Is the 50/50 a stalling position?

by Stapho Thienpont May 01, 2016

Is the 50/50 a stalling position?

The 50/50 has been a very controversial position in bjj for the last few years for a variety of reasons. Some people claim it’s an unnatural position because you would get heel hooked under non ibjjf rules and other people say it’s a stalling position, used to top the fight. What is the truth behind the matter?

I made a video about this subject for the U jitsu YouTube channel that you can see below and in this article I will take the opportunity to go a little bit more in depth on the ideas discussed in the video.

What is stalling

Before anything else we need to talk about stalling. You are stalling when you try to stop the fight from progressing by holding onto your opponent in a way that makes it difficult for them to move without trying to do anything yourself.

Many positons can be used for stalling; you can stall from the closed guard, from halfguard, from side control etc. You can stall from pretty much any guard positon both from top and bottom. But you wouldn’t call the closed guard a stalling position would you?

In the video Erik says that stalling is more a mindset than anything else and I agree with this. When people get scared, are winning or want to conserve energy it’s very tempting for them to start fall into this mindset.

Luckily there are rules in place in order to minimize the amount if stalling in a match. When you are behind on points it’s extremely hard to start attacking and make a comeback when your opponent is stalling and it’s also extremely boring to watch a match where one person just stalls after scoring one advantage.

Stalling as an ugly tactical tool

Beside it being ugly jiu jitsu and kind of a lame thing, stalling is also something else. It’s a tactical tool that, like it or not, a lot of the top competitors have totally mastered. They are good enough at pretending to try something that they manage to avoid the rules and this offers them a huge advantage.

There are lots of scenario’s when this tool can come in handy: when you have to fight 7 fights in one day and need to conserve energy, when your opponent is extremely good but you somehow managed to get ahead or when it’s the final and all your options feel too risky.

Please don’t stall in training because it will probably not help you get better. But do pay attention in what kinds of positions it’s easy to get stuck in, this awareness will make it easier for you to avoid or look for these position when the situation requires it.

I wouldn’t recommend anybody to stall and I hope the referees and the rules get better at stopping it but you need to realize that it’s a tactical tool both within the match and within the entire competition day.

So what about the 50/50?

In the 50/50 you are both locking each other’s legs at the same times; this can make it very hard to move when you are both sitting down. When one person is standing then it’s hard for the person on top to open up the legs of the bottom guy and for the guy on the bottom it’s hard to free his own legs without getting their guards passed. It’s easy to see why some people view it as a stalling position.

When you get good at the position you learn how to deal with these difficulties though, you learn how to pass it when you are in top and you learn how to sweep and take the back when you are on the bottom. The problem is when people don’t know what to do, get scared and start holding on for dear life. Exactly the same as that guy in his second bjj class that just tries to lock you in the closed guard and tries to keep you there. But this doesn’t really effectively portray the possibilities this position has to offer.

In fact, a big portion of my game is based on the 50/50 precisely because I feel it offers so many opportunities to be aggressive. I know sweeps, back takes, basses, entries for the Berimbolo, wristlocks, armbars, footlocks, brabo chokes etc. etc.  And when the other guy isn’t experienced in the position (like many people are) then it will extremely hard to defend and anticipate my attack.


In my opinion there are almost no stalling positions (except for positions where you have literally no options except for holding on) but there are a whole bunch of positions where you could stall from if you were in that mindset.

While I believe you can stall from the 50/50 I believe it has too many other options to discard it as simply a stalling position. So learn how to use it aggressively  and help us give it a better reputation!

Stapho Thienpont
Stapho Thienpont


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