BJJ Basics: The Fundamentals Of Half Guard

By February 7, 2014November 9th, 2021No Comments
BJJ guard passing

Half guard is a complex position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Today, we’re going to look at half guard from both the top position and the bottom position as a means to create a deeper understanding of how this position works.

When you are fighting from Top Half Guard (some BJJ practitioners may see this position as Half Mount), it is vital that you control your training partner with a strong Cross Face and that you establish an Under Hook.

Many people fighting from Top Half Guard forget about these two key elements.  Without the Cross Face and without the Under Hook, your training partner on the bottom can easily sweep you, get your back or submit you.

If you are fighting from Top Half Guard, always fight for an Under Hook and always Cross Face your training partner.

A common problem is that when people are fighting from bottom Half Guard, they forget to defend against the Cross Face and they forget to fight for the underhook.

The Cross Face and the Under Hook are what the person on top wants.

If the person on top has these two things, then it is much easier for him to Pass your Half Guard and it also prevents most of your attacks from the Bottom.

When you are fighting from the Half Guard, always prevent the Cross Face and always fight to get the Under Hook.

Now let’s look at guard passing to grasp a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of Half Guard.  It is vital for the person fighting from bottom Half Guard to prevent the cross face and to command the underhook.

If the person on top Half Guard has the cross face and the underhook; then, it’s possible for them to pass your Guard.

A simple yet effective Pass for the Half Guard is to control the person on the bottom with a Cross Face and an Underhook and then raise your hips to the sky, as high as possible.

Doing so will completely straighten both your legs and make it very difficult for the person on the bottom to control you with their Half Guard.

From here you can slide your knee to mount or cross side.

The most common mistake when executing this Guard Pass is not bringing the hips up high enough.  Many people will bring their hips up off the mat; but, the idea is to have your hips so high that your legs are practically vertical.  When the legs are vertical, then it is easy to slide your leg out from his Half Guard.

Fighting for hand position and control of the neck is one of the key principles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Once the cross face and the underhook are established for the person on top Half Guard, there’s multiple Guard passes they can attack with.

Another common way to pass the Half Guard is to control your training partner with a Cross Face and an Underhook, and then bring the foot of the leg that is being controlled by your training partner’s Half Guard up close to his hip.

When you have your foot close to your training partner’s hip, the knee of the leg that is being controlled by his Half Guard will be pointing to the sky.

Because your knee is so high, it becomes very difficult to maintain a strong Half Guard.

From here, simply push his knee off of your knee and slide into Top Mount.

The problem occurs when you do not bring the foot close enough to the hip.

Many people will bring their foot close to the hip and thus pop their knee up; but, they’ll have trouble pushing their training partner’s knee off of their leg.  This is because their foot is not close enough to their training partner’s hips and their knee is not up high to the sky

Bring your foot as close to your training partner’s hip and the Guard Pass will be far more successful.

Let’s talk a little bit about on how to move when you’re trying to attack from bottom Half Guard.

Bridging from Bottom Half Guard is a fantastic way to sweep your opponent or to simply throw him off balance him for a split moment to set up your attacks or to dislodge his control of your neck or torso.

Bridging is one of the cardinal movements in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

The problem is that many people fail to trap their training partner’s leg as they bridge and the man on top gets a free pass to mount or top cross side.

It is important to trap his leg with your shin as you bridge from Bottom Half Guard.

This, of course, means that you are only bridging with one leg and you’ll have less explosiveness, but the additional safety measure is far more valuable than that little bit of extra power.

Largely this article looked at Half Guard from the principle of how to maintain the Guard and how to pass the Guard.  Guard passing and Guard maintaining is one of the core strategies of BJJ.

Ritchie Yip

Ritchie Yip

Ritchie Yip is the Head Instructor for InFighting Training Centers located in Downtown Vancouver and Brentwood Burnaby. InFighting Training Centers offers programs in Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bootcamp Conditioning Classes and Personal Training