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BUTTERFLY HOOK BJJ
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BUTTERFLY HOOK BJJ

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The art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an extremely intricate form of ground fighting Martial Arts. The combat structure has a wide range of technical systems that incorporate transitional components, positional control, submission artillery, and an extensive series of guard positions. In BJJ an athlete can become a top game player, or a guard specialist, with the more advanced athletes utilising a combination of both. If an athlete specialises in guard positions there is an extensive range of different guards they can master. 

What this article covers:

Using defensive guards like the closed guard, or the half guard are important tools, but there are also many attacking guards like the 50/50 guard, the spider guard, the butterfly guard, and the open guard. 

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butterfly hooks bjj

Guards like the de la riva, the x guard, and the butterfly guard all use hooks to elevate their opponents. This type of attacking guard style is highly technical, and an athlete has a large variety of different options available.

WHAT IS A BUTTERFLY HOOK 

The butterfly hook is an easy technique to explain, as it is simply an athlete's foot used as a hook into the groin of an opponent. This hook can be used to stop an opponent from passing the guard, or it can be used to elevate an opponent, in order to execute sweeps, or submissions. The butterfly hook can be doubled up, as using two hooks into the groin area, coupled with an over hook, and an under hook is a position called the butterfly guard. This type of guard is highly attacking, and can also be secured with two under hooks, or two over hooks. Butterfly hooks can be set up from the basic open guard position, or they can be threaded into the groin of an opponent during transitional moments in a fight. Using these hooks can be extremely advantageous, as they will allow an athlete to create space, or unbalance their opponent.

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HOW TO ENGAGE AN OPPONENT WITH THE BUTTERFLY 

Sometimes an opponent can be extremely quick to get an athlete onto their back, and this is the worst thing that can happen. An athlete that allows an opponent to apply too much pressure will struggle to regain any form of control, let alone be able to activate their butterfly hooks. From the seated guard position, an athlete should remain strong with their posture, as a standing opponent tries to enter their space. The opponent may try to apply pressure towards the upper body, or attempt to control the legs for the pass. An athlete must keep their feet grounded, because if they lift them up, it can become easy for the opponent to get the athlete onto their back. Staying strong in the shoulders, and leaning forward to be centred over their hips, will make it hard for the opponent to manipulate their body structure. The instant an opponent makes a move, whether it's forward, or backwards the athlete must make an instant connection. This can be by placing a shin against their opponent's shin, or cupping the back of their ankles, either way the athlete needs to have some form of connection, while maintaining a strong posture, so they can easily thread in a butterfly hook. 

INTRICATE DETAILS OF THE BUTTERFLY HOOK

The butterfly hook can be used as a defensive structure, or as an effective way to attack an opponent. The defensive components involve using a hook in the groin, and as the opponent begins trying to pass an athlete's guard, they can slide their hook down the hamstring and into the crook of the knee. This will help to elevate an opponent's leg too high, so the opponent cannot free their leg from the hook, and in most cases this will make them easy to sweep. Another neat trick that an athlete can use, is once they have elevated their opponent's leg, and hooked into the crook of their knee, they can use their other hook to trap the crook of their ankle. This will create a locking mechanism on the opponent's leg that can be extremely annoying to escape from.

Using an attacking style of butterfly hooks can help an athlete achieve a diverse range of sweeping, and submission maneuvers. Utilising one butterfly hook while an athlete is turned onto their side can be a sneaky way to trap an opponent into highly advanced submission maneuvers like the calf slicer, or the heel hook. Some athletes like to stay chest to chest with their opponent, while keeping their knees high, and this is so they can use their rocking momentum to engage into positions like the ashi garami. Using sweeps from the butterfly hook do not have to go in one direction, as all the athlete needs to do is turn their hook to whichever side they want to sweep their opponent to. All it takes is intricate grip systems like holding onto the belt, or redirecting an opponent's sleeves deep into their abdomen. This is how an athlete can redirect an opponent's weight distribution to unbalance them, and force an easy transition.

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SWEEPING FROM THE BUTTERFLY 

There are multiple sweeps that can be achieved using the butterfly hook. One of the easiest sweep mechanics is by securing the butterfly guard position, which is one over hook, and one under hook, with one butterfly hook in on the same side as the under hook. The athlete's other leg can help to trap the outside leg of their opponent's body, while elevating the butterfly hook to turn the opponent onto their back, in the direction of their over hook. Another extremely effective sweep is from the failed scissor sweep. This can happen when an opponent steps over the athlete's leg to attempt a guard pass. The athlete will use that leg as a hook, as they secure a wrist grip, while reaching over the back of an opponent's shoulder, and trapping the lat muscle. From here they can pull their opponent's weight up over their abdomen, as they look to turn their opponent to the outside of their hook, and circling their opponent's body to achieve the reverse scissor sweep.

One of the highly regarded sweeps from the butterfly guard will require an athlete to load up their opponent onto both of their hooks. The next step is to secure sleeve grips, or two wrist grips, and begin to push their opponents hands into their abdomen. At the same time the athlete will need to use their hooks to elevate the opponent, as they sweep them directly over their head. Because the athlete has a good momentum happening they can easily follow the sweep movement, by rolling over their shoulder, and landing straight into the full mount. Another highly successful sweep, which is more of an escape, requires an athlete to use both of their hooks to kick their opponent backwards. This movement will create enough space that the athlete can direct their opponent's head towards the mat, as they post with their other hand off the mat. This will allow the athlete to lift their hips, and shoot their leg backwards, as they come to a standing position. The technical standup is a valuable resource, and can be used from a variety of different guard positions. 

