Counter the Butterfly Guard

Counter the Butterfly Guard

The butterfly guard is often one of the first forays into the world of open guard play that BJJ practitioners attempt to institute into their game plans.  By keeping both feet tucked somewhat safely between the thighs of the opponent and keeping the knees spread, you can create a powerful wedge that prevents your opponent from being able to advance their hips. 

The pressure from the shins and thighs inside of the opponent's thighs, coupled with the hooking action of the feet can keep them guessing.  When you throw in a strong upper body control, which might come in the form of double under hooks, a double overhook, or a combination that includes an overhook with one arm and perhaps some sleeve control, you have a very powerful bottom guard position that can make the opponent very vulnerable to sweeps to either side.

The classic butterfly sweep simply involves controlling the hips of the opponent and scooping underneath to put your hips directly underneath of the opponent's hips.  In this position on your back with your butterfly hooks in, you will be amazed at how light even the heaviest opponent can feel.  With your hips underneath of their hips and your head underneath their head, you are now in prime position to reverse them. 

Most simply you will extend one side of your hips allow them to begin to fall downward.  This couple with a slight roll onto your shoulder mixed with the extension of your remaining and supporting butterfly hook will ensure that they go completely over.  By maintaining a strong connection to your opponents upper body, you will naturally follow their momentum and come to a position of side control or in the best case, right to the mount position to begin attacking.

In the video below, MMA and Grappling Coach Fabiano Scherner, who most notably coaches the likes of the "American Gangster" Chael Sonnen and also fellow UFC veteran Paige Van Zant, shows an ultra simple counter to the controlling nature of the butterfly guard and the attempted butterfly sweep.

In very simple terms, all Fabiano is doing is pinching his knees and thighs together which helps decrease the power and control that the hooks, shins and thighs have on his lower body.  Once the sweep is attempted and the opponent begins to go to the side, he/she will find that they are unable to extend their bottom leg that allows them to effectively create the trap door feeling, that builds the momentum for them to follow us up and take mount or side control.  To further control his descent, Fabiano also utilizes a powerful whizzer where he swims his arm underneath the underhook that is attempting to control his upper body.  

Now that he has both the power of the legs and hips nullified and the upper body control diminished, he is able to safely land on his side and pass the guard easily, thus thwarting the opponent's attempt to sweep him.  This is an extremely simple, yet effective means to lessen the ability of your opponent to be able to catch you in this relatively high percentage sweep.

Sometimes the simplest techniques are the best, because they are the easiest to remember and to put into practice when the time comes.  If you have found yourself quickly snatched up and seemingly floating until being dumped over to your side by the butterfly sweep, this counter to the sweep will change the game and have the opponent scrambling to prevent your inevitable guard pass moments after thinking they were about to score.

Check out Fabiano Scherner's latest release from BJJ Fanatics, "Mastering Brazilian Jiu Jitsu After 40:  Top Game" available here in both DVD and On Demand formats!  You will get all of the secrets of one of the most successful older grapplers in BJJ history, who also happens to be the grappling coach for UFC and Bellator veterans like Chael Sonnen and Paige VanZant.

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