50/50 Guard-Knee Bar Reverse into Heel Hook

Dan Faggella is a BJJ Academy Owner, No Gi Pan Am Champion at 130 pounds, and recognized expert in the area of leg locks. Dan writes or Jiu Jitsu Magazine, Jiu Jitsu Style, MMA Sports Mag, and more – find more of his leg lock articles and resources at www.BJJLegLocks.com

The best offense is an even better defense…I think that’s how the saying goes, at least.  Anyway, I’m sure you get where I’m going with this; in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, sometimes your defense and offense are one in the same, and can’t be easily distinguished!

For instance, the 50/50 guard is normally focused on people attacking and going on the offensive.  However, rather than putting a focus on when you engage the 50/50, allow me to shed some perspective on if you find yourself on the receiving end the position.

If your opponent engages in the guard, and begins attacking your legs, the key is to remain calm under any and all circumstances.  In this particular instance, I’ll discuss how you can sweep them once they go for a knee bar.  It’s a slick, easy to learn move! You can learn some of my favorite sweeps, submissions, and stratagies from the 50/50 guard in this article!


Knee Bar Defense to Heel Hook

Let’s jump right into it!


  • Your opponent has begun to attack, looking for the knee bar finish.
  • Being unable to roll away from the hold—assuming they have you pinned with their foot—you find yourself in a rough spot.
  • Make sure you swing your non-submission leg over the top of his torso and onto the mat.
  • While doing so, rotate your body so that the knee that is being held onto is facing downward on the mat.
  • Grab his bottom foot with one hand, and post with the other hand.
  • As you swing your hips through towards the mat, you want to bring his foot across your body towards your hip.
  • Once you swing through, the leg should be isolated and ready for a heel hook.


This move in particular is a quick hitter.  It has to be pulled off rather quickly in order for you not to get caught in the knee bar, and for you not to lose the match.  It calls for a lot of confidence in your skills and ability to move in awkward positions.

Quite frankly, this one is a favorite of mine.  Normally, opponents think they have you right where they want you when they attack a leg, until they get hit with this nice surprise. I love heel hooks because not only are they effective and easy to hit, but some people are actually afraid of them. This fear cause some people to tap even before you apply any pressure to the submission. This in turn makes for quick and easy wins. Mastering heel hook setups will skyrocket your grappling success. 

50/50 Guard-The Unsung Hero of BJJ

To put it simply, the 50/50 guard is highly underused.  An effective tool to have, the 50/50 can do it all: offense, defense, sweeps, etc.  It’s not even as if it’s an ineffective position to use seeing that there are big name grapplers that use it. In this article you can see big name fighters who use it and how they actually implement their 50/50 game.

Marcus ‘Buchecha’ Almeida, Caio Terra and Rafael Mendes are just a few names that come to mind when it comes to big names that execute the 50/50 guard. There has been a lot of controversy over the position as of lately though. Keenan Cornelieus and Paulo Miyao were disqualified in the 2013 Abu Dhabis for using it. The referee ruled that the two were stalling and it really has been fueling the fire for the debates in the BJJ community. I provided the video of the match itself below so you can watch it and make your own call.


Being able to conduct the proper 50/50 guard can take your game to the next level.  It’s certainly something that should be added to the arsenal, if it’s not something you utilize already.

Dan Faggella

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