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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 December 2011

14/12/2011 - Gracie Barra Bristol (Butterfly Guard)

Class #437
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 14/12/2011

Today Dónal (who has finally been promoted to a long overdue purple belt: congrats to him! :D) was looking at butterfly guard, which is handy because that's a guard I hardly ever use and have never been comfortable playing. As ever, Dónal had some cool drills at the start to help everyone understand the mechanics of the technique. He built up the complexity gradually, starting by have us slide one knee through (like you were playing baseball and skidding to the plate, if I've got that idiom right), then upping the difficulty by twisting to the other side first, then a small hop and twist back to slide through.

For drilling the specific mechanics of the butterfly sweep, Donal added in a drill to shrimping, where you are in butterfly guard position. So, you have one knee up, the other foot tucked in, same side arm braced inside your raised knee, while your other hand is posted behind for base. To move forward, use your posted hand and the foot of your raised leg to lift your hips slightly off the floor then slide forwards, with a similar motion to move backwards.

Next, from the same position, roll to one side, then posting on your shoulder, head and toes (for reference, that's the foot of the knee that would have been on the ground), push off the mat with your toes and swing your other leg up (so, that's the leg that would have been the raised knee previously). From there, Dónal then had us switch to basing with our hand rather than the head, so you could bring the knee of the leg in the air behind the leg on the ground, sliding through like in the baseball slide drill from earlier. Sounds complex, but worked pretty well as a drilling sequence. ;)

The first technique was therefore, unsurprisingly, the butterfly sweep. I have to admit I didn't actually get to see Dónal teach it, because there was something Geeza wanted to ask me, but judging by the drilling later when I rejoined the class, it was the classic butterfly sweep I'm used to (e.g., like the notes I wrote a few years ago, though I should emphasise that it isn't quite leaning back, as you're also leaning to the side of your non-raised knee).

Dónal then demonstrated a method of taking the back from butterfly, which relies largely upon reaching your underhook through until you can grab the back of their belt, palm down. Lean back slightly in order to make your hooking foot light, so you can extract that and kick it through (there is a possibility of getting passed, but your other leg is in position to at least take half guard if something goes very wrong).

Pull them past you with that belt grip, also twisting your arm over so that your shoulder and elbow are pressing into their upper back. That should enable you to move through to their back. When drilling this, I kept finding that I was ducking my head underneath their arm, which isn't the same thing. It is a bit like an arm-drag, but a sort of 'belt-drag' instead.

During sparring I'm still being careful of my neck, so with several people I though it made most sense to just give them a chance to work butterfly guard against resistance. It is tough to get the sweep to work against somebody who knows exactly what you're trying to do, as you can just stuff the leg, maintain your balance and post. So, I needed to keep in mind that the aim here was to help my training partner work on the technique with progressive resistance, rather than immediately shutting them down each time.

Hopefully it was useful: I tried to emphasise things like they needed to control my arm to stop me posting, be careful I don't put them flat on their back and maintain a hook on my inner thigh. Still, as my own butterfly guard is pretty pants, I'm not sure how much help I can be. Same thing happened when I had a white belt start on my back, as again I was looking to help them feel how I was trying to escape and what kind of reactions they should be expecting, as well as how to counter (e.g., if I start slipping out over one leg, well worth them trying to swing over and get to mount before they lose the position entirely).

Rolling with higher belts was cool too, starting with a typically relaxed spar with Dónal. I was mostly attempting to create frames to help recover guard, as well as continuing to shrimp rather than letting him settle into a position. Naturally we were going light, so I imagine he could have shut me down at various points. I still struggle a lot when I'm in somebody's open guard, as I always feel like I'm basically just waiting to get swept. However, the only way to get better at it is to keep on putting myself there. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do that with some lower belts too, to help build my confidence there.

That was highlighted again when rolling with Geeza. Not only is Geeza much bigger than me, he is also much better at jiu jitsu, so I'm often a bit uncertain how to approach the roll. As usual, he sat back and waited for me to attempt a pass, but also as usual, I ended up basically just flopping back without him even having to try and sweep. Still, I did at least try a sort of pass later on, where I spun to avoid his open guard, but that merely put me back in closed guard and also exposed my back (which he didn't take at that point, but it was certainly a major risk).

I had a chance to play around with the old running escape survival posture too, which I'm keen to practice against people who are much better than me. Against somebody who isn't that experienced, I can basically stall with the running escape, but somebody who knows what they're doing, like Geeza, will take the opportunity to set up a choke and take my back. So I'd like to try that more often, to really iron out the errors I making with the running escape, as I can be absolutely certain that a skilful grappler like Geeza is going to exploit them every time. :)

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