Defending & Staying Safe in the 50/50 with Alan Belcher

Alan Belcher is a top UFC competitor and is recognized as one of the best submission grapplers in America. His new “Immunity Course” is built to teach ANYONE how to beat more experience grapplers. Get in on his Free video series at:

As a leg lock junkie, I fully understand just how bothersome the 50/50 can be for some people.  Once the fight/match drops down to the mat, it becomes a tactical chess match as you and your opponent fight for one another’s leg.

Knowing just how easily a fight can finish from this position, it’s vital to know how to conduct yourself when you find yourself on the wrong end of the 50/50.  Luckily the Biloxi, Mississippi native, Alan Belcher, has a quick little video breakdown of how to go about defending the 50/50 and staying safe. He’s successfully defended heel hooks against Toquinho – so you can be sure that he’s a credible authority in this department!

Aggressive Heel Hook Defense, the Belcher Way

Alan, weighing in for another UFC fight!

Alan, weighing in for another UFC fight!

Disclaimer: First off, I hope you aren’t attempting this with a cast on your hand (check the video), that’s just for certified tough guys like Alan ‘The Talent’ Belcher!

When we find ourselves in the 50/50 guard, it’s easy to get panicky and begin to flop around as we try to escape the grasp of our opponent.  A likely submission they will go for is the dreaded heel hook.  We want to make sure that we have the jump on our opponent, because if they get the opening they want, it’s over.

As they drop back for the heel, we want to lock our legs in a figure four type of lock.  The key part to this is, the leg that ISN’T being isolated must tuck behind the back of our opponent.  The reason being if we leave it out there for too long, they could proceed to attack that foot instead.

Fighting For Your Grips

If our leg arrangements don’t do the trick for us, it’s okay, there’s another way to attack this submission setup!  Without wasting a second, we want to grab the wrist of the hand that is attacking our foot.  This is very, very important because it can setup a few different defenses for us.

With both hands, grab a hold of his wrists.  This will make him forget about your foot, and begin to fight to get his hand free.  If this doesn’t do the trick, try to get your hands on his elbow—which should be right by your heel—and slide it off of your foot and go for the control of his arm.

Adding to this, you’ll want to grab the back of his head and control his posture.  This will keep him close and stop any chance of attack.  Variety is the spice of life, and this is where it comes into play.  Once you have him right where you want him, you can do a few things: re-hook your legs, underhook his arm, and stifle his attack.

The 50/50 defense is a must have for any grappler—BJJ & MMA alike—and being able to calmly and effectively execute it is key.

-Dan Faggella

Dan runs a small Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school in southern Rhode Island called Black Diamond Mixed Martial Arts, and also interviews TOP MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors. Keep it locked here at for more interviews and breakdowns!

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