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The Logic of the Butterfly Guard, with Eli Knight

The Logic of the Butterfly Guard, with Eli Knight



I'm a product of too much schooling.  I spent way too many years in school as a student and, today, I make my way to school every day for work.

As a result of all this schooling, I'm always looking for logical explanations that help me to make sense of things.  

Knowing the theory behind something helps me.  That's why I like Eli Knight's approach to the butterfly guard in the video below.  He doesn't simply demonstrate the guard; he explains the logic behind it and explains why it works.  That way, we don't have to figure all of that stuff out on our own.


Knight explains that the name for this guard comes from the fact that it looks like a butterfly stretch.  He looks at his opponent as a pyramid structure and sees the goal of the butterfly guard as the breaking of that pyramid.

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There are two ways he can break that pyramid structure.  One way would be to topple the pyramid over by pushing or tilting it off balance in some direction, usually to the side or the back.

The other way to break down that pyramid would be to stretch the two base points of the pyramid until the structure collapses.

Knight first uses the butterfly guard to tilt his training partner off balance.  Knight begins with his feet together and positioned to slip between his teammate's legs.  Knight has one foot flat on the mat with the knee up between himself and his partner.  His other leg is bent at the knee but is flat on the mat (2:20).

As his opponent is coming forward to try to pass his guard, Knight keeps his feet together while underhooking his opponent's arm with his right arm.  His left hand can either control his opponent's other wrist or--if he can trap his opponent's wrist with his arm--elbow.  It is also important that Knight's head remain below his opponent's chin.

After sweeping his opponent, Knight explains that the key to this move is to understand that you are moving in two different directions at the same time.  His left shoulder is moving to his left and coming down to the mat.  But, meanwhile, Knight's foot, which has hooked his teammate's leg, is traveling at a right angle to that shoulder, moving in a front-to-back direction over Knight's head.

The beauty of this bi-directional move is that it not only topples the pyramid formed by his opponent's body, but it also widens the base of that pyramid at the same time.  This two-pronged attack is what makes the sweep so effective.

Once Knight has swept his training partner, he doesn't go for mount immediately.  Instead, he slices across his opponent's thigh with his shin, places his head beside his opponent's head on the mat and uses the underhook that he's already established to control his training partner's position.

Next, Knight looks at his options if his training partner is playing a tentative game and is not pushing forward to pass his guard.  Perhaps this player is anticipating a sweep from the butterfly guard and is hanging back.

In this case, Knight is still able to break down his opponent's pyramid structure.  He rocks up onto his left knee and drives his upright right knee at a 45 degree angle between his opponent's right arm and right leg (4:38).

This move is effective because Knight's training partner was leaning back so far.  His backward angle made that wall of the pyramid most vulnerable to attack.

After sweeping his opponent, Knight again effects the thigh slice and reaches for an underhook to control his teammate's body.

Another option when dealing with an opponent who is hanging back is to wait until they begin to make a move and then grabbing their arm for an arm drag.  Knight likes to come down hard on the extended hand, bringing it down and toward him so that he can use his other arm to reach around his opponent's triceps.

This arm drag will pull your opponent into a closer position where the butterfly guard once again becomes a viable way to take a teammate's back.

Of course, this arm drag can also lead to submissions from the butterfly guard.  And Knight next demonstrates a D'Arce choke from arm drag/butterfly guard combo.

This time, Knight begins the drag with his right hand but transitions to his left hand to pull his training partner's arm across and down with his left hand.  Then, Knight slips his freed right arm through the gap between the dragged arm and his partner's torso.

He then slips his right hand across and around his teammate's neck.  As Knight locks his right hand inside the crook of his left elbow, he has the D'Arce choke set up.  

To finish the choke from a more advantageous position, Knight kicks his leg across his opponent and then uses it to push his teammate over as Knight falls onto his right shoulder, making more room to complete the choke.

Knight admits that he could go on and on demonstrating sweeps and attacks from the butterfly guard.  However, it's more important to understand the possibilities so that you can begin to personalize your game with your own attacks and sweeps.

Jiu-Jitsu Based Self Defense Solutions by Eli Knight

Whether you are a Black-Belt, White-Belt, or No Belt Jiu-Jitsu Based Solutions By Eli Knight will give you the tools required to survive a real life altercation where your attacker is trying to inflict serious harm to you. Will you accept less than the best in training, when your life depends on it? If the answer is a resounding NO, than Jiu-Jitsu Based Solutions By Eli Knight is for YOU!



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