The Many Guards of Jiu Jitsu: Deep Half Guard

deep half guard

Among many of the highest level practitioners in BJJ, the deep half guard has become a staple.  Just look at the effectiveness this guard has had for Bernardo Faria, Jeff Glover and Ryan Hall (to name a few).  What makes the deep half guard so powerful?

For starters, entry into a deep half relies less on your opponent making a mistake and more on you doing things right.  Acquiring some of the other guards that I’ve profiled thus far requires a certain error by your opponent, be it allowing for a sleeve grip to be obtained for spider or allowing a hook to be placed for DLR or allowing ones hips to be too close for full/closed guard.  Deep half relies less on the error of an opponent.

One aspect that I find fascinating about jiu jitsu is the focus on appendage isolation.  Be it the neck, the arm or the leg, any effective movement boils down to the reality that if the other person has two or more limbs in play it is far more difficult to really affect them.  Deep half is essentially a method of isolation of a leg followed by transitions into sweeps and/or back takes.

The main problem with deep half is that up until you get good at it, you really really suck at it.  Closed guard is a pain to get out of and you can’t really submit someone from inside of their guard unless you are much stronger than they are.  Spider and De La Riva don’t really leave you very vulnerable.  When you enter deep half for a short period of time you are very vulnerable.  Remediating that vulnerability is relatively simple but not easy at all.

For starters, when you enter deep half one of your arms is at risk.  It is always important to remember that all the sweeps in the world will very likely not get you out of a locked in Kimura.   Also depending on how your opponent plays there may be some chokes and leg locks hidden in there for them too.  Deep half is a vulnerable place to be.  However, from what I’ve seen, it is one of the best places from which one can hit sweeps and back takes.

This goes back to the principle of welcoming the submission and just rolling.  Yeah you’re not going to master deep half very quickly, but when you do, it will be a truly deadly part of your arsenal.

Do you play deep half guard?  If yes how long did it take you to get good at it?  Did you find that up until you started getting proficient with it that it was a far riskier position than some of the other guards?  What does it take to really get good at playing deep half guard?


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