A Version of the Butterfly Sweep You've Never Seen
The butterfly guard is often considered one of the classic guard games in BJJ. The use of the feet or hooks to elevate an opponent or work to stay connected can be traced back to the pre-BJJ days of Judo's ground techniques. Butterfly guard is one of the first open guard systems to develop as practitioners began to explore life outside of closed guard. Over the years a number of legendary competitors like Renzo Gracie and Marcelo Garcia have used the butterfly guard heavily in their bottom defensive games. Marcelo Garcia became well known for using the butterfly guard to help set up his deadly X Guard and guillotine choke attacks.
The Classic Butterfly Sweep
For new practitioners, the first time they pull an opponent onto their butterfly hooks and roll back can be quite eye opening in showing how easy it can be to manipulate our opponents. A great exercise to experience this (and also as a warm up drill) is to scoot close to a kneeling opponent with both feet between your legs and secure double under hooks around your partner's waist. Simply by rolling back and pulling the opponent onto your feet and shins, we are able to demonstrate the importance of keeping one's hips underneath our opponent's hips during sweeps.
Furthermore, by extending the legs slightly, we are able to guide ourselves up to a seated position. From here we are able to launch into the classic 101 butterfly sweep by sitting up onto one hip with the opposite hook in. In most cases, this sweep is taught using an under hook on the opponent, with optional grabbing of the belt. Once this control is secured, the far hand of the opponent that could potentially base out if swept must be addressed by grabbing it and in many cases, it is taught to tuck their arm into our own arm pit.
From here, the person enacting the sweep will lean to the side of the far arm away from the butterfly hook and roll up on their shoulder on that side, using the hook to sweep the opponent over. The person getting swept will be unable to base out because their arm is secured and the hook has elevated their hips and they fall over, most likely to be mounted or put in a dominant side control.
This classic butterfly sweep is one of the earliest sweeps anyone gets exposed to well before they are even blue belts. Often times it is techniques like this that get passed over as it seems "everyone knows them" and they no longer work any longer on any of your training partners or opponents. Rather than abandoning these fundamental techniques, perhaps a better route would be to tweak them slightly to put your own spin on them and address the reactions that you are seeing from your opponents.
This is exactly the case of the unique butterfly sweep variation that Cesar Casamajo recently shared with five time world champion Bernardo Faria at his academy in Massachusetts. Check it out below.
How is this version of the butterfly sweep different?
In this version of the butterfly sweep, one of the first things you will notice is that the under hook which acts to secure you to your opponent and help steer them into the sweep in the classic version is not there. In this case, the opponent has secured an under hook of their own, which in their mind is necessary to help put your back on the ground and allow them to begin passing your butterfly guard.
Despite the loss of the under hook, the over hook grip that is secured with a connection to the opponent's belt will ultimately be used to launch them and in the meantime, will serve as a strong posture control to prevent them from pulling back and away making their base more formidable. In addition to belt control, the far hand is also monitored and controlled to keep them from being able to base, but much to their surprise, they are not being swept laterally like the classic butterfly sweep.
Instead Casamajo pulls Bernardo onto his hook and controls the basing hand, taking Bernardo head first into the sweep. From there Cesar extends his butterfly hook finishing the sweep and ends up in knee on the belly. Even if Bernardo would step up with his outside leg to base out and prevent the lateral butterfly sweep, this action would serve no purpose in this unique application of the butterfly sweep.
Casamajo has not only taking a classic technique and added a new perspective addressing a few of the most common defenses, but also underscored the fact that jiu jitsu techniques are made up of fundamentals and concepts that never change, but can be applied with slight variations to get even better results. In this case, the powerful butterfly hook is still used. In this sweep, the far hand must still be controlled. The key difference is the direction of the sweep that makes it effective.
Look for an instructional release from Cesar Casamajo soon focusing on his butterfly guard system, but in the meantime take advantage of Rafael Formiga's Butterfly Guard System available here from BJJ Fanatics!