Half Guard Bottom Frames and Posture Concepts- There is no guard

I finally had a chance to shoot something related to my “There is no guard” post. You’ll want to have that background before you read this post so if you haven’t read it yet go over there and give it a read. I’m continuing to work to find some universal concepts from bottom that can be applied regardless of position.

For this post we’ll look at half guard and a couple of universal principles. I picked these principles because they work from multiple bottom positions and aren’t really dependent on being in half guard. The principles are:

Posture Hierarchy

Worst- Flat on back

In half guard bottom being flat on your back is the worst posture. You have little ability to either use your hips or create space.Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 11.00.14 AM


Better- Up on side

If you manage to get up on your side, even a little bit, you have much more ability to create space and move your hips.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 11.01.03 AM

Even Better- Up on elbow

If you get up on your elbow you have much more energy in your hips. You also have much better ability to create effective frames and control space.

Not a perfect example of posture so you'll have to imagine my posture is better. :)

Not a perfect example of posture so you’ll have to imagine my posture is better. 🙂

Best- Up on hand

If you get all the way up on one hand your hips have the most ability to travel. You have way more leverage for moving them, and your frames will really work well. You’ll be able to sweep, submit, or move out from under with ease.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 11.01.27 AMFrames

I’m speaking of arm frames here. I developed most of what I know and show from Karl Tanswell out of SBG UK. He’s a fantastic coach and is one of the most creative BJJ guys I’ve ever met. He introduced me to “frameology” a few years back and I’ve been developing it ever since.

In BJJ there are only 2 arm frames– Long frames and short frames. The rule is that long frames are better than short frames and short frames are better than no frames. This means that if I don’t have frames from the bottom I should be getting some. If I have short frames from the bottom I should be looking to replace them with long ones if possible.

Long frames are done with a stiff arm. Never bend the elbow as it compromises the frame.

Long frames are done with a stiff arm. Never bend the elbow as it compromises the frame.

Short frames use the elbow. In this case elbow un and wrist down with the hand tucked into the armpit.

Short frames use the elbow. In this case elbow un and wrist down with the hand tucked into the armpit.

If on the bottom you prioritize frames this way you will always have enough space to work and you won’t be crowded by the top guy. I know a lot of people like an underhook from half guard bottom but it doesn’t allow you to control space. The underhook ties you to the top guy in a way that opening up the space again becomes impossible. The frame keeps all your options open.

Video of Concepts

Here’s a video explaining the concepts. It goes on for almost 10 minutes so I apologize for the length. I don’t usually have much time for editing so I didn’t cut this one at all. I never have enough time to plan videos so they are almost always done in one shot. I think there is enough here though that you can work with the idea of the two concepts to see if it will improve your half guard bottom game in particular and all of your other bottom games in general.


  1. This is really great stuff. I have been thinking about this video a lot. I really like your whole approach to bjj. Anyway, I was watching https://youtu.be/_3braRnOwFo anyway your approach really helped me see some details that Saulo is doing. In particular check out this video starting at the 5:15 mark. I think it is an interesting example of the use of posture (and maybe a short frame). Anyway, your site is one of my favorites, and it is nice to see you putting time into it again–keep it coming!

    • Thanks much! I appreciate you sharing the Saulo video. I haven’t seen that one and I like how he describes posture quite a bit.

  2. Amazing. I’ve been playing half guard defensively for a while now. I never surfed my elbow or played long/short frame. Always went straight for tucked in elbow. It worked as a white belt and some blue belt. But now my hg always gets passed. A duh!! Just a bad habit from my over defensive style of bjj. Thanks for the framing reminder. This combined with xandes knee connection hg (see world’s seminar YouTube) will amp up my game. I’m starting to see how surfing is not just a top game thing. Elbow/knees from bottom are crucial for connecting and it’s everywhere!!

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