half guard

Top Half Guard Position

The half guard position

Getting your opponent on his back and getting on top of him is a great position to be in, in general, during a fight. Of course there are a variety of ways this can happen and not every position is as sought after as the other. Being on top and caught in half guard is usually on the less sought after side of the spectrum when it comes to grappling. This is probably because from bottom half guard you have a good amount of control even from your back and there is a lack of familiarity from the submissions from top half guard as well.

A lack of familiarity only means that a lot of people have room for improvement from this position. Or they need to find a way to get into a position that they are more comfortable in. There are a variety of passes and submissions possible to achieve that form this position.

Top Half Guard Passes

Passing somebody’s half guard is not usually the easiest thing to do. This is because if they have had any type of training they will have your leg locked down tight with their legs. Also though when in bottom half guard the last thing you want to do is slip up and give up a full mount to the opponent because its all downhill from there. However of course there are a variety of passes that you can perform of course and all involve a good amount of technical skill. Here is a website with a variety of these passes.

Striking from Top Half Guard

Top half guard offers a variety of ways to land strikes on the opponent as well. If they break your posture like they should shoulder punches and quick elbows can be used to soften up the opponent for your next move. Also if you posture up and control your position straight shots to the head, body shots, and hooking strikes can all be thrown at the opponent. Striking from this position can be very effective because your orientation to the opponent offers pretty much the same striking options as a full mount. However the opponent is not as defenseless as in full mount so one should also be cautious of a good grappler.

Submissions from Top Half Guard

There are also a good amount of possible submissions that can be performed from top half guard, some being more technical than others. One submission is the arm triangle choke. The concept is similar to that of a regular triangle choke except using the arms instead of the legs and from top half guard it is an easily accessible choke. Another simple submission is the kimura. This joint lock is easily accessible from top half guard  as well because of the leverage and position you have over an the opponent on bottom.

A couple of more technical submissions include the darce choke and a personal favorite from any position the guillotine choke. Both of these chokes are powerful blood chokes that require a slightly more setup than the others mentioned but are very similar in execution. Instead of trying to explain the complexity of these chokes here a couple videos to illustrate them



The Ground and Pound in Mixed Martial Arts

In Mixed Martial Arts competitions one form of attack that has come into prevalence is the ground and pound striking. This was popularized by notable UFC fighters like Mark Coleman, GSP, Randy Couture, and Quinton Jackson. This technique is generally used by more powerful wrestler types who can easily take an opponent to the ground then go on an offensive. The ground and pound also has serious potential for knockouts in the hands of an expert.

Getting into the Right Position

The ideal position for ground and pound is full mount and from that position it should be pretty straight forward. However such a dominant position cannot always be obtained. For a solid ground and pound full guard, half guard, or standing over an opponent are the optimal positions to be in. From any other position on the ground, besides a well times punch in a sprawl position, any strikes thrown even from a monster are more distracting and annoying than anything.

From a standing position over your opponent you can land powerful downward strikes and still hae the power from your legs to assist the punch. However when caught in a full guard or half guard position all your power has to come from your arms and torso. This means that these strikes arent necessarily as powerful as using standing strikes but they have been seen to be just as deadly when used properly.

From Half Guard

When caught in a half guard position the ground and pound can be very useful. In strict grappling half guard top is not necessarily a dominant position but with striking allowed it gives half guard top position a distinctive advantage. From this position you are within direct striking distance of the opponent’s head and face. By using the right technique one can isolate an opponents arms and leave them defenseless against strong close ranged strikes.

From Full Guard

striking from the full guard top position in a mixed martial arts match

When in the full guard and trying to use the ground and pound one puts himself in a very dominant position if he uses the correct technique. Strong straight shot punches and hooks can be thrown from this position. These strikes use all arm and core strength though instead of having the power come from the whole body’s rotation including the legs and hips. This means when trying to strike powerfully your arms and body will tire quicker so striking effectively is also important.

Also when in this position and striking your arms are left away from your body. So when striking against a good grappler who is quick and aggressive the use of submissions should be watches out for. Although The ground and pound can cause massive damage from this position but is not an invincible strategy


In defense to this ground and pound strategy an opponent will generally try and do two things. He will try and sweep you and get you into a less dominant position. This is because a solid ground and pound can only be worked from a couple of positions on the ground. Secondly he will try and break your posture because you can strike very well if you are pressed against his body. This means that in addition to power you need balance and precision in your ground and pound game.

The Half Guard in MMA

In MMA or BJJ the half guard position is a common position to end up in when grappling with the opponent. Although you are on the bottom in the generally worse position to be in, the half guard can be very useful in turning the tides in your favor. The half guard gives a level of control to you even though your on the bottom. This can be used to go on the offensive once you secure a half guard position from the bottom.

The half guard position is when you are on your back and your opponent is on top of you, with your legs you use the lockdown to secure one of the opponent’s legs. Then the opponent’s body is controlled by breaking their posturing and pulling them in with your arms. For some basic half guard positioning and techniques visit here

The Lockdown

The lockdown from the half guard position

The lockdown is a huge part of the half guard. This leg lock gives you a huge amount of control over the position of your opponent as he tries to attack from the top. The lockdown involves selecting a leg to attack, then taking that leg and positioning it in between your legs. Then take the outside leg and place it over the opponents leg; then take your inside leg and place it over your outside leg and then under the opponent’s. Then extend the legs and secure your lockdown.

This is a crucial part in the half guard because of the control it gives you over the opponent. It sounds complicated but it is simple and with strong legs and good technique can do wonders to give you control from the bottom position. Along with the added control and security it gives it is also the foundation for many of the sweeps from half guard. 

Half Guard Sweeps

There are various half guard sweeps that can be performed. The diversity of the sweeps have to do with the difference preferences or strengths of the user along with the position and tactics of the opponent. This video shows many different sweeps from the half guard position. a common factor between almost all of them is the control of the leg, mostly with the lockdown. For the sweeps the main idea is to raise your opponent’s center of gravity and then use his lack of balance and control to pass his mount.

Submissions from Half Guard

There are also a few submissions that can be performed straight from the half guard position. This is not seen as often because a lot of submissions come after a sweep from half guard or just the sweep is performed instead. However there are moves that can be done such as the Kimura armlock. This can be a very effective submission because of its power and possible surprise coming from bottom half guard. There is also the possibility to perform a guillotine choke out of the half guard as shown here.