It’s funny, because even before I reached the butterfly guard section of Jiu-Jitsu University, I began thinking of how I needed to get back into working on it. It’s one of the more simple guard and sweep combinations out there as well as one of the most effective. I tackled a few areas of them during last night’s class and things worked out well.
Every so often, a new white belt asks, “What do I do at the beginning of a match? What do I do when I’m on my knees after we slap hands?” I usually give some simple advice, like either get a collar and sleeve grip, step to the side to take top control or step to the other guy’s hip to pull guard. Those suggestions are fairly straightforward and pretty much could have been answered by the white belt if they just gave things a bit more thought. But one suggestion I’ve been giving lately is to pull and work butterfly guard.
There are many variations of this guard’s top half (arm battle), but I think relatively little changes when it comes to the legs. After the bottom player gets his hooks and scoots his butt towards his opponent, he simply rolls back and lifts his legs, with hooks attached, pulls his partner on top of him and lets his legs do the sweep. The bottom player’s arms are merely there to control the top players arms so they don’t base out. If, in the middle of the sweep, the top player manages to get an arm loose and post it, the sweep generally fails.
I’m going to post a video from Marcelo Garcia below that shows one version of the classic butterfly sweep. I’m just doing this for the beginners who find this page and want to know what this sweep is about. Marcelo Garcia is one of the best butterfly guard and sweep players on earth. If you watch some of his demo and competition footage, you’ll see that he works this combo very often. It’s an integral part of his game.
Marcelo Garcia – Butterfly Sweep from Open Guard
I watched the above video about a year ago and have had really good luck with Marcelo’s version of this sweep. The neck and elbow grips, combined with the “squeezing” action, combined with the laying to the side and lifting of the leg is awesome. Such a simple scenario that’s very high percentage.
The area of this sweep that I was working on last night was how to stay aligned with your opponent as you’re setting up and working this sweep. I got the idea from a video I saw that was put out by the Mendes Brothers. They were working on how to stay aligned while attempting to pull off the collar drag. As I watched the video, I thought of how I could apply the same idea to the butterfly guard setup. If I had an opponent who was extremely active (whether it be from standing or on his knees) and attempted to pass my sitting guard, I could continuously shift around the mat to stay aligned. When the opportunity arose, I’d move into butterfly guard, get whatever grips I wanted to use and perform the sweep. I tried this last night and it worked well. Staying aligned was key and after some time of my opponent not being able to make headway on passing my sitting guard, he changed tactics, which created an opening for me to set up my butterfly guard.
If you watch the video above, you’ll see how the bottom player’s position for the collar drag looks strikingly similar to Saulo’s and Marcelo’s butterfly guard setup. Many aspects of the two positions and techniques are interchangeable.
If you have the time and opportunity, I suggest you work some different variations of the butterfly guard. It’s one of the more basic areas of Jiu-Jitsu and it’s so simple, you may actually want to incorporate more of it into your game. Try it, see how it works and then come back here to share your experiences. Or, if you’ve already somewhat mastered it, please let me know in the comment section below, so we can discuss.