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BJJGround Forum >> Is half guard a sub-standard guard..?


5/14/13 6:07 PM
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Stubbsy
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FRAT Warning...

OK, I'm coming to some conclusions with regards to my guard and I need some help from you guys. I have used half guard pretty much exclusively over the past 2 and a half years. During this time I've added in some sweeps from other guards in specific situations, but 90% of my game is half guard.

Now, I've been watching instructionals from Ryan Hall and - my current fave - the Mendes Bros. They talk a lot about the 'range' of guards, and although I have always liked the concept - like many things in BJJ - the reality of it just went over my head. However, as my experience increases, I'm getting some more understanding of this stuff (I think), and I'm starting to see that half guard may not be the best guard from which to grow my BJJ career...

Half guard is a close range guard. Even with a knee shield, the top player is heavily connected to the bottom player with lots of points of contact through which to apply weight/pressure. The top player has no need to lean to get hold of crucial lapel/trouser/sleeve grips, and spinal contortion through crossface/underhook is a primary method to pass. Plus, the efficacy of half guard is reliant upon the bottom player remaining on their side. Caio Terra starts many of his passes by standing up and squaring the hips, cue the awful crushing knee slides with - again - lots of top control pressure. The videos doing the rounds from Leandro Lo are great examples of this. I am out with a lower back injury (I suspect through compression and sprawl passing) and have a constant niggle in the trapezius from spinal contortion passes utilising the crossface.

So after watching this...

http://youtu.be/cOpifviRM9E

I have begun to want to change my style completely. Demente is constantly on the end of Rafa's feet, which completely nullifies any top body control passing. So there are no cross-faces/underhook passing techniques available, because his hips are kept at a manageable distance. Pressure is exerted through the feet, but the DLR/RDLR hooks frustrate stable movement, and these are made far more effective by the ankle grip and belt grip. The top player is connected through connections made by the bottom player, whereas in half guard the top player will always be able to exert weight through the bottom leg, limiting movement. Basically this is a long range guard in effect, and it's far more comfortable for the bottom player.

Here's another favourite of mine - the heavy wrestler with ridiculous base (hate these in half guard) - being schooled by Keenan with the same grips and controls...

http://youtu.be/WsdACh832Ik

Are long range guards the future..? Do close range guards allow far more opportunities for passing because of the lack of control of distance..? Where does butterfly sit..?

Basically I'm at a cross roads and I need some advice from you guys!
5/14/13 6:07 PM
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Stubbsy
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Oh, and if a blue could help with the vids, that would be ace.
5/14/13 6:25 PM
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Pantarei
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I think you are absolutely right.

Distance management is a mini révolution in bjj bottom game. It has allways existed but the principals are really big nowadays in modern jiujitsu.

I feel it is really a better game, especially in the gi.

Distance guard and standing passes are really efficient Phone Post
5/14/13 7:25 PM
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Moke
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Half guard is a great place to get your full guard back.
5/14/13 7:34 PM
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mrgoodarmbar
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yup, but it 's not necessarily keep them at a distance, it's distance mgmt. in both directions in and out.

If guards were put into a waterfall, it would go...closed guard, full open guard, 1/2 guard,...passed. I saw waterfall b/c it's easier to go in one direction than the other. You can always go from full guard to 1/2 guard. The opposite can be difficult. Why just give the top guy 1/2 guard? Make him earn his way past your full guard.

My other thought regarding full guards that control in/out distance is the choice of using a hand for lapel grip or going dbl sleeve grips. I think this decision depends upon just how much of a size difference there is...When you go with a lapel grip, you're allowing a free arm to go against a leg. At some point, the size difference is so great that your opponents arm is stronger than your leg. Your opponent also will likely have a large and strong neck reducing the threat of chokes from that grip making it only a distance mgmt grip. So there are diminishing returns to using the lapel grip compared to the dbl sleeve grip.

5/14/13 8:04 PM
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markus
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no- but easily misunderstood.

couple things.....the range of guard..check out gracie academy guard stage 1,1.5,2,3,4,5. a nice basic understanding to progress from.

