Whether it be after a takedown or by guard pass, sometimes you’ll end up in what’s called the half guard.

It’s when you’re only able to capture one of your opponent’s legs. Control over one leg is better than control over, well, NO legs.

There are a couple different ways to maintain the position and prevent him from passing both legs, but I think below is the most common.

Half Guard

Half Guard Principles

The principles and options change a little when you just have half guard as opposed to a full guard(open or closed).

Could you strike? Yes, but not effectively. Could you pull off a submission? Sure, there are a few, but not what you would call ”high percentage” subs.

The three best options are:
1. Get to Your Knees
2. Re-Guard
3. Sweep

With a few exceptions, all three require the same principles to complete.

Get Double Underhooks

Before your opponent settles in you have the opportunity to shrimp out and re-guard. But if he’s able to drop his weight into you and get that chest to chest pressure, then you’ll have to work for double underhooks before you do anything else.

A lot of times you’ll see guys holding on—trying to keep their opponent’s weight down so they can’t posture up just like in open or closed guard.

By doing that you’re just trapping yourself.

In half guard you have to create space between his upper body and yours so you can take back control of the situation with those double underhooks.

Get on Your Side

You can’t be flat on your back. You’ll use those double underhooks in concert with your legs to unbalance his base and turn(facing him) on your side curling all the way up underneath his hips—placing the top underhook over his back.


From There…

You can whip up on to your knees to try to take his back, use the leverage you’ve created under his hips to execute a sweep, or transition right into an open guard if he gives you enough space.

On Top of the Half Guard? Do the Lesnar

So if the bottom player’s job is to get up on their side then the top player’s job is to keep you flat on your back.

In other words—pull a Lesnar.

The top half guard position in MMA is a great place to ground and pound.

You have a couple subs at your disposal, but I think the better options are to strike or utilize one of the several half guard passes.

Other Cool Half Guards and Half Guard to the MMA Beginner

I said earlier that there are a couple different ways to position your legs in the half guard—one such way you’ll want to learn is the lockdown(the staple of Eddie Bravo’s half guard system). Half butterfly and Marcelo Garcia’s X-Guard are two other’s you’ll want invest some time into as well.

With a little work you can turn half guard—from what is a position you’re trying to survive in as a beginner—into a more offensive position that threatens your opposition at every turn.