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Butterfly Guard Sorcery with Jonathan Satava

Butterfly Guard Sorcery with Jonathan Satava



The butterfly guard is one of those interesting positions that offers more than we can possibly imagine. The possibilities are endless. Forward, backward, and side to side movement can all be taken advantage of in a myriad of ways. Patience is key when you being to study the butterfly guard, as you will probably get your guard passed quite a bit in the process. Until we get those butterfly hooks working effectively, be prepared to give up some position during the leering process. Don’t let this deter you from the position. Put your ego aside and stay the course. The butterfly guard may become your home base for attacking from the guard. 

There’s no butterfly guard quite Marcelo Garcia’s. His game from the butterfly guard is legendary and he’s been developing and evolving the position for years. He utilizes it in such a way, that when you watch him train, it almost seems like magic. There’s no safe place to be henhouse kneeling in front of him and looking to advance. 

In addition to his own impressive game, Garcia has passed on the butterfly guard torch to many of his students and they’ve continued to make their own innovations and addendums to the butterfly guard as they see fit for their own game. One of Garcia’s star pupils is Jonathan Satava. Satava has developed an incredible butterfly guard game under the tutelage of Garcia and unleashed it on the rest of the world. His understanding of the position is otherworldly and he’s developed an entire system for implementing the butterfly guard effectively and efficiently. 

Satava will be headed to Anaheim, California this weekend to try and work his way through he stacked 77kg division at ADCC 2019. Satava won the North American trials in 2017 and earned the right to chase ADCC gold. With an impressive resume and a growing list of great accomplishments, Sattva will be looking to add the great honor of an ADCC title to his lengthy list of competition achievements.

Let’s get some insight in to Satava’s butterfly guard world and see if we can understand what makes his game so special. Let’s start with a segment of instruction on understanding the butterfly guard. This is a great introduction to the many utilities of the position. Have a look! 


Elevation is one of the most important and attractive qualities of the butterfly guard. If we can get underneath our opponent’s and elevate them, our chances of imposing our game go up drastically. This is where Satava begins his teaching. As he explains, his goal is to get his hips as close to his partners hips as possible. Coupling this with double under hooks is probably the best position we can achieve from the butterfly guard. It provides complete and total control. As you can see there are different layer of control. Satava demonstrates wrist control, elbow control, and then finally the double under hooks. They all have their own unique properties and different advantages. Simply stated, the further Satava can get under his partner’s base, the better. 

Master the Butterfly Guard with Jon Satava! Click Learn More!


The way Satava approaches his opponents also has a great deal to do with their reactions and intentions as well. As Satava demonstrates, when the arms are closed tight to the body, the base is more compromised and easier to disrupt. IN an example, Satava engages in a pommeling match where as his partner pommels to the inside, Satava is able to close the elbows together and perform a sweep. On the opposite end, if his partner is more concerned about maintaining a good base, this is where submission opportunities begin to present themselves. As Satava notices these openings, he takes advantage of them. Playing these two ideas off of each other will give the guard player many options and begin to confuse the passer, allowing us to impose our game. 

When elevation and attack opportunities aren’t quite as available, Satava can look to wrestle up from the bottom position. Seeping left to right is a major concern for the passer. If they become focused on posture and not allowing Satava to enter to sweep, he can choose to come up out of the position and use a takedown to reverse. This once again show us the incredible versatility of the position. 

When dealing with a standing opponent, Satava creates a structure with his body that looks just like a technical lift style position. Here he can be mobile, move in and out, and retreat if necessary, as his partner advances. He also places a large emphasis on redirecting his partners head. Redirecting the head keeps his partner from being able to settle in on the side he wishes to pass to and buys Satava time to respond to his opponents’ efforts to pass. 

At the closing of the instruction, Satava shows us how he likes to use the arm drag when the passer focuses on controlling his feet. Here, he uses the arm drag to get to the back, and worst-case scenario his partner postures up, which again brings Satava in close tot eh hips and allows him to get underneath his partner, once again bringing things full circle. 

This is great quick start guide to the butterfly guard. There’s a ton of information packed in to this short video with some great detail that can help you elevate your butterfly guard game instantly! 

When we think about the butterfly guard, we often think mostly about elevation. Though the butterfly guard is fantastic for that particular concept, it is more well-rounded than you might think. Here, Satava demonstrates a double leg style reversal from the butterfly guard that may catch your partners off guard a bit. Check this out! 


When fighting from the bottom, its never a good idea to try and force something that’s not there. If Satava’s partner is positioning himself in a manner that is not conducive to a sweep or an attack, he must change his game plan. Here, Satava secures a two one grip on the arm. As his partner resists by posturing up and using his free arm to keep Satava at a distance, Satava uses the opportunity in a unique way. He uses the control of the two on one to clear his partner’s arm up and out of the way. He then configures his legs in an S-style position and begins to rise up from the mat, connecting to the hips and driving his partner over for a double leg reversal. 

This is a more unorthodox technique from the butterfly guard, but it again shows the multi directional functions of the position. 

Satava is a true master of the butterfly guard position and were looking forward to seeing him employ it this weekend at ADCC 2019! Satava has an amazing toolbox and the potential to make it in to the later rounds, as he is most definitely a force to be reckoned with. ADCC gold would be a great addition to this storied competitor list of accolades! Good luck to you sir! 

The Modern Butterfly Guard No-Gi By Jon Satava gives you an In-Depth look at the 2018 ADCC East Coast Trials Champ’s Butterfly Guard. The Modern Butterfly Guard No-Gi is a 4 part instructional that is sure to UPDATE and IMPROVE your Butterfly Guard. Cover all of the aspects required to be a Butterfly Guard MASTER. Learn the Grip Variations, Sweep Attacks, and Submissions that make Satava Great!



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