2nd thing, if your 1/2 is getting underhooked, and crossfaced, then you let them get to far in. and sounds like your going for deep half guard, or a 1/2 guard lock down to stop any movement....truth is your already behind in position. they already have side control, just the leg is stuck.

3rd, on the mendes video, he is playing 1/2 guard from 1:10-1:50. notice he is not getting crushed.

you asked this question :Do close range guards allow far more opportunities for passing because of the lack of control of distance..? the big statement here is CONTROL THE DISTANCE.

when playing any guard, you should be controlling the distance.

on the keenan video at 0:48s. check out that knee keeping rustam out. it sets up de la riva / reverse de la riva / and his butterfly / and the occasional 1/2.

just my .02$

thanks for the vids.
5/14/13 8:30 PM
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nogidavid
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i don't believe in half guard

5/14/13 8:32 PM
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mrgoodarmbar
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markus - no- but easily misunderstood.

couple things.....the range of guard..check out gracie academy guard stage 1,1.5,2,3,4,5. a nice basic understanding to progress from.

2nd thing, if your 1/2 is getting underhooked, and crossfaced, then you let them get to far in. and sounds like your going for deep half guard, or a 1/2 guard lock down to stop any movement....truth is your already behind in position. they already have side control, just the leg is stuck.

3rd, on the mendes video, he is playing 1/2 guard from 1:10-1:50. notice he is not getting crushed.

you asked this question :Do close range guards allow far more opportunities for passing because of the lack of control of distance..? the big statement here is CONTROL THE DISTANCE.

when playing any guard, you should be controlling the distance.

on the keenan video at 0:48s. check out that knee keeping rustam out. it sets up de la riva / reverse de la riva / and his butterfly / and the occasional 1/2.

just my .02$

thanks for the vids.

never saw any 1/2 guard from mendes there... He played a leg lasso type spider guard.

There was no 1/2 guard from keenan either. It was dlr and reverse dlr.

I think another important factor that you didn't mention, is the ability to breathe comfortably and the struggle to keep pressure off of your diaphragm
5/14/13 9:23 PM
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EazyG
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Marcelo once cautioned me away from using halg guard too often. Especially for bigger guys.

He basically said its a good way to get stuck under your opponent and not be able to execute.

Now I prefer butterfly, X, DLR, 1-X and spider...
5/14/13 10:48 PM
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misterw
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I've been basing my game on it. I don't think it's substandard. Caio Terra says it is the most diverse guard, so many ways to play half guard.

I've found the knee shield to be a very effective way of keeping the weight off. And your hips are much more mobile than in full guard.

I've always found it much easier to attack with than full guard, where things can sometimes stall out for me.

5/14/13 10:50 PM
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Baroquen Record
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It's only half of a guard. Therefore, it is only half as good.
5/14/13 11:01 PM
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misterw
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Lots of good attacking possibilities. Deep half, waiter sweeps. Single legs staring you in the face. All of Eddie Bravo's stuff. Plus all kinds of upside down nonsense.
5/14/13 11:13 PM
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Muffinho
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misterw - Lots of good attacking possibilities. Deep half, waiter sweeps. Single legs staring you in the face. All of Eddie Bravo's stuff. Plus all kinds of upside down nonsense.

There is a reason no one at the lighter weights uses deep half anymore.


Traditional halfguard is dead. It's all reverse dlr now.
5/14/13 11:14 PM
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Gward is good
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The downside to the distance open guards can be control and connection. It is harder for the opponent to smash, but it can be also be harder to keep a strong connection. The connection from closed or half is good to feel their movement and adapt accordingly. Good guard recomposing is an absolute necessity when playing at a distance. Conditioning, speed and flexibility are also important factors. That being said, I prefer foot in hip, spider, de la riva and x-guards when possible.
5/15/13 12:19 AM
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misterw
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Muffinho - 
misterw - Lots of good attacking possibilities. Deep half, waiter sweeps. Single legs staring you in the face. All of Eddie Bravo's stuff. Plus all kinds of upside down nonsense.

