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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

01 February 2017

01/02/2017 - Teaching | Open Guard | Butterfly Sweep (Thumb In Grip)

Teaching #626
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 01/02/2017

Marcelo Garcia has written that when passing butterfly guard, it's important to keep in mind that "unlike the closed guard or half guard, in the butterfly guard, your opponent is not trying to hold you in place." In my opinion, the ensuing dynamism and movement makes butterfly guard a more advanced position, which requires greater sensitivity and timing than closed or half guard.

I like to start with the most basic technique in butterfly, which is the classic butterfly sweep. There are numerous grips to try, but for me there are three main ones: collar and sleeve, deep underhook and the shoulder clamp. Having the collar opens up chokes, as well as providing excellent control to switch into other attacks and sweeps. The shoulder clamp gives you the option of sweeping in either direction (either away from underhook side, or if you can get your arm by their head, leveraging up with your elbow under their head to go towards the underhook), as well as things like pressing armbars and omoplatas.

With the legs, it tends to be slightly more straightforward. Either you're going to have both feet hooked under their thighs, with your knees flared out wide, or you'll have one hook in, the other knee on the ground: I'd recommend the latter. That angle helps with the sweep, I find, as well as making it harder for them to drive your back to the mat. In both leg configurations, you want to have your forehead driving into their chest. If they can get their head under yours, that's problematic, because then they can drive you flat on your back and start their pass. Keep your bum back and head forward, to strengthen your posture and stop them pushing you backwards.

Butterfly also links back to sitting guard, of which butterfly is effectively a short range version. That's because in both, you can put an arm behind you for base and mobility. It makes it harder for them to collapse you to your back, while also enabling you to keep angling off. That sets you up for attacks (especially the butterfly sweep, along with various fun from the underhook, like pressing armbars, back takes etc). Armdrags are another big area for butterfly, though that's a topic for another day.

A video posted by Artemis BJJ (@artemisbjj) on



Today, I went with the thumb in grip, something I've been playing with recently. This connects to the closed guard into open guard I also teach (based off Neil Owen's first seminar with us), plus it is similar to sitting guard. You have a cross-collar grip, with your thumb inside and fingers on top. I find that grip means the alignment of your arm naturally presses more firmly into their neck. That sets you up for the butterfly sweep movement. Your other hand will initially be back for base (as per what I just said above), to stop them collapsing you backwards.

Whatever grip, the basic mechanics of the sweep are broadly similar. You need to have some kind of control over their arm on the side you want to sweep, otherwise they will be able to post. Grab the sleeve or the wrist (in this scenario, they have just been pushing on your leg to open your closed arm, so the wrist is right there to grab), possibly the elbow if you can sufficiently control their lower arm too. Lean back very slightly to get their weight towards you, then drop sideways onto your shoulder on the sleeve grabbing arm, lifting with your butterfly hook as you drop. Switch your legs, bringing one under the other in order to establish scarf hold, heavy on your cross face (or move into knee on belly, depending how they land). If you've lifted them up but they aren't going over, try hopping towards your lifting leg with your other leg. That should eventually provide the leverage to knock them to the mat.
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Teaching Notes: Usual things to emphasise. Make sure your main motion is dropping sideways, not backwards. Also, it's just a flick with your foot, you don't want to follow through, or you are likely to get your leg stuck in their half guard. I also want to make the starting position clearer next time. Another thing I could add in is yanking up on the sleeve/wrist you've grabbed, a good option I noticed a few people were doing. You can go for an overhook for controlling their posting arm too, but be careful they can't post with their hand and that you haven't got their arm at a nasty angle.

I'd forgotten about the entertaining flip pass drill until I checked my notes from the last time I taught this sweep, but that's one I could add in again. It isn't the highest percentage way to pass, but it makes for a fun drill (and therefore a good drill! :D). Put your head and arm on the right, which will be your main base. Your head is by your opponent's side, tucked in tight. You can also use your left hand for base. Kick your feet up like your were doing a handstand, going all the way over into a bridge (aim to get the soles of your feet on the mat, to the left of their head). Finish by turning towards their legs.

That is a little acrobatic for some, so you can also go for the less intimidating versions. One step down is to do a handstand, then drift past the legs, well out of range, dropping into side control. Safest of all is to do a hop past their legs, using that base. It is the least scary, but it is also the easiest to stop, as they may be able to get their knee in the way. I put up a video on Instagram last time, where the class was sticking with that safe hop (though Paul did give the handstand a go, plus there were people behind me going for the full flip, but I didn't manage to get that in the 15 secs of video Instagram used to limit you to. Next time I can get more, as the limit has increased to a full minute since I did the below vid. Yay!):


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