Author: Jason Scully
These are some important aspects to focus on and remember when it comes to being on the bottom in half guard
- Don’t just hold on. Gone are the days when someone moves into your half guard and then you try to hold onto them for dear life. The half guard game is a more active, offensive, and aggressive position then it once was. So if someone ends up in your half guard because they were working a pass, you should know that you have plenty of offensive options from this position and you should work just as hard from the half guard as you would if you were in any other guard.
- When you’re in the half guard on the bottom, you never want to be flat on your back. The main reason for this is because when you’re flat on your back you greatly decrease your mobility. You should be facing your opponent on your side in a position that looks similar to a fetal position. If you were to let your opponent get your back flat on the mat then he will have a much better chance of stopping your movement on the bottom and you will also feel much more of his weight on top of you.
- It’s extremely important to make sure you stop your opponent from crossing facing around your head and gaining head control. The reason for this, is because when your opponent gets control of your head and starts to place shoulder pressure on your face this does a very good job of getting your shoulders and back flat on the mat, which in turn decreases your mobility on the bottom.
- Use the paw grip to stop your opponent from gaining head control on you. Your opponent is mainly going to try to gain head control on you most of the time by starting first to hook around your head with his arm that is further away from your body so you need to at least take the hand of your bottom arm and control his arm that is attacking your head. A very effective way to do this is by having all of your fingers close together forming something similar to a paw and controlling at your opponent’s bicep. Many times stopping your opponent from getting head control is so important that you may have to use a double paw grip to prevent your opponent from getting head control. This is where you will use both of your hands on his arm that he’s using to establish control.
- Ideally you want to tuck your head deep under your opponent. This makes it much harder for him to gain head control on you. It also gives you a better opportunity to get deeper under your opponent so you can start working more offensive movements.
- Getting an underhook with your top arm is a good position because it assist with helping you stay on your side, but you also need to be aware of certain attacks your opponent can do to you. As the development of the half guard started to get more offensive the underhook was said to be extremely important in establishing an offense from this position. While this is still the case, there have been developments to counter the underhook positions. The use of movements such as brabo chokes and wizzers have been added to effectively work against your underhook position from half guard so you need to be aware that these counters exist.
- Be ready for your opponent to turn his hip down and work passes facing towards your legs similar to a reverse scarf hold position but while in half guard. This position in my personal opinion and experience is one of the hardest positions to deal with when you are on the bottom in half guard. The main reason this position poses such a problem is because when your opponent establishes this reverse top half guard position they gain a lot of control of your hips making it much harder for you to be as mobile as you’d like to be. I focus on making sure my opponent doesn’t get this position just as much as I focus on them not establishing head control. One way that I use to stop my opponent from establishing this position is I post directly on the side of the hip they are trying to turn down. As soon as I see them turn their hips I place one (and many times two) of my hands right on their hip bone and I stiff arm their hip. This makes it much harder for them to turn their hip down and also many times creates some space. Doing this requires a great deal of timing and practice so it’s a good idea to start working on it now, because once your opponent settles in that position it can be very hard to deal with.
- Another thing to focus on is preventing your opponent from crossing their ankles while in your half guard. The simple act of them crossing their ankles makes certain movements much more difficult and it also makes them feel much heavier. Usually when I establish a half guard one of the first things I do is I take my outside foot and I hook it over my opponent’s leg that I have trapped. I then drag his leg closer to me with my leg which brings his leg further away from his other one. When you do this it makes it much harder for your opponent to cross his ankles early on.