There is a reason no one at the lighter weights uses deep half anymore.


Traditional halfguard is dead. It's all reverse dlr now.

I don't think what the current world champs have turned to this year is all that relevant to what will work for the average grappler against most people in the world. If it was good enough for the Ryan Halls, Jeff Glovers, and Caio Terras of a few years ago, then I'm not worried about limiting myself. If my game was only as good as the elite of 5 years ago (yeah right), I'd be ecstatic.
5/15/13 12:55 AM
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htownbjj
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We have a local blackbelt who learned his halfguard directly from Lucas Leite. He's won a ton of tournament matches, and he's fantastic at that position.

However, from my observations, he has incredible toughness, core strength, tenacity, and ability to withstand pressure -- which comes in the form of nasty crossfaces and general squishing. He has a compact, stout body type that's well suited to the position.

I tried to play that game for a long time, but I don't have the physical traits or toughness to withstand the beating required. I believe if I had devoted myself to perfecting it, I would develop greater sensitivity/timing and avoid some of the crushing pressure. But it would have meant a great deal of abuse in the process.

Switching to more of a butterfly/X/DLR style has spared me countless painful rolls. Once in a while, I'll go back to it to stay sharp, but guys over 220 can really give me a bad time. Whereas in butterfly, that crushing pressure from big guys makes them relatively effortless to flip.

For the long haul, unless you just love the position, I don't think half is the best option for long and healthy grappling career.
5/15/13 1:44 AM
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Shinsplint
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good discussion. Thanks for the topic and opinions.

Playing half guard is really rough on my neck, thanks for the suggestions/insight.
5/15/13 2:30 AM
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GARRA
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I love half and have the smashed up ears and face to prove it Phone Post
5/15/13 2:59 AM
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dokomoy
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One of the biggest problems with half guard these days is that a lot of it doesn't work that well against people who pass with one knee up and almost all of it is useless against people who pass standing. At my old gym I swept a lot of people from 1/2, then when I switched to a gym where almost everyone passed standing my 1/2 guard became almost entirely useless. As more and more people start to pass standing it makes less and less sense to focus on half guard.
5/15/13 3:10 AM
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Akston
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. Phone Post
5/15/13 3:32 AM
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Matthieu Battle
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i'm a frail old man and haffgward is my goto game. now, i don't insist on the half when i should be playing something else, so my half is really a liberal mix of RDLR, x, 1 leg x, deep half, knee shield, close underhook, and butterfly. i even occasionally throw in a lasado here and there.

i love it and i'm pretty good at managing the distance, moving in and out and taking the hips. i have about 4-5 sweeps that are pretty much unstoppable (relatively speaking for a weak old purple belt) if i get my grips. doesn't mean i don't occasionally get smashed. fought a guy at a tourney recently who crushed me. CRUSHED me. but generally, i sweep and pass without too much trouble.

gonna add one thing that i do that i don't see a lot of other people doing, that works wonders for me when the dooky gets deep. say your partner has begun to knee cut and you're a beat behind so no RDLR hook for you, it's just hang onto the foot with pinched knees and hope for the best. my thing - lock their knee to your chest, give a quick bump to their ass and transfer their foot to your TOP leg. the back of your knee over their ankle, your calf under their instep, and pull your heel to your butt. i find this gives me a lot of control and frees up my bottom leg so i can come up to a single, or drag my hips under to go the other way, all without losing their leg. this little thing has made a huge difference in my 'emergency' half and has actually turned that into a pretty strong position for me. one of my better sweeps is from that 90% passed spot.
5/15/13 4:23 AM
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Stubbsy
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I actually love that 90% position. It's one of my strongest sweep positions. Just want to mention that my whole base in my game uses the knee shield so i don't allow the cross face or underhook at all. In fact I have some sleeve drags from attempts for both. The problem is that once a pass gets close to completing they are so close they have top control of the guard players body. If the person is on the end of the feet gets close to getting passed the feet, there is still space to re-compose. This space doesn't exist in half guard.

