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Deep Half Guard Tutorial: Entries and Sweeps (Sport BJJ)

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

The author using deep half guard in competition.

The author using deep half guard in competition.

What Is "Deep Half Guard"?

Deep half guard is a somewhat advanced position in sport BJJ that can be used to neutralize a much bigger opponent by keeping their weight off of you. One great thing about the position is that you can enter into it from a completely defensive position (like when the opponent has your back, for instance). Effectively, deep half can allow you to quickly turn the tables on your opponent, going from a very bad to a very good position. Sweeps are extremely high percentage from deep half guard, and you can even set up submissions. We'll take a look at some very high percentage entries and basic to intermediate sweeps here.


The entry can be 90% of the battle with deep half guard in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. If you get there, you're very likely to sweep, take the back, or submit your opponent, but getting there can be a bit of a challenge. Instead of relying on strength, we're going to count on a particular action from our partner here. In the first entry, we're going in from "combat base" position, one of the most common occurrences in both gi and no-gi BJJ. In the second, we're being extremely opportunistic and going from the back mount with hooks, one of the worst positions in all of jiu-jitsu (if not the worst), and we're quickly turning the tables on our opponent, preparing to hit a sweep right away.

Hook Sweep

The "hook sweep" from deep half guard is one of the earliest places where I personally had success with deep half guard about a decade ago. I had the opportunity to learn some deep half guard stuff very early on with Jeff Glover when he came to teach a seminar in Richmond, VA, back when he was a purple belt, and I've tried to carry this knowledge on at Revolution BJJ when I teach today (along with my own inevitable synthesis of the techniques).

The hook sweep is likely to be the sweep you use first, too. It's really intuitive once your feet and hands are in the right position. You can also try rocking your opponent forward to get their weight to shift backward. As soon as this happens, the hook sweep is easy pickin's!

Students trying to work deep half (background) at Revolution BJJ.

Students trying to work deep half (background) at Revolution BJJ.

The Waiter Sweep

This position was first introduced to me by Rodrigo Medeiros, who is the co-founder of our team, BJJ Revolution, while at my friend and instructor Eric Burdo's gym. Rodrigo called this position "little chair", largely because (I think) the position is like having your partner sit in a rocking chair (isn't translation funny?). Nowadays it's almost always referred to as the "waiter sweep", but I was glad to have gotten to know the sweep a bit before it became extremely popular. Nowadays I use this sweep, or some more advanced variation of it, just about every time I roll, and tons of my students use it as well.

If your partner puts his or her foot on the ground, it's waiter sweep time. It's going to be really hard for them to stop this particular move, especially if you're properly hiding your arm and setting up the deep half correctly in the first place. You can see plenty of examples of this sweep in competition at all levels, from white to black belt, gi, and no-gi.

Wrapping It Up

I've had the opportunity to learn from a lot of great deep half guard players, including Jeff Glover back in 2004 or 2005, Rick Macauley at my gym in 2006, Jake Mackenzie and Ryan Hall in 2010 or so, Wilson Reis on more than one occasion, and my friend Seph Smith, all of whom are reasonably well known for their excellent deep half games. I now consider deep half to be a huge part of my own personal BJJ game, and I use it virtually every time I roll unless I'm specifically making a conscious effort not to use it.

If you'd like to see some Kimura attacks and finishes, check out this Revolution BJJ tutorial I made. There's also one on fancy leglocks and more orthodox leg attacks. As always, I welcome feedback, and I'd love to hear from you if you've been able to hit any of these moves in competition or in rolling at your gym! Happy training!

© 2014 Andrew Smith