Next Edge Academy

Half Guard

Position Description

This is a standard position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where one of your legs is locked around your opponent’s leg and the tops of your feet are locked behind them. Half Guard is the most versatile position in BJJ with several variations including

Why would I end up here?

Often times you end up in half guard from a takedown. Thats not the only way though think of it as the in between position. You can get there from almost any position. Then from there you can get to about any other position.

What are my techniques from here?

Wrestler Pass from Half Guard

Old School Sweep from Half Guard


  • Regular Half Guard
  • Z Guard/Knee Shield/93 Guard
  • Reverse Half  

What should I be thinking when you are in top Half Guard?

  • Don’t allow your opponent to get head control
  • Keep good posture
  • You should be able to look at the ceiling and the floor
  • Keep your hands on your opponent unless you are passing with your arms out for base.
  • You Should be trying to get your opponent’s hips flat
    • Get Underhook (High against Non-Z Guard) Get them flat on the mat
  • Low around the Belly against Z Guard) Get them tilted
  • You should be looking for the underhook with the trapped side
  • Watch the Non-Trapped Knee it needs to be back
  • Alternate Position – Shoulder pressure on the face and shift the belly button in, Stay on your toes         
  • Alternate Position – Reverse Kesa with opponent arm High – Keep your head low under the armpit Control the Belt
  • If he has underhook Remove the Post arm by posting under it and push them down
  • Almost always rewind the hips after the pass

What should I be thinking when I have someone in Half Guard?


Long Range

  • Chest bigger and maximum distance between your head and their arm to  make them reach
  • Create angles off to the side – This is often called not staying “Flat”  – NEVER on your back – Always on your side
  • Bottom Knee Up so it block your opponent’s non-trapped knee
  • Top Knee in Shoulder and Pec
  • Top Toes on the bottom foot

Medium Range

  • Head tight to the underhook side with top of the head up to the ceiling
  • Head and hip on the same side
  • Use Knee pummeling to get inside the Underhook if your opponent has an underhook
  • Frame bottom hand on the bicep or on the mat
  • Cross lapel grip – Top arm goes thumb up with arm inside opponents far collar

Short Range

  • Top ear to their belly button
  • Trap with outside leg to pull inside leg out to full guard
  • Underhook arm holds the hip tight
  • Hide your head by playing tight

What is the Additional Information I should know about Half Guard.

Head Positioning

From Top

  • Your head should be up. Forehead looking forward, not looking down. During Starting Position. On some passes, your head will be down.

From Bottom

  • Head positioning is super important from the bottom. You have to keep your head tight to them or elongated away so they can’t control it. Think head to their chest or head away.

Leg Positioning

From Top

  • Have your toes on the mat

From Bottom

  • Have your legs wrapping around your opponent’s leg. Figure four lock.


From Top

  • Try to create frames against them on their hips and chest so they can’t come up and so you can break open their legs

From Bottom

  • Collar and Sleeve Grip – One hand grabs the gi collar or the head the other hand grabs the gi sleeve or wrist.
  • Overhook Grip – One arm goes over one of their arms
  • Underhook Grip – One arm goes under your opponent’s armpit


From Top

  • You can play this a few different ways
    • Keep your distance away from your opponent. Don’t allow them to sit up.
    • Be Super tight and control the hips attempting to smash the hips and pass.

From Bottom

  • You want to play super tight or super long. Both work well, just try not to play in the middle. So you should be super tight where it is hard for your opponent to move with their posture broken or so long that they cannot grab your head.

Opponents Submission Setups

From Opponent on Top

  • Dropping back for a toehold, straight ankle lock or into a leg entanglement
  • They can grab your collar and do a choke called Amassa pao

Weight Analysis

From the Top

  • Your weight needs to be back on your butt for the most part with your toes on the mat.
  • Do not allow your opponent to pull you forward.
  • Try to be one mass straight – Similar to when you squat in lifting. Back straight and head up.

From Bottom

  • Your weight will be on the mat but you can manipulate it by getting off to the side and pinching your knee down on their back.

Ideal Body Type

  • Works for all body types but there are several variations based on size and strength.

Leverage Points

From Top

  • Sternum (Post on the Sternum)
  • Hips (Post on the Hips)
  • Wrists (Control the Wrist by trapping and posting on it)

From Bottom

  • Hips (Use your foot on their hip to create angles on your opponent)
  • Head (Pull down the head to bring their weight forward and eliminate the ability to pass)
Pro Grappler to Review
  • Caio Terra