As I was heading home from a workout recently, someone mentioned that their butterfly guard just wasn’t working for them. I put down my bag, got back on the mat, and started trying to metamorphose his butterfly guard. I think I gave him some pretty useful and concise advice, which I’m now going to share with you:
1 – Float Like a Butterfly, Sweep Like a Bee
The butterfly guard is a DYNAMIC position. This means that you need to keep on moving and attacking. Your legs aren’t locking your opponent in place, so if you stop and hang out your opponent will probably figure out how to pass your guard. By always threatening the sweep you make it difficult for him to impose his own game plan.
2 – Get Up, Sit Up
To be effective from the butterfly you need to get your back off the mat and sit up. There ARE some people who are effective with their backs flat to the mat, but they are in the minority. Furthermore it is possible that these same people would be even more effective if they would only sit up…
Sitting up allows you to generate more momentum on your sweeps. If you sit up you can drive forward, fall to the side or fall backwards; all these movements can generate a lot of power. If you are already lying on your back you have less options and it takes a lot more effort to generate power.
3 – Develop At Least Two Reliable Attacks
In order to attack your opponent effectively you need a couple of reliable sweeps to start everything else off. These bread and butter attacks will become the foundation of your game, kind of like the jab and cross in boxing. For many people two such techniques in the butterfly guard game are the ‘basic’ butterfly guard sweep the armdrag.
The ‘basic’ butterfly guard sweep works at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, so it is anything but basic. Learn to do it both sideways and at a 45 degree angle (discussed in more detail here).
The armdrag is a great way to take your opponent’s back, but even if it doesn’t work it still harasses your opponent and puts him on the defensive. I have learned a lot about the armdrag by studying video footage of Marcelo Garcia in competition.
4 – Develop Your X Guard and Half Butterfly Too
The butterfly guard works particularly well in conjunction with the X guard and the half butterfly guard. The X guard is very useful if your opponent stands up or posts a foot: when he does this you can slip underneath him, completely destroy his base and sweep him. It is also good to know what to do from the half butterfly because some opponents will basically put you in this position as they try to pass your butterfly guard. If you don’t know what the half butterfly guard look at position 2 of this preview clip.
If you know even a few techniques from the half butterfly and X guard you will be able to take advantage of your opponent’s moves rather than feeling intimidated or not knowing what to do.
And finally, here’s a video I did showing you the three most common errors in the butterfly guard