Sometimes trying to sweep a higher level opponent doesn't always go to plan, and as an athlete rocks them backwards to look at different guard entries like the single leg x, the opponent will cross their ankles. This can make it hard for an athlete to achieve any kind of entry system, so the athlete needs to use the momentum they have created to execute a different sweep. As the athlete rocks back, and then comes forward they will use that momentum to drive forward into an s sit to a kneeling position, as they use their hips to generate enough force to come up on top of their opponent. Because the opponent has their ankles crossed they will have no ability to post their feet to stop the sweeping mechanism.

SUBMISSIONS FROM THE BUTTERFLY 

Setting up submissions from the butterfly guard can be extremely effective, and commonly they will be reactive to how an opponent tries to defend the guard. Sometimes an athlete will initiate a submission attack, where other athletes will wait to react to how an opponent tries to pass the butterfly hook. Usually if an athlete begins to elevate an opponent's hips during a hook sweep, they will usually counter by trying to shift their weight to the opposite side that the athlete is trying to sweep them. When this happens, the athlete will simply switch the direction of their hook sweep by reaching over the back and grabbing the belt in the Gi, or the lat muscle in No Gi, and angling their hook in a reverse direction. During this transition the opponent's bottom leg will pop up, as they are being swept, and this is the perfect chance for the athlete to scoop around the back of the leg, and hyperextend the knee joint in a tight knee bar submission.

Using butterfly hooks to push an opponent's hips away, can create a host of advantages for an athlete. One of these positions is a kimura grip, which is when the athlete secures a wrist grip, and threads their other arm around the back of the elbow, securing a grip on their own wrist. Once the athlete has this grip they can simply go straight into a kimura submission, by bringing their leg to the outside, and sliding it high around their opponent's back, as they extend the arm up behind their back. Another way they can use this technique, is after they secure the kimura grip they can use their butterfly hooks to sweep the opponent straight over their head. From here the athlete will keep control of the kimura grip, as they begin to circle their way into the opponent, and seize the back control position. Now they can look to switch into attacking chokes from the back, or they can turn their kimura grip into an arm bar submission.

An easy submission from the butterfly guard comes off the back of the most basic butterfly sweep. The athlete will secure an over hook, and an under hook, with one butterfly hook in on the under hook side. From here they will suck in the over hook, as they begin to elevate their opponent, and punch up with their under hook. The opponent will begin to topple over, as the athlete will disengage their hook. As the opponent is landing on the mats, the athlete will switch their under hook to a grip around the neck, as they trap the other arm with the side of their head. Now the athlete can connect their hands together, preferably in an s grip, and lower their body towards the mat, as they apply pressure to the neck to finish the head and arm triangle choke. This is a strong submission finish, and if the opponent manages to turn onto their side to escape, then the athlete can easily switch to a kimura, or an arm bar finish. 

Another submission system that can be applied is leg locks from the ashi garami position. Commonly when an athlete begins their butterfly sweep sequences, the opponent may often post their leg to prevent the sweep. In this instance the athlete can switch their grip from the over hook to around the posted leg, as they switch the angle of their hips, and slide into an ashi garami position by using their knee to pinch the inside of the posted leg, while threading their other leg underneath and then over the outside of the leg, planting their foot inside the hip. Now the athlete has a good position to attack straight foot locks, inside or outside heel hooks, knee bars, or toe holds. Moving into a leg entanglement from the butterfly position is a high percentage movement, and will result in an immediate scramble from an opponent, so the athlete will need to be controlled, and calculated to finish the leg lock submission. 

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DEFENDING AND PASSING THE BUTTERFLY HOOKS

When dealing with an opponent who is looking to use the butterfly sweep, it is important to know a few details. A common mistake that an opponent will make is falling straight back onto their shoulders to look for the sweep, and this is when an athlete can counter the sweep. Dropping their weight down into their own hips will make an athlete extremely heavy from this position, and now they can begin to force a knee to the mat, and look to knee slice their way through the guard. Another issue that an opponent can have is by giving an athlete an under hook, even though an over hook can be advantageous to the sweeper, it must be a controlled over hook, or the athlete will have too much power with their under hook. This will make it easy to post off the mat, or start to look at ways to control the upper body with pressure. 

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Butterfly sweep in BJJ

The correct technique to a butterfly sweep will see an opponent fall on to their side more, instead of their back. To counter this sweeping maneuver an athlete should be using their hand to post off of their opponent's hip, which will make it hard for the opponent to secure a dominant over hook. The opponent will still have a good opportunity to sweep, but the athlete can utilse quick reflexes, as their opponent falls to their side to execute the sweep. The athlete will begin to feel the elevation from their opponent, and at this moment they can post both of their hands on the mat, as they switch their hips, and place their knee behind the crook of their opponent's knee to execute a folding pass. This will leave the opponent in a vulnerable position, as their leg is trapped, and crossed over their bottom leg. From here it is an easy pass for the athlete, as they use pressure, and climb up into the mount, or the side control position. 

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