5 Things to Avoid In the Half-Guard
I have been doing Half-Guard since 2003, back when I was blue belt, and since then I have been studying all types of Half-Guard and every detail that jiu jitsu practitioners should know in that position.
When I started playing half-guard, for example, I used to do what I call single-leg half-guard. In this position I grab my opponent’s lapel underneath his hip, turn on the knee and go for the single or double leg. In this position I quickly learned that I should always prevent my opponent from getting the under hook, because if he has the under hook he completely stops my position. But in my opinion, what makes BJJ really fun is the fact that we can always learn from our mistakes, so once I started getting frustrated because many people were getting the under hook on me, I realized that I needed an option from there, and that was when I started doing the deep half-guard. Now I always try to go back and forth with the single leg half-guard and the deep half-guard.
– IF YOU JUST STARTED PLAYING HALF-GUARD, AVOID GIVING UP THE UNDERHOOK: I believe that the easiest way to start doing half-guard is using knee shields (Z-Guard). There, you can maintain distance between you and your opponent and you can start developing your half-guard game without being “smashed”.
– FOCUS ON ADJUSTING THE SWEEPS BEFORE YOU TRY TO SWEEP: This is probably the biggest mistake I see people doing, when they are playing half-guard. Sometimes they try to sweep too fast, without getting the perfect grips and the perfect timing. Try to think about that: if your positions are 100% adjusted you might have an 80% chance to finish the sweep well, but if your position is just 50% adjusted you might have only a 30% chance to finish the sweep well. So why would you try to sweep quickly, if you haven’t gotten the right grips yet? Plus, once you fail on one sweep attempt you have spent a lot of energy, so it’s better to take a little longer to sweep focusing on doing it right, rather than trying to do it too fast and doing it wrong.
– KIMURA – DONT LET YOUR OPPONENT GET CLOSE TO IT: This is probably one of the questions I receive most. What should I do if my opponent tries a kimura on me? Well, if he gets the kimuras grip, you are already late in the position; you should have stopped it before. I have a way for example in the deep half-guard to stop the kimuras that has been working a lot for me. Basically what I do is once my opponent touches my arm trying to go to the kimura, I bump him forward, forcing him to post his hands on the matt, or else he gets swept, so he has to give up the kimura. I will post a video about this soon. But the most important thing to understand is that you should never let your opponent lock the kimura to try to escape from it, you should always try to stop it right when it’s coming.
– IF HE GETS THE UNDERHOOK, DONT GET DESPERATE: This is a very important part, many times I see people trying to play half-guard, but once the person on top gets the under hook, the guy on bottom gets completely desperate and starts moving frantically to try to get out of there. Try to understand what is going on and what can happens as a result of the under hook, but remember that the person on top hasn’t passed your guard yet, he just has the under hook. Still there is a lot of work for him to do, so if you get desperate in this position it’s just gonna help him…
– IF HE PLACES THE SHOULDER ON YOUR FACE, TRY TO GET USED TO THAT PRESSURE: This is a very important point. If you are one of those that once the guy puts their shoulder on your face, you open up everything to try to get out of there, half-guard might be a tough game for you if you don’t get used to it. Shoulder pressure is tough to handle, I agree, but its not the end of the world, and if you try to escape from there without doing the right moves as we just talked before in the last tip, its just gonna make things worst, so once again, I would try to remain patient, work on the right techniques, take the right grips, and little by little start adjusting the position, making it a little better for you and little worse for him. There are some situations in half guard in which there is no way to get worse, so you might just stay there patiently and wait for the right opportunity to make it better, but if you try to move quickly, then it can get worse.
Another thing that I always try to do, is always to connect every position to my half-guard, which it is my A-Game. So I always try to bring my opponent to my half-guard from every type of position. On my instructional “Escapes From Everywhere 4 DVD Set” (click here to check out) for example, I show 47 different escapes, and most of them going straight to the half-guard. So I believe that it is a huge help, when you can find your A-Game on all type of situations.
Here you can watch one of my favorite highlights about Half-Guard: