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Half Guard Control Fundamentals


Half Guard is one of those positions that every newer student to Jiu-Jitsu eventually gravitates towards. Whether it’s obtained purposely, or accidentally, everyone will experience it. Many upper level players have developed the position into a higher standard. Learning to play the various sub-positions within the Half Guard game will make you a formidable opponent. So from a control perspective, let’s look at some things the bottom player needs to learn and understand.


When in the bottom Half Guard, almost always try to be on your side. Being flat while on your back will allow your opponent to control your body better. Plus, being flat will help the opponent smash you and unleash some very dominating pressure. A good thing to remember is being on your side will also allow you to have better hip movement, especially with shrimping.


Your hands should be up and out in front of your face, with your elbows tucked in. The bottom arm should work to help protect against the cross-face (where their arm wraps under your head/neck). Your top arm should either be framing across the opponent’s neck with your hand on their shoulder, or it should be actively trying to get the underhook. Getting the first underhook is a general rule of Half Guard. Don’t allow the opponent to get their underhook if you can. Plus, once you get the underhook drive your arm up under their armpit to prevent them from getting their underhook. Don’t be lazy about this.


Keeping your legs active is another important principle when in the bottom Half Guard. Ideally, getting your inside leg over the opponent’s leg is important. However, transitioning to other leg positions helps open up the position even further. Moving from inside leg triangle to outside leg triangle to lockdown to Butterfly Half can create a boost in this position that will have your opponent wishing they were never there. Plus, getting your top leg over the opponent’s leg and dragging it out will help to drop their hip. This can produce some very effective sweeping options.


Lastly, keep your head tucked. This helps prevent the cross-face. However, it also allows you to move into the more advanced Deep Half Guard position as well. Be aware of the opponent trying to slip their arm down alongside your neck to apply a nasty choke. If you get caught it one it’ll be hard to forget it.


Learn. Drill. Roll. TRANSFORM!

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