I'm not disparaging half guard by the way, just thinking long term. It makes sense to work with guard that has better distance management, because of the health/longevity and efficiency reasons. I ain't going to be world champion, so with the time I have to train, I want the best bang for my buck. I reckon I will get 'higher interest' on a guard that creates better distance.

Thanks for the discussion, this is gonna be a good thread :-) Totally agree with the point made above btw, about maintaining contacts to ensure an effective RDLR/DLR/Spider. I do however think that this is true of all guards. Phone Post
5/15/13 5:40 AM
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Shemhazai
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I totally agree with the OP, even though I've considered myself a half guard guy before. These days I follow the Atos principles (as taught by Mendes bros. and Galvão on their sites) pretty religiously, so when playing on bottom, I always have at least my knees (if not a foot) between me and my opponent. I also employ their elbow-knee connection principle as much as possible, creating an un-smashable frame.

Now, I do sometimes use 'hugging' half guard positions, but even then I try not to violate the principles of distance management. Some examples:

I may sit up on a single leg, either shooting an underhook off of the knee shield or sitting up to hug the leg from DLR. In these situations I keep the opponent's weight off me either by torquing the knee/angling off to the outside like Lucas Leite, or if the knee is up, going shin-on-shin with the butterfly hook to keep him from settling. I also use tornado guard a lot, which seems not to manage distance at all, but by the nature of the inverted position, the knee of the inside leg is always between my opponent's body and mine, and should he sprawl his weight onto it, I switch to a modified omoplata sweep that has my knee shelved inside. Lastly, I use deep half guard to escape a lot of bad positions, but I never stay hugging the leg, I either set up the waiter sweep, bringing the outside knee inside for a safer and more powerful position (either to sweep or set up full X-guard), or at the very least establishing some kind of butterfly hook.

Basically, in every open guard position, if I don't have some kind of knee shield, foot on hip or butterfly hook (or I'm deep as hell on a single, back take, sub etc.), I'm doing it wrong.
5/15/13 7:10 AM
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misterw
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Some styles of half guard are certainly tougher on you physically than others. I found Eddie Bravo's style to be a bit punishing against bigger guys. But the knee shield has worked very well to keep people's weight off of me until I'm ready to go for something.

Seems like you have to learn guards to work against standing passing opponents (DLR etc.) for ANY guard that doesn't trap the top guy at the same time (rubber guard, mostly closed guard), so that criticism doesn't seem unique to half guard.
5/15/13 7:33 AM
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Stubbsy
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misterw - Some styles of half guard are certainly tougher on you physically than others. I found Eddie Bravo's style to be a bit punishing against bigger guys. But the knee shield has worked very well to keep people's weight off of me until I'm ready to go for something.

Seems like you have to learn guards to work against standing passing opponents (DLR etc.) for ANY guard that doesn't trap the top guy at the same time (rubber guard, mostly closed guard), so that criticism doesn't seem unique to half guard.

Perhaps the title should have been: 'Are long range guards the best..?' Rather than singling out another guard to discuss negatively. It isn't so much the standing passing I have problems with, because I use deep half and RDLR quite a lot. These always come from half guard though. IMHO deep half guard - although I have used it A LOT - is not a nice position to use because their contact between themselves and the floor, is your chest and shoulder. However you look at it, they are sitting on your upper body. I think deep half is no where near as secure a position as it used to be because people are learning how to defend it, so it's far safer to use it as a transition position rather than a guard itself. I love it for getting out of mount for instance. If someone manages to crossface/underhook whilst you are in deep half, and then they sprawl, sweet jesus it is crippling. I fully appreciate it shouldn't happen if you do it perfectly, but mistakes will happen in any roll.

In X guard the pressure is away from top body control as you hold the distance with your legs. Again, IMHO, this is far more efficient because it doesn't not allow the top player to use top body controls when passing. Long range guards are simply better for the body/health/safety of the guard player.


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