Class 03/10/2011- Half Guard Bottom

This week’s class was half guard bottom. I really wanted to find some fundamentals to teach this week. I did NOT want to have to rely on teaching high percentage techniques. I wanted to give students something from the position that would make them functional right away. The easiest way to look at the position was to look at the objectives of the top guy and reverse engineer them. As I see it this is the objective list for the top guy in approximate order it needs to be addressed in a roll:

  1. Control the bottom leg. This can happen 3 ways-
    1. Use your weight
    2. Use your foot
    3. Use your hand
  2. Prevent the top guy from putting his knee across your hip.
  3. Prevent the bottom guy from getting the underhook.
  4. Flatten him out.
  5. Pass.

With this in mind I decided to break up the position and drill and teach the following things:

  1. Foot positions- What do you do with your feet in half guard bottom?
  2. Cross face, underhook, and arm control fight on near side.
  3. Underhook fight on far side.
  4. The 2 pressures.

This was what I thought would make a very nice beginning level curriculum and accomplished my goal of not having to introduce any techniques. It’s all posture and pressure. Let’s get on with the videos:

Leg Positions

The next couple of videos detail some leg/foot positions that are usable for half guard bottom.

Students practiced the leg positions in intro stage for a bit I then brought the group back together to add some detail. I’ve learned to not show too much at once. If you do that you’ll lose some people. Here I show a couple of more ways of using the feet/legs.

Next is drill time. The drill is very simple. Top guy gives a bit of pressure. Some simple pulling and pushing and grabbing with movement. No guard passing. The bottom guy is simply cycling through some leg positions and testing pressures from there to see what happens. This is a good way to isolate a very specific part of the overall performance and let students test it against some active resistance.


Next we began to look at body range. I think this is often overlooked in half guard bottom. I detail a close range and an extended range posture and introduce a call out drill.

After the drill I brought people back in to give more detail of the two postures. I like doing this sometimes after students have had a chance to experience the postures. This creates more of a need for the information and they tend to pay more attention.

Drill Time

Here I can see if students are picking up any of the info.

Near Side Fights

Next we looked at the fights that happen on the near side. Here the top guy is primarily concerned with doing 3 things.

  1. Crossface (overhook)
  2. Underhook
  3. Control the arm

Video details this fight and how to prevent.

Finally, Add Pressure

Next I went over 2 simple pressures that you can use from the posture. They are simply an upa into the top guy and a ball and roll away. Most all the sweeps that people do from half guard bottom involve these two pressures. Here’s the video:

Bonus Mateiral

The first video details what to do if you get crossfaced and flattened.

Second video deals with getting underhooked on the far arm. This is a very bad situation and should be avoided at all costs.


  1. This format for the lessons is brilliant! I wish you to endure in posting the series. Thank you very much for doing it.

  2. Worked this progression all week with great results from the new peeps…and some lightbulbs going on with the more experienced.
    You sir are smarter than your average pajama’d primate…and for that I thank you!

  3. Pingback: Half Guard Bottom “A” Game | The Gentle Art

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