Top 5 Best Half Guard Instructionals You’ll ever Watch

You need half guard to beat bigger opponents, to rest in a safe position, or as a pit stop that connects your other positions? Lucky you: there’s many great half guard instructionals available. In this review I give you the top 5 best half guard instructionals that I ever watched (I watched even more, but these are the top ones).

What’s half guard?

Half guard is any position where you have trapped one of your opponent’s legs. So it’s actually a very broad range of positions, including: knee shield half guard, z guard, underhook half guard, half butterfly, deep half guard half guard with crossface and underhook, half guard with body lock, and more.

1. Most complete: The half guard anthology

Full nameThe half guard Anthology
InstructorLachlan Giles
Total duration11 hours and 8 minutes
Publication year2018
Where to buyHere on BJJ Fanatics

What’s it about: It’s a huge instructional about all half guard positions:

  • Recovering from bad half guard positions (crossface underhook, switch base half guard, three quarter mount, knee cut)
  • Knee shield half guard
  • Underhook half guard
  • Reverse half guard
  • Reverse de la riva
  • Related positions (single x, shin to shin guard and others)
  • The false reap (watching this back I was very surprised that the false reap is covered on this 2018 dvd, because that position didn’t become very popular until 2022).

Why I like it: It’s the most structured half guard instructional. Lachlan names all the chapters very descriptively so you can easily find back the section where he answers your question.

Weaknesses: This instructional is from an earlier generation in terms of production quality standards. The sound quality is worse, camera angles change all the time, sometimes there’s suddenly an air conditioner in the background… Nothing major, but it’s noticeable.

My recommendation: Get this is you want a complete overview of all half guard positions. None of the other haf guard instructionals cover everything.

Lachlan GIles half guard instructional cover

Get all the half guard variations in 1 instructional

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2. Best for beginners: Make Z guard great again

TitleMake Z Guard Great Again
InstructorCraig Jones
Total duration5 hours and 11 minutes
Publication year2022
Where to buyHere on BJJ Fanatics

What it’s about: It’s about knee shield half guard, both when you have it low (z guard) and high. It’s about how to retain this guard against common passes, how to attack the upper body and how to enter leg locks.

Why I like it: Craig plays the knee shield better than anybody, so this instructional is very thorough. I learned a lot of new details (even though I played this positional forever already) and my favorite part is actually on how to pass the knee shield (which I always found hard).

Weaknesses: This is not a complete half guard instructional, it focuses on the knee shield. It touches on other variations but not very much.

My recommendation: Start with this instructional if you don’t have a big half guard game yet. The knee shield half guard is the best half guard to start with because it’s the easiest and it’s a full defensive and offensive system in its own right.

Make Z-guard great again by Craig Jones cover

Learn the guard that Craig Jones still uses to sweep and submit people at the highest level

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3. Best for attacks: Systematically Attacking from Half Guard by Gordon Ryan

Full nameSystematically Attacking From Half Guard
InstructorGordon Ryan
Total duration8 hours and 9 minutes
Publication year2021
Where to buyHere on BJJ Fanatics

What’s it about: It’s about attacking from half guard. It covers 3 half guards and how to combine them:

  • Half butterfly
  • Knee shield half guard
  • Deep half guard

Weaknesses: It doesn’t cover a flattened out half guard, where your opponent has chest on chest and is past your knee shield and half butterfly. This position isn’t covered here because you can’t attack from it anymore. It’s instead covered in Gordon’s guard retention dvd: They Shall not Pass.

Why I like it: It’s incredibly thorough. Gordon Ryan is amazing at these positions and shares many details that probably only he knows.

My recommendation: Get this if you want to attack from half guard and you want to lear a lot of details in each position.

gordon ryan half guard instructional cover

Attack from half guard with Gordon Ryan’s details

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4. New Wave Jiu Jitsu: No Gi Half Guard by John Danaher

Full nameNew Wave Jiu Jitsu: No Gi Half Guard 3 Directions Of Attack
InstructorJohn Danaher
Total duration11 hours and 3 minutes
Publication year2021
Where to buyHere on BJJ Fanatics

What’s it about: The techniques are almost exactly the same as Go Further Faster (see below), but in no gi instead of the gi. The production quality is better because BJJ Fanatics moved to the new studio by this time.

