The 50/50 Guard In BJJ

The 50/50 Guard In BJJ

The 50/50 guard can be one of the most annoying guards to deal with in Jiu-Jitsu. Although it can be a powerful weapon to use against your opponents.  

Even though it has been proven to be quite effective, the 50/50 guard has been a little controversial since coming onto the BJJ sceneHere is a little bit of history on the 50/50 guard in BJJ.

We’ll look at how it became a legitimate position and a few different techniques from the guard. 

 The 50/50 Guard in BJJ

Origins Of The 50/50 Guard

For years, 50/50 never had a name in Jiu Jitsu. It was sort of just a position that would sometimes pop up during a scramble that ended up in a leg entanglement.   

The two often credited for innovating the guard are the Mendes brothers, Rafael and Guilherme. Since they were lower belts, they had been developing a lot of their games off of the position. Setting up numerous sweeps, submissions, and transitions.  

50/50 helped them win numerous prestigious BJJ titles. Although, not everyone was a fan of 50/50 and thought it hurt the sport.  

What the man gripe was with parts of the BJJ community was that grapplers would stall in this position. Once they gained an advantage, some would have no problem sitting in 50/50 and waiting out the time to win.  

Although, the IBJJF had seemed to fix the stalling problem in 50/50 in 2015. Their new rule stated no advantages would be given in the position. Continued stalling would also result in warnings, point deductions, and even disqualifications.  

Even though the guard has had a little controversy, the 50/50 guard is still highly effective. Since it began being developed it has evolved into one of the most used guards in BJJ. Complete with numerous options for its users to sweep and submit their opponents. 

50/50 Ankle Lock

Here is a highly effective ankle lock that is powerful and also IBJJF legal. From 50/50, you cross your opponent’s foot to your other hip trying to lock up an ankle lock.  

A lot of times, your opponent knows this and either grabs your sleeve or wrist to defend. When they do this, pass your outside hand under their leg and grab your bicep. Then take your other hand and grab the opponent’s knee.  

Finish the submission by putting the blade of your wrist into their ankle and twist your body outward. BJJ champion Luiz Panza is a specialist at this move and shows you how to do it here.

50/50 Inside Heel Hook

When you have 50/50 with your opponent’s foot inside your hip, they can escape by turning out. The problem is whenever they turn to escape, they are basically giving you a free inside heel hook.  

You can either try to force your opponent to turn to the outside or go for an ankle lock. Doing either of these will get them to expose their heel. 

Once their heel is exposed, hook your wrist around their heel, clasp your hands together, and turn in. Here’s Lachlan Giles demonstrating this along with giving pointers for playing 50/50.

The Disrespectful Triangle From 50/50

It sounds like it should never work, but you can hit a triangle from 50/50 guard. It shouldn’t be a go to move, but you can sometimes catch an opponent sleeping.  

You stand up, shoot your leg up as you pull your opponent’s head forward locking them in a triangle. Ryan Hall says in the video, you probably won’t finish the triangle, but you do have a few other options

50/50 Scissor Sweep

In 50/50, your opponent  may try to stand up, which gives you many opportunities to sweep. One of them is a scissor sweep variation.   

Grab your opponent’s pants on the knee and turn on your inside hip. Next, you bring your inside foot in and place it on your opponent’s knee.  

At the same time, you kick their knee as you throw your leg over your opponent’s hip. Coming up on top in position to either leg lock or pass your opponent’s guard.  

Patrick Gaudio does a great job of demonstrating this technique in this video from BJJ Fanatics

50/50 Guard Pass

Since 50/50 is technically a guard, you will get 4 points if you pass it. This all starts from standing up.  

When you stand up, be sure to turn your knee out and not in. When you turn your knee in, this gives your opponent the opportunity to easily sweep you back down. Also turn your body with your knee and spread your legs, so they can’t hook them.  

Next, grab your opponent’s sleeve and palm their inside ankle, pushing it up to separate their legs. Once you push their leg, do a back step and grab their other ankle to further spread them apart.  

With both ankles controlled, stack them forward, rotate your outside out and step over to pass. For a visual, here is Keenan Cornelius breaking down this technique.

Key Details To Remember

The 50/50 guard can be a really effective guard to use within your Jiu Jitsu game. On the flipside if you make a mistake in 50/50 guard it can quickly be turned against you. Here are key details to remember when using this guard.

  • Remember it’s 50/50: Remember that 50/50 means that your opponent also has the same chance of catching you in a submission or sweep. You have to act fast and not be lazy with your defenses. 
  • Knee Control: To control your opponent’s leg in 50/50 you must have your legs locked above your opponent’s knee. Without establishing control above your opponent’s knee, they can easily escape and get up. 
  • Watch the reap: If you’re competing in IBJJF tournaments be sure not to hook your outside knee across your opponent’s leg. As soon as your leg goes across their knee, the ref will immediately disqualify you.
  • Standing: When both you and your opponent are on the mat in 50/50, remember the first to stand gets sweep points. But do not be careless when standing and be prepared for counter sweeps and guards. 

How To Defend The 50/50 Guard

The 50/50 guard can be really annoying to deal with. Especially when your opponent is up on an advantage and stalling. Here is how you defend against the 50/50 guard. 

  • Don’t Fall Back: When you’re in 50/50 and your opponent is going for a leglock don’t fall to your back. That is the worst thing you can do and give your opponent an opening to finish their submission. 
  • Free Your Knee: As mentioned in the key details, 50/50 requires control above your opponent’s knee. Once you’re able to free your knee it makes it extremely unlikely you’ll be submitted.  
  • Turn With Your Opponent: When you’re on top and your opponent is turning with control of your foot, always turn with them. Turning against them can seriously injure your knee or put yourself into a leglock. 
  • Stand up Or Stay Standing: Defending 50/50 is way easier to do from standing. From the ground it’s easier for your opponent to get sweeps and submissions. 

Final Thoughts

While 50/50 was initially blown off by old school grapplers as a stalling position it has proven very effective. What we listed was just a small taste of the possibilities from this position. 

This is a favoured position by many grapplers to land numerous sweeps and foot locks. We are in the new age of grappling, where practitioners emphasize on attacking the legs. Whether you like it or not, you will have to either learn how to attack from here or defend at some point!  

Train Hard! Roll Safe!