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BJJ Instructional Videos
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Rafael Formiga Barbosa

Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa is one of the most exciting and dynamic competitors today. Using his legendary Butterfly and X-Guards, Formiga has captured the Worlds Masters Championships multiple times and is almost always on the podium. Though he is a very fierce competitor and is often at the top of podiums, Formiga is also one of the nicest guys you can meet in Jiu Jitsu. He always has a smile on his face and always has time to interact with his fans at even the top tournaments when he should be under a lot of pressure.

Besides his accomplishments on the mats, Formiga is also the co-founder of one of the top teams in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; Soul Fighters. Soul Fighters was started in 2007 as a way to bring some of the top competitors together for amazing training and to push each other. In 2008 more black belts joined the team and it was officially named Soul Fighters which represented the values of the team, not only producing champions on the mats, but a having strong moral back bone as well.


Formiga is the cream of the crop of competitors, currently ranked #1 in the IBJJF Masters division. Formiga has won numerous titles and has been victorious in many superfights in his career. Some of his main titles include;

  • 2016 NY IBJJF Spring Open Championship- Master 1 Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2016 IBJJF Pan American Championship- Master 1 Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2015 U.S. Open- Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2015 U.S. Open- Open Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2015 World Master Championship- Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2015 Boston IBJJF Summer Open Championship-Open Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2015 Boston IBJJF Summer Open Championship-Open Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2015 NY IBJJF Summer Open Championship-Open Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2015 NY IBJJF Summer Open Championship-Weight Division- 1st Place Champion

  • 2014 World Masters Championships-  Weight Division – 1st Place Champion

  • 2016 IBJJF Pan American Championship- Master 1 Open Division- 2nd Place

  • 2015 World Master Championship- Open Weight division- 2nd Place

  • 2011 IBJJF New York Open- Weight Division- 1st Place Champion


Formiga is an amazing coach and instructor and has produced many champions for Soul Fighters. His butterfly and X-Guard game is truly amazing and he is able to teach his game incredibly well.


the butterfly guard

Learn the most complex butterfly guard system from the best in the world; multiple Worlds Masters Champion Rafael Formiga Barbosa.

The butterfly guard is one of the most popular guards there is showing itself to be very effective in grappling and MMA. Butterfly guard has proven itself to be effective at the highest levels time and time again.


Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa

Formiga was born January 8th, 1983 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Seeing Royce Gracie’s dominance in the early UFCs drove the young Formiga to want to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when he was just 11 years old. Luckily for Formiga and for all of us, there was an academy right around the corner from his house. Formiga began training under Andre “Dedeco” Almeida and would receive all his belts, including his black belt at 19, from Dedeco. Since Formiga was the youngest student in the adult class at the academy, his coaches started calling him “Formiguinha” which meant little ant in Portuguese. As he got older and grew his teammates began to just call him Formiga which is ant. And if you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing or actually rolling with Formiga, you know that Ant is the perfect nickname for him.

After some time as a top black belt competitor Formiga began to find it difficult to find quality training partners to hone his skills with, this lead to the partnership with Leandro “Tatu” Escobar, Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, and his brother Bruno “Tanque” Mendes to form a team where everyone would push each other and sharpen their skills. With the addition of black belt Alvaro Mansur, the team was official and the name Soul Fighters was decided on. The name was selected by popular vote by the entire team because it was felt that Soul Fighters best embodied the core values of the team.

Dedeco moved to the United States in 2005 to pursue further teaching opportunities and extended an invitation to Formiga to come with him and begin teaching as well. After a few years in 2010, Formiga made the move from Rio to Connecticut. Formiga began at a small gym in Cromwell, CT with Matt Bryers, and the two quickly expanded the gym into the larger Jiu Jitsu and Strength Academy. Formiga also began at teaching at several other gyms around Connecticut quickly expanding the Soul Fighters team and making it one of the top teams in New England, producing many champions at all belt levels.

All while expanding and improving his team, Formiga was tearing up tournaments capturing almost every gold medal in the area. He would take double gold in multiple Pan Ams and Opens, until 2014 when his hard work payed off and he was able to capture gold in his first World Masters Championship. It would not be his last.

After doing amazing things with the Soul Fighters team in New England, Formiga was given an amazing opportunity in Texas to continue to expand the team while sharpening his skills. Though it was sad for all his teammates to see him go, they were left in the very good hands of the savage Diogo “Moreno” Araujo. And Formiga still continues to make trips back to Connecticut.

Notable Techniques

Butterfly Guard.

If you no nothing else about Formiga, you know that his butterfly guard is legendary and absolutely the best in the game today. If you roll with Formiga you are going to take flight when he butterfly sweeps you. His amazing guard has gotten him almost every championship there is.

Formiga Butterfly Guard attacks and sweeps

The Butterfly Sweep Without Underhook by Rafael Formiga

How To Deal With A Wrestler From Butterfly Guard by Rafael Formiga


Formiga vs Clark Gracie

Formiga vs James Puopolo / World Master 2017

Masters Worlds Vlog: Formiga Wins Double Gold

Formiga Highlight

Consider to check other instructional videos:

Best of Butterfly Guard by Cesar Casamajo

The Complete Butterfly Guard by Marcelo Garcia

Butterfly Guard Re-Discovered by Adam Wardzinski

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