of the best UFC fighters to ever compete to the pinnacle of the sport. Some of the names that he has coached include, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, Matt Mitrione, and the list goes on. Neil used to be the head grappling coach at world famous MMA gym, Xtreme Couture and has notably been referred to as the most dangerous man on the planet by several MMA fighters. Chael Sonnen went as far as to say “Neil would slap Rickson Gracie around like it was easy.’ This is a bold statement made by a bold man, but they say Neil has some of the absolute best grappling in the world. He is a much larger man standing well above 6 feet and weighing well over 200 pounds. Given his physical stature and lack of physical limitations you would assume that he smashes people, this assumption would be wrong. Neil is a guard player through and through, and many say that they have seen him grapple multiple time world champions and ADCC veterans and toy with them. Former UFC Champion, Vitor Belfort who is also a black belt in Jiu Jitsu stated that “Neil could triangle anybody in any room.”

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LACHLAN GILES BJJ EXPERT

LACHLAN GILES

Lachlan Giles is one of the preeminent black belt competitors from Australia. He is head coach at Absolute MMA and has been instrumental in the development of such standout athletes as Craig Jones and Livia Gluchowska. He is well known as a highly technical coach and instructor and also holds a PhD in physiotherapy.

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LUCAS LEITE BJJ EXPERT

LUCAS LEITE

Lucas Leite is high level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt competitor and 6 times World Champion. Lucas is a black belt under Leonardo Vieira. Lucas is famous for his half guard skills. He currently represents the Check Mat BJJ Academy, one of the most successful teams among the juggernauts of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Lucas has been a regular presence in BJJ and submission grappling podiums around the world competing sometimes as a heavyweight (under 94 kg / 221 lbs), two weight categories above his natural weight (around 78 – 80 kg). In 2007 Lucas Leite moved from his native Brazil to the United States where he formed one of the strongest Checkmat academy camps in the USA. The list of Lucas’ accolades is long. Some of his most notable titles are: World Champion (2007, 2005 brown belt), World No Gi Champion ( 2014, 2011, 2009 ), Pan American Champion, Grapplers Quest Pro Division Champion, Sao Paulo State Champion, and European Champion (2006).

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HALF GUARD VIDEOS

You could spend hours trying to find the best half guard videos for sweeps and submissions. But these below are some of our favorites that we keep going back to over and over to refine the half guard. These videos feature our BJJ Fighters exclusively on BJJ Fanatics.

Bottom Half Guard Defensive Overview

Neil Melanson breaks down the importance of creating a defensive structure in bottom half guard / z guard position. He breaks down how to not get easily passed, especially by the cradle pass (opponent attacking head / neck to pass the half guard)

Best Half Guard Player In The World Shows An Easy Sweep From Half Guard – Bernardo Faria

This is one of the tried and true half guard sweeps by the man, the myth, the legend – Bernardo Faria

Half Guard Master Shows His Dogfight Sweep – Lucas Leite

Lucas Leite shows us one of this favorite half guard sweeps, the dog fight sweep. You’ve seen Lucas hit it in tons of competitions and is one of his go to half guard sweeps.

Getting Smashed In Half Guard? Tom DeBlass Shows Alternate Recovery From Being Smashed

Getting smashed in half guard is one of the biggest problems you will face as a half guard player. The master of the defensive half guards is Tom DeBlass who shows you how to defend and protect, and then attack from the half guard.

Deep Half To Throw Away Trash To Crucifix by Matheus Diniz

Matheus sets up a solid half guard foundation using his knee shield and arm frames, maintaining a solid distance from the opponent. After kicking through and seeking a strong underhook, Diniz will tuck himself under the partner to secure deep half. By continuing to unbalance his partner, Diniz is able to finish the trash sweep and set up potential back attacks.

Entry Into Knee Twist Half Guard by Jake Mackenzie

Jake Mackenzie is a master at understanding the mechanics of a dominating half guard. This video goes over how to deal with one of the toughest half guard passes and passing positions. Jake uses this to enter into his powerful sweeping half guard, the knee twist half guard.