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Artechoke in a Can: Butterfly Half Guard

To make our half guard dynamic and effective, we’ve spent the majority of this module developing the foundation for a butterfly half guard, which meant sharpening our half guard basics so that we knew when and when not to use a butterfly half while also honing our butterfly guard principles so that we would feel confident in using a butterfly half.

All of those lessons converged on this one, where we start to use the butterfly half to counter our opponent’s dominant position and uncomfortable pressure.

In no gi, the primary function of a butterfly half is to create space. You can potentially sweep from there and use the butterfly half as a bridge to X-guard, but those goals are secondary to relieving the pressure and control of an underhook and a shoulder-chin cross face. This is why our first technique emphasizes using the butterfly half to transition to a butt scoot position. This will sometimes turn into a scramble, which is why we also look at hitting the sweep when they dive back in to flatten you out.

In the next technique, we transition from the butterfly half directly into a sweep. As you’ll see in this video, my partner’s instinct is to post his hand out (the one that was previously controlling my head) to maintain his base. This will often kill the sweep, but it sets up my transition to the X-guard which we look at later. For this sweep to work, your opponent must maintain control of your head, and you will probably need to check his far leg with your hand or foot to collapse his hips. My preferred method is to check with my hand, but oftentimes your opponent will dictate what is best to use.

An important side note here: finishing this sweep will sometimes require a few extra bumps of your butterfly sweeps, which is why it’s essential for you to develop the habit of anchoring your sweep with a posted foot. If you dig your toes into the mat, you can “chase” your opponent with the sweep by using that posted foot to hop toward his hips.

And finally, we use the half guard to set up the X-guard. This transition is a huge part of my game, and I use it constantly. Because my opponent’s natural instinct is to post to defend the sweep, using the butterfly hook from half guard is a great way of tricking my opponent into exposing himself to an X-guard entry. Pay careful attention to my positioning details, as those details will be essential to making your X-guard sweeps powerful and reliable. We touch on a basic sweep here, but next week we will look at attacking form the X-guard in greater depth.

Next week, we will wrap up the half guard module with an explanation of the X-guard, exploring three of my favorite options from the position and the strategy for choosing between those three.

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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