Welcome to our article on the half guard. In this article, we will take a brief look at the history of the half guard and how its use has evolved in modern BJJ and submission grappling.
While the exact history of the half guard cannot be pinpointed, in the Kodokan Institute, it was known as niju garami and was used as a holding position to prevent being pinned (i.e. a stalling position until a stand up) or to try to regain the full guard. Hence, due to the ruleset, there was not much technical advancement in this position until the early 90s, thanks to Roberto ‘Gordo’ Correa.
As the story goes, Gordo then a purple belt in 1989, had a serious injury to his knee, which necessitated the use of the half guard to prevent the pass. From there, he developed the use of the underhook, now a half guard staple. Gordo’s trademark move was attacking the back from the underhook although he also developed early variations of other positions such as the deep half.
Since Gordo’s success, the use of the position has exploded, with many schools and athletes each favoring their own particular style. In the list below, we will take a quick look at the various types of half guard, and the known athletes utilizing each style.
The above is a non-exhaustive list of the various half guard positions and the athletes who use them. Readers will note that the popular Reverse De La Riva guard was not included; there is some debate on whether or not that could be recognized within this category since the Reverse De La Riva guard itself could be the subject of its own article.
On a final point, the increased popularity of sub-only tournaments, in which the heel hook reigns king, has also seen the development of many techniques which begin from the half guard and progress into leg entanglements.
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