My recommendation: If you want Danaher’s no gi half guard dv, or if you don’t care about gi vs no gi, get this one over Go Further Faster.

john danaher no gi half guard instructional cover

Learn Danaher’s system for escaping and attacking from half guard

Danaher half guard


5. Best for gi: Go Further Faster: Half Guard by John Danaher

Full nameGo Further Faster: Half Guard
InstructorJohn Danaher
Total duration8 hours and 7 minutes
Publication year2019
Where to buyHere on BJJ Fanatics

What’s it about: Various styles of half guards, including positions where you’re already crushed flat on your back.

  • Kuzushi’s (off balancing mechanics) from half guard
  • The underhook sweep battle
  • The knee lever (John Wayne sweep)
  • Ude Gatame (arm crush)
  • Leg lock entries

Why I like it: John explains a lot of conceptual stuff, such as the half guard paradox (is half guard good or bad?), the 3 directions that you can move in from half guard, and things like that. And John also

Weaknesses: I think John spends a lot of time on relatively niche moves from half guard in this instructional. The knee level and the ude gatami are both good moves, but I don’t think we needed more than an hour of content on each. Instead I would have liked to see much more content on other variations of half guard positions (knee shield, half butterfly, deep half, and so forth).

My recommendation: Get this if you want a gi specific half guard instructional or if you like John’s teaching style.

john danaher gi specific half guard instructional cover

Learn the nuances of half guard in the gi

Gi Half Guard


Also read: Top 10 Best BJJ Instructionals Ranked

Direct comparisons between the half guard instructionals

You may be deciding between 2 specific half guard instructionals, so I’ll briefly repeat the main differences between them.

Lachlan GIles’ Half guard anthology vs Gordon Ryan’s attacking from half guard

Lachlan Giles’ half guard instructional covers more half guard positions than Gordon Ryan’s. Gordon only covers knee shield, half butterfly and deep half guard. Lachlan covers these and all other variations, such as reverse half guard, underhook half guard and all half guard positions where you’re smashed flat on your back.

John Danaher’s vs Gordon Ryan’s half guard instructional

Gordon focuses on the positions from which you can attack (half butterfly, knee shield and deep half guard). John focuses less specifically on these positions, but also covers the positions where you’re being smashed with you back flat on the ground (cross face or body lock).

Lachlan Giles’ Half guard anthology vs Danaher’s half guard instructional

Lachlan Giles’ instructional is more complete. Both series cover positions where you’re being smashed flat on your back. But Lachlan covers many half guard positions in way more detail than Danaher, such as the knee shield, half butterfly and deep half guard.

Danaher’s Go Further Faster Half Guard Instructional vs New Wave

Go Further Faster is in the gi, New Wave is no gi. Other than that there’s very little difference, almost all the techniques are the same. The only real difference is the production quality, which is much better in the newer New Wave dvd.

Which half guard instructional is best if I roll in the gi?

Danaher’s Go Further Faster is the best half guard instructional that’s in the gi. However, there’s very little difference between gi and no gi for the half guard, so you can also consider to get a no gi dvd. There’s small differences in grips, but all the grips are very easy to replace (a belt grip with a tight waist grip, a cross collar grip with a cross shoulder post, etc.). You’ll just have to skip over some heel hook entries then, that’s all.

Why learn half guard?

Half guard is a great guard to learn because you don’t need a lot of strength or flexibility to play it. It’s easy to off balance your opponent in many directions because you’re so far under their center of gravity. That being said, if you mess it up it’s easy to get smashed in half guard, so you need to learn the details right.

Who’s good at half guard?

All the top BJJ players have great half guards. It’s not really a position you can skip and still be good. So you can choose your favorite instructor and learn half guard from them.

Also read: The 7 Best BJJ Instructors: Choose wisely who to learn from

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