BJJ Basics: How To Attack From The Butterfly Guard

By May 11, 2014November 9th, 2021No Comments
rolling in a bjj group class

A highly offensive Guard position in BJJ is the Butterfly Guard.  The Butterfly Guard allows you to quickly attack your opponent with sweeps and transitions.  The Butterfly Guard will also allow you to defeat a much larger and stronger opponent.

Today, we’ll look at how to maintain the Butterfly Guard and how to attack from this unique position.

In some BJJ circles, the Butterfly Guard is sometimes called Seated Guard because you are sitting up right as you try to launch your attacks.

Many people attempt to be offensive with their Butterfly Guard once they are on their backs.  This is a very dangerous mistake.

Unless you quickly transition to Half Guard or X Guard, you will probably get your Guard passed quickly.

It is much easier for your training partner to pass your Butterfly Guard once your shoulder blades are down on the mat.

Remember, the Butterfly Guard is only offensive if you are sitting up.  Shoulder blades off the ground.  Sitting up like you are sitting at the beach.

It is extremely difficult to initiate a Sweep or a Submission from the Butterfly Guard once your shoulder blades are down on the mat.

Often, when BJJ practitioners play the Butterfly Guard, they’ll keep their feet on the mat and think that their knees and shins will keep them safe from the Guard Pass.

This is foolhardy and most people will find themselves in bottom cross side very quickly.

The correct way to use your feet is to have them glued to your training partner’s legs.

At least one foot is touching your training partner’s legs at all times.  This does take awareness, sensitivity and practice, but it will make your Guard much more difficult to pass.

From the Butterfly Guard, the most immediate attack from this position is to sweep your opponent.

When attempting this sweep, many people will keep both feet glued to the inside of their training partner’s legs.

Although this is a good tactic initially, one foot needs to be placed on the mat to help apply leverage for the sweep as the other foot lifts your training partner up for the sweep.

The foot that is placed on the mat has to be in a very specific spot: just outside of your training partner’s knee.

The moment you go for the sweep, if you have both your feet in between your training partner’s legs, you need to bring your right foot underneath your left knee so that it will rest against the outside of your training partner’s right knee.

Many people see the Butterfly Guard Sweep as a sweep done with one leg.

They’ll keep one leg on the mat and the other leg elevates their opponent; but, if their opponent has good balance and tries to defend the sweep, then the sweep is quickly nullified.

What you need to do is think of the Butterfly Guard Sweep as a 2 legged sweep – one leg elevates your training partner and the second leg drives aggressively into the mat.  Doing the sweep this way is far more effective.

One of the distinct advantages with the Butterfly Guard is the fact that you can easily manage distance and space from this position.  When ever you have distance and space between yourself and your opponent in BJJ, you can transition to other positions.

From the Butterfly Guard, you can use an Arm Drag to up grade your position and go for a back take.

In the starting position for the Arm Drag from the Butterfly Guard, both your feet are in between your training partner’s knees.

As they start to execute the Arm Drag, many people will remember to bring their foot to the outside of their training partner’s knee, but often the foot is too close to the knee.

The problem with this is if your training partner resists the Arm Drag and tries to drive forward in defense (a typical response) then you’ll wind up on your back and fighting from Half Guard.  Although this is not a horrible position (you still can be very offensive), it is not the strong top position or the strong back position you were originally striving for.

As well, with your foot too close to his knee, it is very difficult to reach your training partners far arm to ensure the back position.

The key is to bring your foot out far away from your training partner.  With your foot far back, you can drive up and foreword and attain the back position much easier.

Furthermore, if you training partner defends the Arm Drag, with your foot out, you’ll be able to drive into him for a sweep and take a top position.

Thanks for tuning in Everybody!  I hope you enjoyed with breakdown of the Butterfly Guard and I hope it helps you with your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Game 🙂

Ritchie Yip

Ritchie Yip

Ritchie Yip is the Head Instructor for InFighting Training Centers located in Downtown Vancouver and Brentwood Burnaby. InFighting Training Centers offers programs in Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bootcamp Conditioning Classes and Personal Training