Schooling You On the Half GuardPosted on July 9, 2010, 05:43 PM by Joey Santosus
Mixed martial arts and all of its intricacies can be a beautiful thing to watch. However, just like all art, some times it becomes difficult to interpret. Last time I shared my knowledge on the guard, the foundation of BJJ. This time we will advance to half guard. While my words won't prepare you to hit the mats with the likes of Demian Maia, understanding the fundamentals will make you a more well-informed fan.
For starters, one must understand what the half guard is. The half guard is slightly more detailed than the guard. Whereas the guard is simply when one man is on his back while his opponent is between his legs (the man on top is in his opponent's guard), the half guard is where one man is on his back while his opponent is lying on him with one leg remaining entangled in the bottom man's guard. The half guard is the necessary transition between the guard and gaining side control. If you are the fighter on top, you are just one step away from passing your opponent's guard. However, for the man on the bottom, this is the last chance to prevent his opponent from successfully passing his guard.
Advancing to half guard has its advantages. Aside from the fact that you are one step closer to side control, being on top means you are in a position of dominance, which in effect, can score points with judges. You will also have fight ending options at your disposal, such as chokes and shoulder locks. Of course, if no submission opportunities are presented, you can use strikes, namely elbows and punches, to end the bout as well.
While being in your opponent's half guard is considered an advantageous position, there are always risks involved in the octagon. Your opponent will have reversal options, so watch for him to try to take your back. Also, your opponent will be looking to execute submissions, a danger that increases when you are striking, so do so with caution.
If you find yourself in the half guard's bottom expect to feel a great deal of pressure. You are not only in a position to lose points on the scorecards, but one that may also have fight ending consequences. With that said, its not over yet. Remain relaxed, but guarded. Look to take advantage of any openings for reversal, as well as any submission opportunities, such as the kimura for example.
While years of training and dedication are typically necessary for one to master the ins and outs of BJJ, successfully advancing from guard to half guard is a great start. While you may not have in-cage aspirations, you are now that much more informed on what you are watching!