Let's study how to play bottom half guard in a punch defense situation by watching one of Andre Galvao's first MMA fights at Dream 10 – Andre Galvao vs Jason High.

Grapple Notes:

  • [8:14] Sumi Gaeshi. Nice butterfly sweep off the momentum of the takedown. Decide your strategy ahead of time: sprawl defense or butterfly counter.
  • [8:16] Underhook Half Guard is best for Punch Defense. Galvao shows that half guard is the strongest punch defense position from bottom. You must reach for an underhook on the near side and scoop the far leg for immediate emergency defense (also see Ben Askren vs Robbie Lawler, Chad Mendes vs Jose Aldo, Renan Barao vs TJ Dillashaw 1). Closed guard is only the best when the top opponent is naive to high-levelk Jiu-Jitsu. Note: Dream's ruleset did not allow elbows. High would have bludgeoned Galvao with elbows. In that case Galvao would have had to move quicker.
  • Let go a bit in order to move. Galvao had trouble getting the sweep at first because he kept his legs figure 4'd trying to hold onto the ankle. A strong scissor motion and leg curl (bite on the ankle) would serve both purposes (getting up and keeping control of leg) sufficiently
  • [10:55] Underscoop of Leg From Top. High uses my favorite defensive counter, which works against opponent's with a strong underhook half guard game.
  • [11:50] Kneecap Kneebar. High's didn't tap because his kneecap is right on the fulcrum. It's painful but it won't create a break on the knee (Remember Brock Lesnar vs Rank Mir 1? Brock spent about 6 seconds tapping before Frank Mir finally let go of the knee bar. Brock hadn't had much experience at that time.)
  • [12:50] Classic Dilemma: Defend Leg or Maintain Top Position. Galvao's seamless transition from leg entanglement to wrestling.
  • [14:40] Body Triangle Defense. It's tough but High should have fallen to one side and turned in to face Galvao. Sitting up forward does not work. it just exposes the neck.
  • [17:00] Mount/Back Surfing. Galvao doing a beautiful job maintaining top position. Not trying to stay on the back and risk landing on bottom. Insert hooks, release hooks, over and over and over.