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5 Common Butterfly Guard Mistakes with Adam Wardzinski

5 Common Butterfly Guard Mistakes with Adam Wardzinski


The butterfly guard is a popular choice among practitioners of all levels, sizes, and styles.

It offers us an array of dynamic options and the position continues to evolve at a rapid rate. One of the main draws of the BFG is the ability to create pockets of opportunity where we can elevate our opponents. This can can lead us to many favorable scenarios, as elevation and off balancing are paramount when attacking from underneath.

This black belt is bringing butterfly back!  Click Learn More!


Adam Wardzinski has emerged as a new titan of the BFG position, and he’s breathing new life in to the popular form of guard. His work with the BFG is masterful, and he’s had some great success at the highest levels of competition.

Do you have trouble putting the BFG to work in your game? Maybe you’re missing some key details that are critical for success. If you’re a fan of the BFG, you may want to give this video a watch. Here, Wardzinski gives us 5 things to think about that we may be doing wrong. Take a few moments to watch, and see if there’s anything that you’ve been missing!


PROBLEM #1 – The Wrong Position of the Body

After you engage, and connect to you training partner, do you often set your hooks and fall to your back, or allow your partner to drive you back down to your back? This is the subject of the first pitfall of the butterfly guard. As Wardzinski states, regardless of the form of upper body control you prefer (under hook, over hook, clamping the arm) you must always fall to your side as you continue through the process. Even if your partner is the one driving you back to the mat, you still must guide your body to its side to have any hopes of using the BFG successfully.

When you remain flat, the top player’s passing options become many, and your ability to elevate has been drastically decreased. Always get to your side!

PROBLEM #2 – Lack of Control of the Arm

Once we establish the BFG, our opponent’s far arm, which is often posted in some manner must be controlled. If we hope to reverse our opponent, we will have to collect this arm in some fashion.

A strong over hook is probably your best bet here, as this type of control completely consumes the arm, and makes off balancing much simpler.

Wardzinski offers some alternate ideas as well with a grip on the sleeve. With this form of control, he can push the arm underneath his partner, or even to the outside of his partners body. The main goal being to get the arm as close as possible to his partner’s body, or his own. This shrinks his base and provides the right conditions for a sweep. If the hand is too far away, Wardzinski simply moves his body to the hand and acquires it.

However, you choose to do so, control that far arm!

PROBLEM #3 – Not Using the Bottom Leg

Many of us associate the butterfly guard with that top hook. And yes, when it comes to elevation, and reversing, it does do much of the work. But, don’t forget about the bottom leg, it plays a more important role than you may think.

Rediscover this classic effective guard!  Click Learn More!


As you begin performing your sweep, the bottom leg plays a critical role in generating the power you need to finish a clean reversal. As Wardzinski elevates his partner, He’s using the bottom leg to assist him in making the reversal stick. If your partner has a good base, and you’ve run out of room with the top hook, the bottom leg can finish the job. It may just give you the extra push you need to finish a hard-fought sweep. If your opponent is doing a good job of avoiding the reversal you can even jump your bottom leg closer to create even more elevation to get the job done.

Don’t forget about your bottom leg!!

PROBLEM #4 – Knee Too Close to the Central Line of The Opponent’s Body

When positioning himself in the butterfly guard, Wardzinski is careful to keep his hips open wide. This keeps the structure of his butterfly guard solid. When he’s ready to sweep his partner, this positioning will allow his knee to ride on the outside of his partner’s body. Not keeping the hips and knees wide open will lead to the collapse of the guard’s structure, especially in the later stages of the sweep, where our partner is on the verge of succumbing to the reversal.

PROBLEM #5 Wrong Position of the Head

Wardzinski keeps his head to the same side as his butterfly hook. This keeps the mechanics of the sweep in line, and allows him to execute it properly. Placing the head on the opposite side can lead to your partner crashing down on your head. Even if the posted arm is far away and needs to be acquired, Wardzinski will extend himself to capture the arm, but immediately return to proper positioning of the head.

So, there you have it. See anything you’ve been missing? Take these 5 tips in to consideration the next time your working from the butterfly guard and see if you have a bit more success! Good luck!

For more from Adam Wardzinski, check out his Butterfly Guard Rediscovered from BJJ Fanatics!  The techniques you will learn in this series are the same he used to pave the road to his victory at the 2018 European ADCC Trials!  Get your copy here!




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