Exploring the Secrets of the Deep Half Guard

Last updated on 11.02.2023 by

Point me to anyone training BJJ, and I’ll point you out a person who has a half guard variation up their Gi sleeve. The half guard ranges from simple to very complicated, meaning everyone from a complete beginner to a seasoned expert can find a variation that fits them. But is there a half guard ht is fit for everyone, white to black belt, young to old, recreational to competitor grappler? My answer to that question is the deep half guard. 

Basics of the BJJ Deep Half Guard Position

Why should you use the deep half guard in Jiu Jitsu? There are plenty of arguments for it, but let’s look at a few that apply across the board to everyone. 

First, the deep half guard is a very close-distance guard that places you directly underneath an opponent’s center of gravity. That means that as long as you understand grips and motion, sweeping is pretty much guaranteed. Moreover, it is easy to get to because it is available from various guard positions. Finally, there are direct submission options, and smooth back takes are readily available, especially when you’re playing it using Gi grips. 

The best part about the deep half guard is that you’re spending next to no energy while holding the position, and it is one of those guards that are very difficult to get past because every time the top person attempts to move, they compromise their balance

What does the deep half guard look like? In the position, you’re lying on your back, your shoulders directly underneath the middle of your opponent’s hips. You control one of their legs, which is extended. By wrapping your own legs around it, most often in a hook configuration or a triangle, and you use your arms to establish grips at the hip level of the same leg. 

The other leg of your opponent is bent, and your head rests on the thigh. In certain situations, you can also use one of your arms to control the hip on that side.

Detailed Breakdown of the Deep Half Guard

The deep half guard might be a position o relative safety that doesn’t require special athletic abilities, but the same rules of thumb for playing any guard apply to it. Once you’re set up in the deep half guard, your first order of business is to ensure you can stay in the guard and control the top person. 

You can only think about sweeps, submissions, and transitions, which usually lead to the back when you have control. In terms of entering the deep half, that is the last piece of the puzzle you should aim to learn. Why? Well, unless you know how you should set up to control someone first, learning an entry doesn’t make too much sense, does it? 

Controlling the BJJ Deep Half Guard

The effectiveness of the deep half guard revolves around two main things. First, you have your entire body controlling one leg directly, giving you an ample amount of indirect control over the hips. Secondly, you are positioned below the opponent’s center of gravity, which makes it difficult for them to move without compromising balance. 

To stay in a deep half guard, you will need to understand how to place your grips and how to use your legs to control the opponent’s leg. Before all of that, you have to be aware of a very important detail – never keep both your shoulder blades on the ground when you’re playing the deep half. One of your shoulders should always be away from the mats. 

The general foal of the grips from the deep half is to keep you attached to the opponent’s hips. In a No-Gi setting, it involves gripping the hip from the backside and just above the knee from the front, ensuring you’re tucking your elbows neatly to your body as you do. With the Gi, gripping the lapels and belt can open up a whole new host of opportunities. 

Your legs can control their leg by placing one leg in a hook configuration while keeping the other on top of their leg to make sure they don’t slip out. A triangle configuration will certainly with controlling the opponent, but you’ll have to open it up when the time comes to attack.

Deep Half Guard Sweep Attacks

There are plenty of sweeps from the deep half guard, but since we’re looking at it as a guard anyone can use, I’ll cover the two most effective ones. 

The simplest high percentage dep half guard sweep is the rolling sweep. It works by forcing your opponent to place their butt on the ground as you rotate to get on top of the leg you have under your control. In reality, very few people will allow you to do it without resistance, so you’ll set it up using a little trick. Namely, you want to pull the knee of the leg you control towards the ground in front of you, using your grips. An immediate and predictable reaction is for the opponent to rotate their leg back, which gives you the momentum to rotate with it, ending up on all fours, and forcing your opponent to sit down for a smooth and easy sweep. 

Another very reliable deep half guard sweep is the waiter sweep. Executing it will require you to bend the leg you’re controlling directly so that you have access to their ankle. You want to have your legs crossed for this setup because the goal is to swing your knees toward your shoulders so that you gain access to the ankle. 

Once you have the grip, your legs will lock a triangle high at thigh level. You should be underhooking the ankle with the bottom arm, aiming to bring it to shoulder level. A sleeve grip when wearing the Gi further stabilizes this position. 

Finishing the sweep requires you to swing forward to a chair-sit motion, releasing the ankle grip as you end up on top. 

Back Takes

Taking the back is also a readily available option from the deep half guard. This is where using hooks on the leg you’re controlling comes into play. From the deep half guard position, you want to use one arm to grip the middle of the pants’ waist. The other arm grips the pants at knee level, while you place the foot of your top leg behind the opponent’s ankle. 

Using the grips and hook, push your opponent so that they post with their arms on the mat, pulling yourself to establish two hooks behind their knees. From there, extending your legs and pulling their waist back will get you into a smooth back take. 

Submissions from Deep Half Guard

There are no high percentage submissions you can set up directly from the deep half, but you can use the threats of sweeps to get into leg lock attacks. The waiter sweep, for example, leads into a sneaky kneebar as long as you switch your hips when you end up on top, trapping the bottom leg. 

A better option is to switch to outside Ashi Garami after the opponent’s butt touches the ground from a waiter sweep, going into all kinds of high-percentage finishes.

Deep Half Guard Entries

Getting to the deep half guard is actually not difficult once you understand the control points you’re looking for. You can get into the deep half from most half guard variations, as well as all the guards that place you underneath an opponent’s center of gravity, like the X-guard and the single-leg X. 

Getting a deep grip underneath the near side leg and moving your opponent on top of you as you swing under are the key points to remember. 

Passing the BJJ Deep Half Guard

Getting past the deep half guard is tricky at best, but it is not impossible to do. The main principle behind successful passing is to move the weight of your hips off the bottom person’s shoulders and onto their hips. 

This will require you to get the knee of the leg which is under their control to the mats so that you can rotate and sit on their hips, while you extend the other leg. This maneuver will put your balance to the test, but once you’re sitting on their hips, passing can be as easy as swinging the free leg over their head and cut-passing with the trapped leg.

In Conclusion

The deep half guard is not just a position for Masters division grapplers to play because they have next to no physical attributes. It is a useful position control for everyone regardless of experience, age, or sex that is effective in both Gi and No-Gi Jiu Jitsu. Once you figure out the fine points of control, attacking with the trilemma of sweeping, submitting, or taking the back will ensure you dominate your opponent.