How to Transition from Half to Closed Guard


The half guard is a sophisticated tool in the grappler’s toolbox that can be used to defend, sweep your opponents, or submit them outright.

But just because you’ve got a hammer doesn’t make the whole world a nail. And that means that you can’t rely on any one guard position as the be-all-and-end-all.

Even if you’re a half guard wizard you’ll still end up facing opponents who know all your tricks, or are particularly gifted at shutting down half guard. And if that’s the case it might not be the right thing to keep pushing, pushing, pushing with the half guard.

Instead it might be time to bail out of the position altogether!

Along these lines I found the subject choice of the video below particularly interesting. (It’s a Grapplearts Field Report filmed by my friend Mark Mullen with Roberto ‘Gordo’ Correia in Brazil.

Now Gordo is widely acknowledged as the originator of the offensive half guard in BJJ. A knee injury early in his career made it impossible for him to play in the regular guard, so he improvised and explored the half guard instead.  He invented many techniques to sweep and submit his opponent from what had formerly been considered to be a very inferior position.

But now here’s a video with Gordo – the half guard master himself – showing how to get OUT of half guard and back into the closed guard.

Of course we’ve already talked about one good reason to bail out of half guard; namely if it just isn’t working for you against a certain opponent.

But there are additional reasons to drill and train the technique in the video below.

Using the butterfly hook in this way – to lift your opponent up and then drop him back down into your closed guard – ALSO trains your leg dexterity and the movements you’ll need to perform many more advanced sweeps and techniques from the half guard.

Once you master the ‘basic’ version of the technique below you’ll find ways to use that same butterfly hook lift to:

  • Sweep your opponent from half guard
  • Take your opponent’s back from half guard
  • Defend against armlock and Kimura attacks from the bottom
  • And more…

So if you’ve ever found yourself in half guard, regardless of whether you go to that position intentionally or find yourself pinned there by an opponent intent on smashing his way past your guard, you HAVE to learn this technique.

It’s one of those investments that you won’t be sorry you made!

Check it out.

Additional Guard Resources

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