The Butterfly Guard is a very powerful sweeping position where you sit on your butt, leaning slightly forward, with both of your feet inside your opponent’s legs (click here for a quick intro to the butterfly guard on Grapplearts.com).
However you do NOT want to be flat on your back when you’re playing butterfly guard.
When you’re lying back like that you almost all the power behind your sweeps. You also sacrifice a lot of mobility, making it much harder to stop the guard pass.
This is why it’s really common for people trying pass your butterfly guard to first push you backwards using a ‘sumo wrestling’ kind of approach. Once you’re flat onto your back they’re much safer and they can also usually force their way into your half guard quite easily.
OK, so if being flat on your back is bad then the first order of business is to stay upright if you at all can.
Lean forward slightly, gripfight to prevent your opponent from laying hands on you, and be prepared to scoot your butt away to reestablish your angle if they begin to tilt your body backwards.
And – critically – if you do get pushed back then don’t just accept it and stay there…
It’s simple: sit back up!
But a lot of people try to sit back up incorrectly. They try to do an abdominal crunch motion, which is difficult enough when there isn’t someone lying on top of you trying to pin you to the ground.
There’s no way that your abdominals are strong enough to pull off a situp from butterfly with a 200 lb guy lying on you.
What you need to do is first get some of the weight off of you, and then generate some momentum in the right direction.
To do this properly the legs are the key!
Here are the 3 steps for sitting up when you’re flat on your back:
- Pull your opponent slightly forward so that his weight comes off his knees
- Kick his legs backwards, away from you, using your insteps
- Follow his momentum and sit up
A couple of clarifying points…
Sometimes there’s an optional step where you frame across his throat with your forearm before you kick him away, but usually if you do the kick properly you won’t even need to push his neck!
Also, if your opponent is latched onto your hips and sprawls as you sit up then you can lose contact with him. During that disconnection he can, if he’s good, pass your guard. To prevent this either grip fight to prevent him from getting a dominant grip, or be prepared to use the frame and hip escape movement to counter his guard pass after you sit up (that’s the first technique shown in my blog post about guard retention here).
The critical thing to remember about sitting up from butterfly guard: legs first, then upper body!
In case you’d like to see what this 3 part move looks like in real life check out this short video below. First I teach the butterfly guard situp. Then you can see someone 30 lbs lighter than I effortlessly do the same technique to me…
Check out the video:
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