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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

14 January 2010

14/01/2010 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #276

RGA High Wycombe, (BJJ), Kev Capel, High Wycombe, UK - 14/01/2010

The weather has finally decided to let up a bit, with rain rather than snow today. That meant no problems getting to class, which tonight focused on the butterfly guard. This is something I've been told is good for short legs, so I'm keen to work it more, especially as I'm always trying to hook inside people's legs anyway.

Kev started with a method of moving into butterfly from closed guard, which is pretty much just shrimp out to a scissor sweep position, then get your feet inside their legs. From here, you have two main options in terms of grip. In the gi, you can hold their collar and grab their same side sleeve, then push it under their leg (the idea is to sweep them in the other direction, so they can't post.) Without the gi (although it still works with the gi too: it's the one I prefer, though that isn't saying much given my butterfly guard is very underdeveloped), you secure an underhook, then pull the other arm in towards you.

Having got into position, Kev could now show us a basic sweep from butterfly guard. Securing your preferred grip, drop back, shifting towards one side. Lift their opposite leg with your hook at the same time: it is important you use the momentum, rather than dropping back, then attempting to lift while flat on the floor. If you need extra power, push off with your other foot, ending up in either mount or side control.

Passing butterfly was slightly more complicated, though it's a technique I've seen Kev show before. Flatten them out, drive your head into their chest, putting your hands into their biceps and keeping your elbows tight. Next, you need to trap a leg against your stomach, accomplished by stepping back one leg, bringing it past their foot, then reinserting your knee under their shin. To further isolate that leg, reach under their outside knee and grab hold of their foot.

From here, shift your head slightly to the side, pinning their upper body by raising your hips and driving your weight through your shoulder. Push the leg you've isolated to the floor with your same side arm, then walk your toes around to side control, maintaining pressure with your shoulder and head all the way.

I was fortunate during specific sparring from butterfly, as I got paired up with people close to my own weight, which doesn't happen often. The first guy is slightly heavier, but quite new, so I was able to work some submissions. I was able to lock my legs in position for the triangle, but struggled to bring the shin back. I think that was because I made the error of not scooting back, so was too bunched up. I also failed to switch to the armbar properly, which is something I'd like to work on: very rare that I even make it to a vague set-up, so combinations are still a way off.

My passing was pretty sloppy, but I didn't get punished for it in the same way as normal because my partners weren't big, and they were also white belts. I kept flailing with my arms, and wasn't using my weight properly to trap their legs. I also had trouble flattening them out, as their arms tended to get in the way.

The second guy was even smaller than me, surprisingly, so I got a chance to see what it's like from the other side. I think I was occasionally using strength too much, getting past his butterfly guard by crushing his legs down, but in a manner that likely would have completely failed against somebody bigger. Still, I was pleased that I managed to get a nice back-step to pass in the other direction at one point, and even better it felt quite natural and instinctive.

Oh, and if the guy who offered me a lift (as his route takes him near my house) is reading this, yes, you've reached the right page. Click on the 'contact me' bit at the top. ;)


  1. Great post! I have been working my butterfly guard a lot lately...I'm finally starting to feel comfortable with it. It is so versatile.

    And I can't wait to try that butterfly pass. There is someone I train with who has an epic butterfly guard, and I would love to surprise him and actually pass it sometime. =)

  2. Do you try for the scissor sweep first and then go to butterfly if it fails or do you just shrimp out with a scissor motion that protect you and then go butterfly?

  3. @Stephanie: Yeah, it's something I'm keen to use more too. I hadn't really explored it properly until specific sparring yesterday.

    @Jason: The way Kev showed it, he was just using it to move into butterfly, making space with that shin in the stomach. However, I'd have thought you could threaten the scissor sweep if you wanted.

  4. Great post! I'm starting to try butterfly guard more and the problem I have with the sweep you mentioned is that I don't hip in enough before I try to bring the person's weight on top of me. Doh! Trying to get the hang of it down. Thanks for all the tips.

  5. How strange we did butterfly guard today to! and both our instructers are RGA brown belts.

    I find it quite hard to control people with butterfly guard and end up using it more as a way to get to x-guard. Saying that Ive been completely dominated by butterfly so I want to keep at it.