Uncle Skippy's Half Guard Bottom Thread
Disclaimer: Hell no I don't know everything about half guard. Due to physical limits, I find myself in half-guard a LOT after escaping from mount or side-control/cross-sides. This thread is a brain dump and discussion of what I've learned in the 3 years I've been really working on my HG (half-guard) game.
I'm a big guy (6'4", 220lbs). After 2 lower-back surgeries, I've made half-guard an integral part of my game due to the lack of direct pressure on my lumbar spine. As such, I've found certain things that work for me and some things that don't. You may find the same; feel free to contribute what works for you.
Note: Please refrain from posting 'Thanks' and 'I'll try that'-type posts. I'd like to try to keep this thread as clean as possible, with each post contributing some sort of knowledge.
For the sake of clarity, all explanations should assume that the person on bottom has their right leg (inner leg) between the legs of the person on top. Their left leg is the outer/free leg.
Uncle Skippy's Half-Guard Game
When I am in HG bottom, I stay in 1 of 2 positions:
- Deep HG
Your head is up against their left hip (no space) and your left shoulder is touching/hugging their right hip.- Far HG or 'Z' guard
There has to be ZERO space between your head and their hip. If you allow space, they will underhook your head with their arm, pry you away, and then flatten you out.
Your left leg knee is on their right peck/shoulder. Your left hand has an underhook of their right arm. Your right hand is either posting behind you or, if you are upright enough, working the head or their shoulders.Why these 2 positions? Because it makes it VERY difficult for the person on top to get at your head. If the person on top can underhook your head, they can flatten you out. If they flatten you out, they kill your hip mobility. If you can't move your hips, have fun trying to move at all. So, don't let them get at your head. Being flattened out in half guard bottom is awful.
You are on your side (on an edge). You are not flat on your back.
Far HG or 'Z' guard
I have a tendency to work from a Far HG / Z-guard. My long legs and arms help to maintain enough distance for me to move behind my frame. What frame you ask? In Far HG/Z-guard, your legs are your frame. Keep slight forward pressure into your opponent with your legs and move behind your frame. Don't push; just apply a little pressure. Remember to always move yourself and not your opponent.
If they move away from you, do not straighten your legs; you'll get passed. Instead, move your hips towards them to maintain the distance (or just bail and turn to knees).
One other thing to make a note of is grips. If the top person gets a good grip on your legs, you HAVE to deal with it. Their pass will start with leg control. Instead of letting them progress in their pass, pop their grip off and force them to start over. Removing grips is a priority. Don't just remove a grip once and then let them regrip; be persistent in removing grips.
With that in mind, Far HG/Z-guard will give you a quite a few options for transitions:
- Pull guard
If they posture up and take pressure off of your legs, you can pretty easily pull guard if they don't have a good grip on your bottom leg.- Turn to knees
If you can't do anything else, or you have a killer neutral position game, pulling your inner leg back behind you will put you back on knees. This is easier to do when the top person postures up and relieves pressure on your leg. Straight-arming your left arm into their right shoulder to shift them back a bit will disrupt their base and make it even easier.- Take the back
This is where I go 90% of the time. Using my left arm underhook to keep the top person where they are (don't push/pull them, just keep them where they are), I shoot my body around their body to their feet and place my left knee in their tailbone. When my head is past their right armpit, I use my left underhook to wrap their upper body and glue myself to them. My left knee is pressuring into their tailbone to keep their weight forward so that they hands stay on the ground to support their weight.Quick review so far:
At this point, I have 1 hook in (right leg). From here, I'll either throw the left leg around to take the other hook (remember their hands are supporting their weight and not guarding their hip to prevent the hook), or I'll circle around them and sweep them to side-control.
- Do not let the top person touch your head
- Being flattened out is horrible
- Deal with grips immediately
- Move yourself, not your opponent.
Cain Prevost's post about this:
I'm a big fan of Cain's. Here are his words on half-guard bottom:
More brain dump to come...