Half Guard Bottom “A” Game

This week was half guard bottom week. I decided to take a different tact this week. I taught some new material. I had been thinking a bit about half guard bottom and how we teach it. I usually teach the stone squirrel game from here which is a fundamental bottom survival game. The problem with the game I normally teach is that it doesn’t stress the best possible posture. Instead it stresses how to survive when in bad posture.

Surviving bad posture is a necessary thing to teach but should not be the first thing you teach beginners! Why? If you teach beginners how to survive from bad posture then they’ll go right to the bad posture when they roll because that’s all they know! I’ve seen this quite a lot. Of course this is problematic. We don’t want students to build their game based on escaping from bad postures.

With this in mind I decided this week to teach half guard bottom from the best possible posture. My goal was to have students work and internalize this posture so that when they are in half guard bottom they are working always towards great posture instead of trying to escape from bad. What you’ll see below is a simple game (I like simple) that works extremely well from this good posture.


The posture is simple. We want an upright posture up on one hip. Playing flat on your back is OK if you have an awesome guard but I never want to build a game based on being good at Jiu Jitsu. The posture looks a lot like clinch game. We have a deep low underhook, head in the pocket and good front shoulder contact. We move constantly to the back. This will set up our attacks and keep the other guy from being able to grab our rear posting hand.

Here’s the basic posture we’ll be working. Upright with low underhook.

Head in the pocket. Good shoulder contact. Arm builds base. Keep moving to the back.


Pressure 1 is the shrimp. Shrimping means moving he hip away from our partner. Because I have the leg trapped this will effectively split her base wide and affect her balance.

Moving the hip away from the top guy. This causes them to do the “split” which breaks down their balance.

Taking top from here is as easy as driving forward hard. You can also grab the far knee or arm as you drive to make it work better.

The 2nd pressure from here is the upa. An upa is moving your hips towards your opponent. Because you have a good angle on the other guy’s hips from this posture a sharp upa into the hips will cause them to lose balance. Simply drive your hips hard and fast upwards and at an angle towards their hips. If the angles are right they’ll go right over.

Upa. Driving my hips forward and into hers. Notice her balance being affected here.

These two pressures work very well from this posture. Sometimes the top guy will open their base really wide and load up their weight on the trapped leg to minimize your ability to work these pressures. When they do this they are immediately open for the next pressure. The 3rd pressure I call the dive in pressure. What I look for is a big opening. Their base is extremely wide. Wide enough that I could dive into the hole between the legs.

This pressure is most effective if done right off one of the other pressures. It works best off of the shrimp pressure because this one tends to open up the base. When the hole opens up we’ll dive right under. Our hips will face the ceiling. Our head will go right to and contact the hip, and our base arm will dive as far as it can go between the legs. As soon as we hit this posture we’ll bridge over our outside shoulder and complete the reversal.

Rolling reversal. Head on hip and arm deep between the legs.

If the reversal gets stuffed you have time to come back out and build your posture again if you act quickly. They will either go right away or they won’t. No reason to ever hang out in the posture because it’s a momentum move. You only get the momentum once so if you don’t hit the reversal right away bail and go back to posture. You should be able to do this if you move right away.

That’s it! Simple but effective game to teach beginners. I’ve seen this really sharpen up new student’s half guard bottom game quite a lot in a short period of time. Once students feel good about this game you can introduce escaping from bad postures. They now have a good posture base from which to better understand what bad posture looks like.

Video of Concepts