Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 28/02/2012
Dónal began with the sensible plan of helping people learn how to maintain butterfly guard, which is certainly something I need help with. Chiu did a detailed lesson this a few years back, but I think a lot of it went over my head. Dónal kept things relatively simple, which boiled down to several useful points.
First put your arm on the outside of the knee you have up. That will make it more difficult for your partner to push your knee down: if they can get both your knees squashed to the mat, that puts them in a great position to pass. Second, keep your bum back and your head up (to avoid guillotines). If you get too close, it becomes easier for them to push you over, so scoot back slightly to improve your base.
Third, grab their knee on the non-underhooking side. For this version of the butterfly, you want grip low enough on the gi material that you are actually grabbing by their knee, not just above it. An easy way of checking that is to get your partner to stand up: you'll then immediately see whether or not you were in fact grabbing the knee.
That was followed by an option Dónal showed a little while ago for taking the back. 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 (almost a ghost is putting you in a kimura). That should enable you to move through to their back. It is a bit like an arm-drag, but a sort of 'belt-drag' instead.
During sparring, I was again reminded that I'm not finding myself underneath anywhere near as much as I used to. That's probably because I'm mostly with less experienced training partners who are either around my size or smaller. However, that's great for working my top game, which previously has always been a weakness.
On the other hand, I shouldn't forget about escapes. Once I can finally get back into normal training, I'll need to make sure I try starting from bad positions more often (speaking of which, I must stick to butterfly: I kept instinctively shifting to more comfortable guards, like spider). It would be a bit silly to at long last develop a top game, only to find that my escapes had gone to crap. ;)