Half guard and deep half guard are two very important positions in Jiu-Jitsu. Many BJJ practitioners around the world are using their knee shield half guard, frame and underhook game to shield off their opponent’s pressure, sweep them, reverse them and attack or even setting up a Tom DeBlass style attack from bottom half guard.
Ryan Young of Kama Jiu-Jitsu comes from a traditional BJJ academy that is focused primarily on self defense. Young has many interesting videos on his youtube channel. in his most recent video, Young explains why he doesn’t teach half guard to white belts. He wants them to focuse more on full guard or closed guard which he feels is much safer than half guard. Young believes that half guard and especially deep half guard will get you smashed when facing an opponent who is striking you in the streets or in MMA. He goes into great detail in this video.
In the video, they demonstrate a half guard without the knee shield, and a bad version of a deep half guard.
Normally a good knee shield half guard keeps you protected from strikes and a in proper deep half guard, your body is under your opponent’s not to the side…
Interestingly, according to a survey from Professor X of MMAfightdb.com, who collected data of 90 sweeps recorded in 1438 fights back in 2015, they found that 50% of sweeps in MMA came from half guard.
Most sweeps came from half guard (43) with the butterfly guard (19) and closed guard (11) some way behind in second and third place, respectively. So half guard is the most effective position to sweep in MMA match.
The report also found that the best sweeper in MMA was a BJJ fighter: Rani Yahya. The ADCC champion and BJJ black belt had 4 sweeps (all from half guard), in his four fights in the UFC.
There have been many other people in bjj that use the half guard as one of their best weapons, we have also seen household names such as Demian Maia, and other UFC fighters use the half guard effectively in competition.
Here you can see how Demian Maia bases all of his guard game around the half guard instead of the closed guard in MMA. He shouts his underhook and use it to sweep or stand back up. Similar to the game of Lucas Leite or Bernardo Faria:
The deep half guard is rarely used and deemed risky in MMA as you are exposed to strikes but Ryan Hall is a master in the position as he has used at the highest level in the UFC.
Check out this deep half guard sweep from Minotauro on Tim Sylvia in the UFC. Minotauro won the UFC belt after this match:
Ryan Young does have a point about getting hit by playing half guard BUT that’s only if you don’t have a good half guard game or are making all the big mistakes…
So you want to play a simple and effective half guard? Well, get your hands on arguably the best half guard player ever, Bernardo Faria’s DVD set, “Battle Tested Half Guard.” Bernardo is infamous for his simple, effective, and tenacious half guard. He has a game that is suitable for anybody at any age, weight, gender, or fitness level!