50/50 Guard – Controversial but Powerful Position

If you have practiced BJJ at any point in your life, then you definitely know of the basic full guard. This is a position where you’re inside your opponent’s guard and his legs are wrapped around you. This is one of the most fundamental positions in BJJ. However, there are many different forms of guards that you can take. There’s spider guard, De La Riva guard, butterfly guard and many others. But if there is one specific guard that we’d like to single out, it’s the 50/50 guard (fifty-fifty guard). This guard is widely known for its versatility and application in the world of BJJ. By reading this article, you will get to learn more about it.

50/50 guard Origin

Little is known of the exact origin of the 50/50 guard. What little is known is that this technique is pretty old. There are images of people battling in this guard back in the 16th century. Modern BJJ didn’t fail to integrate this important guard. Nowadays, one of the leading minds behind the development of this guard is Ryan Hall. You will be able to find many BJJ instructionals that demonstrate the power of this guard, online.

50/50 guard Basics

Even if you don’t know anything about this guard and if your opponent doesn’t know anything about it either – chances are that the two of you will fall into this guard by virtue of chance alone. This goes to show that the 50/50 guard is a very common BJJ position. You will be able to do many different things from it if you learn the foundations properly. And the way to get into this guard is to put your leg over your opponent’s hip and his leg over your hip while the two of you are sitting down. And there you have the basic 50/50 guard.

50/50 guard attacks

50/50 Guard Straight foot lock

Arguably the most widely used move from this position is the good old straight foot lock, or the ankle lock. All you need to do is from this position, grab your opponent’s leg and perform the ankle lock. There are some details that you must obey when performing this move if you wish to do it correctly – but the straight foot lock will be a subject for another article. Suffice it to know that this move can be very easily performed from the 50/50 guard.

But also, you must be aware that what you can do from the 50/50 guard, your opponent can do as well. This position is very much unlike the classical closed guard where the person below can do all sorts of different attacks and sweeps, and the person above can only hope to open the guard and pass. In 50/50, both the grapplers have the exact same repertoire to perform. In fact, the name suggests this equality of arms – it’s the 50/50 guard. So, the point of this is to remember that your opponent can grab your foot as well. You need to protect it by doing a triangle with your legs – this is one of the most basic ways in which you can get defensive with the 50/50 guard.

50/50 Heel hook

The infamous heel hook can be performed very easily and effectively from the 50/50 guard. All you need to do, again, is to put your hands into a position for the heel hook. The heel hook is a move that we will describe in another article. Suffice it to say that it’s a very dangerous move. In fact, it’s so dangerous that it’s banned in multiple BJJ organizations around the world. If you do this move properly, then you may end up fracturing your opponent’s leg multiple times. Be careful how you perform the move from 50/50 – and be careful to not let your opponent do the same to you.


If you can reap your opponent’s knee from the 50/50 (depending on the rules), then you will be able to do an easy toehold. Just transfer your opponent’s leg to the other side from the 50/50 guard and grab the toehold. Again, this move may be illegal in some organizations – be mindful not to use it if you think that you will be disqualified.

50/50 guard pass

Getting pulled in to the 5050 guard and not being able to get out of it can be frustrating. Many BJJ practitioners don’t know what to do when they get into this position. This fact and all the leg locks you can do from here is the main reasons why is this guard is so effective.

Why to use 50/50 guard

The 50-50 guard can be a very powerful weapon in your arsenal if you know how to use it right. There are so many different moves and variations that you can try from here that it would take a full book to explain them all. However, you do need to be mindful that this is a BJJ specific position. If you use it in a street fight your opponent may end up kicking your face with his legs or just standing forward and punching you in the face. If you wish to see a demonstration of some of the 50/50 intricacies, then see video below or get this great 50/50 guard DVD from Ryan Hall.

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