Unlocking the Secrets of the Butterfly Guard

BJJ athlete demonstrating butterfly guard position

The butterfly guard remains one of the most dynamic open guards in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. By controlling your opponent’s hips and upper body, you can seamlessly transition between sweeps, submissions, and other open guards.

However, many white and blue belts struggle to utilize the butterfly guard effectively. Without an understanding of the foundational grips, hip positioning, and associated techniques, it remains an enigma. 

In this article, we’ll break down the keys to successfully implementing the butterfly guard in your game:

Establish the Hooks

The butterfly hook provides the base control. Place both feet on your opponent’s inner thighs just above the knees. Keep your heels glued to your hips and toes pointed inward. 

Maintain constant tension on the hooks to feel your opponent’s movement. This also helps break their posture.

Control the Sleeves 

Grip both sleeves tightly at the triceps or wrists. Fight for deep, cross-collar sleeve grips if possible. This gives you the leverage to keep your opponent off balance.

Use the sleeves to pull your opponent down and into your hooks. Strip grips if needed to prevent getting passed.

Hip Positioning is Key

Your hips should lift up and forward into your opponent’s centerline. This lets you wedge your knees inside to wedge open their legs.

Keep feet anchored while driving hips in and up. Avoid having your hips sag backward or go flat.  

Master the Entries 

Drill sweeping from closed guard to butterfly and back again until it becomes second nature. 

Also practice solo butterfly guard entries from standing and open guard situations to build muscle memory.

Attack and Sweep 

Once you have solid grips and hip positioning, you can go on the offensive:
  • Arm drags to the back
  • Kimura shoulder lock
  • Omoplata 
  • Butterfly sweep
  • X-Guard entries

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