6/21/2010 5:43pm, #1
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 HGYour 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 guardIf 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 kneesIf 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 backThis 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...
6/21/2010 5:54pm, #2
Far HG or 'Z' guard (continued)
Retaining Far HG/Z-guard can be incredibly frustrating if you're unsure of the warning signs of being passed.
Here are some big red flags:
- Top person collapses your top leg down on top of your bottom leg (knees touching)
- Your legs begin to straighten ( > 90 degrees)
- Top person isolates (pins or traps somehow) your bottom leg
- Top person stands (spider, X, etc... guard time)
Many of these issues begin with the top person getting a grip. Again, deal with the grips as they happen.
My favorite thing to do from HG top is to weave my hand behind the top leg and in front of the bottom leg. It traps the bottom leg and, after collapsing my weight on top of the top leg, makes for an easy pass. It can be prevented by addressing the initial grip.
If you miss the grip and they are coming around/passing, it is time to push on their head. Push their head AWAY from you (not towards your feet). You might have time to re-establish half guard, but more than likely you'll turn to knees and continue from there.
- Knees together is bad
- Legs straightening is bad
- Get on their head if they are coming around to keep them from driving into you
- Don't be afraid to bail out to knees
6/22/2010 12:51am, #3
- Join Date
- Aug 2006
- Judo, Sub wrestling
Question for when you get around to DHG:
what do you like to do with (keeping the assumptions about which leg you have trapped) your left arm? One of my favorite counters for lazy DHG players is some variant of that so deftly used by Rumina Sato here:
YouTube- Rumina Sato vs. Ulysses Gomez at Grapplers Quest Main Event Superfight at UFC Fan Expo
(note also how he sets up the main attack with a wristlock. Sato = awesome)
I never seem to get kimura'd myself when playing DHG, but I also can't seem to express to curious junior students how I do so when they ask how to avoid my counter.
Good stuff by the way, I'll try it (haha)
6/22/2010 4:46am, #4
- Join Date
- Dec 2009
- Bjj / Mexican Judo.
Any Ideas on how to clearly avoid that part?
I got into Deep HG and variants because I noticed that it keeps me safe from most of the guys (and girls).
Anyway, since I'm a n00b white belt a good old STFU might be deserved to be thrown my way.
Thanks for the post :toothy6:
6/22/2010 8:54am, #5
ouchboy, sounds like you're not deep enough, you should be facing the same way as your opponent, not flat on your back underneath them.
Jeff Glover's DVD is solid gold on this stuff.
6/22/2010 11:03am, #6
One other sign that things are about to go badly for you is if the top guy has your lapels out of your belt and threads one through your legs. You are about to get your legs collapsed as in the first bullet above.
That has become one of my two defacto passes to get around that top leg.
6/22/2010 11:40am, #7
If the left arm isn't doing anything and just sitting there, it is waiting to be attacked. I tend to wrap it around the leg so that the wrist is behind the top person; I'll even grab my lapel to lock it in. Kimura setups rely on the wrist being exposed and able to be pinned/trapped/grabbed. With no wrist visible, the setup is much more difficult.
If the wrist does get trapped and the Kimura does get locked up, it is time to bail in an intelligent manner. To finish the Kimura, the person on top needs to take your wrist behind your back (unless your arm is SUPER compressed). It is of utmost importance to make sure that there is either no space behind you or that the angle is completely wrong for them to finish.
'Escape' 1 (wrong angle): Slip under them and go out the back, focusing on straightening your arm. Stay on your left shoulder edge (the one being attacked). If they roll, do NOT come up with them. The momentum will break the arm free and you're done. If they don't roll, it is time work on releasing the wrist grip using your other hand for extra leverage (push it down to your feet).
'Escape' 2 (no space): Flatten out and stay that way. You will give up side-control in the process. Once the wrist grip is broken, start working back to a dominant position.
The word 'Escape' is in quotes because, if they get that Kimura locked, it is VERY difficult to get out of. The 'escapes' are merely ways to buy time and get them to move in hopes of them screwing up and giving you something to work with. In terms of percentages, these escapes are mid to low percent because the submission is already locked. The better option is of course to avoid the lock by hiding the wrist early. :-)
6/22/2010 11:44am, #8
The angle should be wrong for the choke though. Do you know what choke they are using?
6/22/2010 11:47am, #9
If they get the Kimura grip locked, giving up position to avoid the submission as a last resort is expected.
6/22/2010 11:49am, #10