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Artechoke in a Can: Butterfly Guard Principles

Though our focus in this module is the half guard, a significant part of the half guard game I am sharing is the half butterfly guard. To have a powerful half butterfly requires a high level of confidence in your regular butterfly guard because the 50% reduced version requires a very precise technical application of the concepts that make the butterfly guard in general effective.

Therefore, to develop your butterfly guard for use in the half butterfly guard, this lesson is focused entirely on increasing your comfort with the principles that make the butterfly guard work.

For the first technique, we explore a slight variation on the traditional butterfly sweep. In this variation, we control the wrist instead of securing an underhook. In general, I prefer this version to the over/under version because I at no point give my opponent an underhook. Underhooks are bad mmkay?

In this next technique, we start to strip what we traditionally think of as a butterfly sweep down to the bare essentials: taking a post away and off-balancing to create the leverage needed for the butterfly hook to execute a sweep. This particular variation is one that Marcelo Garcia uses quite often, and I learned it from Jeff Rockwell. Admittedly, it’s still a work in progress for me, but in the short time I have been using it, I have found it incredibly effective and look for it all the time.

This last version of the butterfly sweep is more of an attempt to simulate attacking the butterfly sweep in a scramble than it is a specific technique that I would recommend hunting for (since your opponent has the underhook and is starting to work to flatten you out). The goal here is increase your ability to “feel” the opportunity to use the butterfly sweep, which is a big part of the butterfly guard battle.

With butterfly guard sweep principles beginning to set in, we’ll transition into half butterfly guard techniques next week, which is not-so-secretly a path to X-guard.

Artechoke in a Can is the online version of Marshal D. Carper’s weekly no-gi class. Marshal is a purple belt under Sonny Achille at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he is the author of The Cauliflower Chronicles and Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.

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