The half butterfly guard is a variation of half guard where you entangle one of your opponent’s legs with your inside leg and then insert a single butterfly hook under his thigh with your outside leg.
As such this position combines aspects of both the traditional half guard AND the butterfly guard.
Two of the most popular attacks in the half butterfly position are
- Sweeping your opponent using your butterfly hook, and
- Kicking your bottom leg through into the ‘ashi garami’ leg entanglement where you can hunt for a heel hook or other leglock
Let’s look at a couple of different ways to do these attacks, starting with sweeping…
The problem with the half butterfly, unlike the regular butterfly guard, is that you’re usually flat against the ground when you start the sweep.
And because you can’t use the momentum of falling down from a sitting position it means that your butterfly sweep will have a little less ‘oompf’ behind it!
So what can you do to make that sweep from the flat-on-the-ground-half-butterfly-guard a credible attack?
Well, in the video at the top of this page Rob Biernacki and I went over two general strategies..
1 – Half Butterfly Sweep Emphasising the Pump Action Shotgun Motion
The first sweeping strategy is to get an underhook and use what I call ‘pump action shotgun motion’.
Remember the old adage that if at first you don’t succeed then try, try again? That’s what you’re doing here.
Unless your legs are super-strong or your opponent is super-uncoordinated it’s unlikely that your first attempt to sweep him with your butterfly hook will be a success.
So follow up your first sweep with a second sweep, and even a third sweep if necessary.
The trick is to try a sweep, then reset your bottom leg into position and sweep again.
Just watch the video at the top of this section and you’ll understand the pump action shotgun motion that I’m talking about!
2 – Sweep from Half Butterfly Sweep with Two-On-One Grip
The first option – the pump action shotgun sweep usually requires you to get a solid underhook on your opponent.
But he’s not always going to give you that underhook… sometimes he’ll stay a little bit back, fight to block the underhook, and refuse to engage forward.
In that case you’ve got another option: getting a two-on-one grip using both of your hands to hold his wrist like a big sandwich you’re about to eat.
Then sweep him with your hook while at the same time pulling his hand up and out of the way to kill his ability to post.
If he can’t post his hand for base then usually you can knock him over with your sweep and often get straight to the mount with this technique.
3 – Leglock from Half Butterfly with Two-on-One Grip
Often your opponent will react to your efforts to sweep him with the two-on-one grip by shifting his weight to his right (away from the direction of the sweep).
If that happens he usually sets himself up for another attack – a leg entanglement known as ‘ashi garami’.
Try to sweep him and then, when he shifts his weight, continue pushing him in that direction while kicking your bottom leg through his legs and bringing your foot to his hip.
From here it’s child play to finish the heel hook (or ankle lock) submission.
Or you can try attacking with the leglock first, and when he dives his weight the other way to prevent you from lifting his leg then you can hit the sweep.
In other words, the sweep and the leglock entry work together.
(To get a better picture of ashi garami and how it fits into the hierarchy of leglock positions check out the free PDF guide to leglock positions that Rob and I put together here.)
Most people with a good half butterfly also have excellent butterfly guards; the two go together.
To improve your butterfly guard a really good resource on this site is volume 2 of Brandon Mullins’ Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu. It’s basically a complete plan for the butterfly guard, with a progression of grips and techniques by a BJJ world champion!
Also if you want to explore the leg locking aspects of the half butterfly guard then I suggest you check out The Modern Leglock Formula instructional that I did with Rob Biernacki because it has entries to leglocks from everywhere, including half butterfly guard.