What is the Half Guard?

The Half Guard is a funny position.

Once upon a time it was a position of last resort. Something that you would try to achieve if your opponent was passing your guard. A last-ditch attempt to stop him from getting to a truly dominant position.

My, how things have changed in the last 20 years…

The paradox of the Half Guard lies in the fact that you have one of your opponent’s legs trapped between both of your own legs. On the one hand that means that he’s halfway past your guard – which is a disadvantage to you – but on the other hand you can insert yourself deep under your opponent’s center of gravity, which makes sweeping him much easier (if you know what to do).

BJJ pioneers like Roberto “Gordo” Correa took advantage of the sweeping power of the the Half Guard and evolved it from a position of desperation to a powerful, offensive weapon.

And the evolution continues; every year a new crop of competitors continues to refine this position, developing new sweeps, strategies and attacks from here. In fact if you look at the statistics from ADCC or the Mundials you’ll see that the Half Guard is now responsible for a huge number of sweeps and reversals.

If you compete then you absolutely need to understand the basics of the offensive Half Guard. It may not be part of your game but your opponents will sure as heck use it on you!

In the 1 minute, 49 second video below I go over the basics of the Half Guard and share the single-most important thing you can do with your body positioning to put you back on the offensive from this formerly ‘inferior’ position.

Want to go deeper into the Half Guard? Here are some more resources to have a look at…

A glossary of the Half Guard, including pictures of the main Half Guard variations.

A detailed masterclass breakdown of all things Half Guard, including sweeps, submissions, counters, recounters, drills, and strategies.

The Grapplearts Guard Sweeps app in the iTunes store and/or the Grapplearts Guard Sweeps for Android with 26 of my favourite guard sweeps broken down with easy to follow, step by step instruction.

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