Simple Butterfly Guard Passing Fundamentals from Travis Stevens

Simple Butterfly Guard Passing Fundamentals from Travis Stevens

The butterfly guard is an extremely effective version of open guard that utilizes the legs and hooks made by the feet to prevent guard passing, initiate sweeps, and to set up different attacks.  The proximity with which you are able to bring your opponent greatly amplifies the ability to bring your hips underneath of their hips which makes it extremely easy to move them around, while making it nearly impossible for them to keep a heavy base and foundation.

This makes the butterfly guard one of the most frustrating guards to pass because of how easy it is for the person on bottom to threaten sweeps and keep you off balance.  Travis Stevens, Judo Olympian and BJJ black belt shares in the video below, some fundamentals and concepts to how he attacks the problem of passing the good butterfly guard player's legs.  Check it out below and we'll break it down afterwards. 

 Stay Heavy

When working to pass any type of guard, it's important to capitalize on pressure and stay as heavy as possible to prevent oneself from being reversed and to keep the guard player where you need them to remain.  For Travis Stevens, staying heavy comes in a variety of forms when it comes to attacking the butterfly guard player.

The goal of the butterfly guard player is to use their butterfly hooks to stay connected to their opponent and use the leverage inherent in their legs and the connection of the hooks to move their opponent from side to side, ideally to sweep them, but at the very minimum to take them off of their base to be able to advance to another position.

The first goal the person trying to pass the butterfly guard should have is to not be taken off of their base, in simplest terms to keep their butts close to their heels. By keeping a heavy base in the hips and with proper posture, you can make it virtually impossible for the opponent to create openings which will work to make your lighter and easier to move. This prevents the butterfly guard player from making them slight and moving them side to side or possibly setting up some sort of sweep.

The second way that Travis works to remain heavy is when he initially sets up his pass and addresses one of the butterfly hooks.  This helps to set up the second principle of bringing their legs together that we'll talk about shortly.  In this case, he uses his hand to control the mid-sole of the hook/foot and like he was doing a push up, he staples that hook to the ground and with his other hand he grips the opponent's knee keeping him locked in that position and making the pass around the leg easy.

Work to Bring Their Legs Together 

Much of the reaction that your opponent will give in return once you have their hook and shin stapled to the ground will come in a variation of bringing their knees and their legs together.  Whether they bring their free leg over to aid the leg that is stapled down or not, your goal should be to find away to bring their legs together.

Travis shares a number of ways to do this with a variety of pants grips, with a leg weave or simply by smashing the top thigh down when it gets extended.  The easiest and most efficient passes are when the opponent's own reactions, "dig their graves" as Travis is found of saying.

To get more of Travis Stevens, check out his many BJJ and Judo instructrional DVDs and On Demand resources available on BJJ Fanatics.  Fundamentals and Concepts is Travis' most recent offering and can be secured by going straight over to BJJ Fanatics and taking advantage of our easy to use shopping experience.

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