Positional Breakdown: Half-Guard

Positional Breakdown: Half-Guard

Following the positional breakdown of the guard with the half-guard only makes sense, because more often than not when you break open the guard to pass you will get caught in the half-guard. Do not fret though, because half-guard opens up a whole new array of moves to pull off whether you are on top or bottom.

From the bottom, you really have a few ways to get out of the half guard by either working your under hook, getting to your knees for a takedown, working a sweep, or delving into deep half. Depending on which leg your opponent has free, you want to take your opposite side arm and go under their arm and grab their belt; this is called an under hook. With that under hook, you can start to “shrimp” or hip out, and if you want to go back to guard you pull your leg that is between his out and move it back around his free leg to reattain guard. If you want to be a bit trickier, you can elevate your under hook to throw your opponent’s body up, spin out, sit up, and take your opponent’s back.

To get to your knees, you work the same under hook and as you hip out you just turn your body over to get to your knees. You will have one of their legs trapped and can use it to take them down and get on top. In terms of sweeps, you want to get your under hook, grab the pants at the knee with your other hand, and then switch your hips underneath your opponent to roll them over. There are other sweeps but that is the simplest to try at first.

Deep half will not use the under hook, instead you will be diving underneath with the arm that is on the side your opponent has his leg. You just continue to inch your way under until the momentum has shifted your way, and either go out the back or roll your opponent over to end up on top. You have varied options from on bottom, but your goal is to either get the under hook to make your way back to guard or use a sweep to end up on top.

From top in half-guard, you really only have one goal which is to pass guard. In terms of passes, you will either be going directly to mount or taking side-control. First and foremost from top in half-guard, you want to lace your arm on the side that you have your leg free behind the back of your opponent’s head. This will allow you to apply pressure to keep them from working an under hook or getting to their hip. From there you want to take your free leg and place the knee right in your opponent’s hip but lean back so you are almost sitting on your butt.

You have two options here. First is the easier of the two where you take your foot, from the leg that has the knee in the hip, place it on the thigh of your opponent to break their guard. Once broken, you can pull your leg out and get side-control. The other option is to walk your leg, that is stuck in their half-guard, up to where the pressure becomes too much and breaks your opponent’s half-guard. Once that happens you can turn the knee, bring it to the mat on the opposite side of their body, and take mount. This is a simple breakdown of the easiest moves from half-guard. There is still a ton of options out there so remember to try new things when you are getting your training in.

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