Nov 30

Transitions between Half Guard and Closed Guard


Half Guard Transition to Closed Guard


  • There are two different grip combinations that you can use for this transition. The one I showed is cross collar/far sleeve. The other one that you can use is far sleeve/far knee. I recommend the first grip simply because there are more options off of it.
  • For the transition, it’s essential that your bottom leg is mobile. In order to create that opportunity for yourself, you can use your top leg to elevate their hips like a forklift. That will allow you to bring the foot out easily.
  • Once the foot is out, go foot to the hip then shoot into closed guard.

Closed Guard Transition to Half Guard


  • The grip combination is cross collar/far sleeve.
  • The initial entry is just like the scissor sweep. You shrimp your hips out to one side and bring your knee across your opponent’s body. Then you can either go for the sweep or switch things up and go half.

Transitional Armbar


  • If you’re thinking about this, it’s really important to bring whichever arm that has the sleeve grip back until your elbow is near your side. Your arm will be more structurally strong in that position. It will also make it harder for your opponent to pull their arm back.
  • Also it’s nice to push the cross collar grip into their shoulder. It helps to keep the arm exposed and it compromises their position to some degree.
  • Now in the transition from half guard into closed guard, you’re just skipping closed guard altogether and rotating around for the armbar. That’s the easiest way to think of it. All the common guidelines about closed guard armbars apply.


Generally, the focus in these transitions is more on grip dominance than in timing. Your opponent can help you though by leaning forward, which will free your leg for you.


The first piece of this is the transition from half guard to closed guard. I picked that up from Jimmy Harbison at a seminar he did with JT to help fund the Team Lloyd Irvin Kids Program. It was a great seminar, and I remember everything he taught that day.

After that, I reverse engineered the technique to come up with the transition back to half guard. Also in the process of playing with both transitions, I started to see that armbar possibility.