In today’s day and age where people are chasing the next big thing, or looking for a short cut simplicity can be overlooked. In Jiu-Jitsu the more complex a technique at the beginner levels the more likely you are going to struggle to pull it off in live training. Butterfly guard is a position that is re-emerging thanks to people like Adam Wardzinski.
Wardzinski is one of the top Jiu-Jitsu athletes from Europe. He is easily one of the most prolific butterfly guard users. In the past we’ve heard some people down talking the butterfly guard. Chances are you were committing one of the 5 most common mistakes from the position. Like any position or strategy there are certain criteria that needs to be met for it to be successful.
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Wardzinski covers the 5 most common Butterfly Guard mistakes
Don’t Go Flat To Your Back
First and definitely one of the most common mistakes is going flat to your back to execute a sweep. This is the quickest way for your guard to be passed. By going to your back you lose the leverage of the position.
It will also allow for the passer to enter into a Gordon Ryan style passing strategy where hands are on the floor above your head and their lower body can out pummel your own. This makes the floating knee pass all too easy for the passer. The goal of the passer here will likely to flatten you out. As you see in the video Adam is able to go to his side as his opponent pushes in.
Even while getting smashed if you are on your side opportunities will arise. If you watch Adam’s matches you will see how getting smashed doesn’t stop his butterfly guard. He uses angular shifts while on his side to scoot out from his partners weight. As the partner adjusts he can utilize the angle he has created to finish the sweep.
- Lack Of Arm Control
Establishing a good grip on your opponent’s posting arm can be the one of the trickiest parts to sweeping from butterfly guard. As adam points out the ideal grip is behind your opponent’s elbow. Once this grip is obtained Adam immediately sucks it into his side as he goes for the sweep. This grip causes your partner to start to fold, and turn the direction needed to finish the sweep.
Regardless of grip the manipulation of the opponent’s upper body should be accomplished. The twisting motion that Adam generates before each sweep in this segment of the video causes his partner to roll their shoulder inward to their center line. This will make the sweep much more manageable. As you can see when the partner is able to post his hand to the mat he is immediately able to elevate away from Adam’s hooks.
- Not Using The Bottom Leg
One aspect of butterfly guard that is always overlooked is the job of the bottom leg. Elevation is one of the passer’s main strategies to pass the butterfly guard. By “activating” the bottom leg Adam is able to raise his hips along with his partner. This makes the floating knee pass very difficult.
By keeping his hips matched with his partners Adam is able to keep his top leg engaged. Old school butterfly videos will have the top leg do sort of a kick out to finish the sweep. This is where a major evolution has occurred with butterfly guard. Anymore, if a person is going to their back and extending their legs for the sweep there is a good chance that person is a time traveler from the 90’s here to test current day Jiu-Jitsu.
The bottom leg serves as a reset for Adam’s base. At the 5:15 mark of the video you will see his partner utilize a tripod like position to try and stop the sweep. This is where the bottom leg shines because it is used to shift his base back underneath of his partner. The problem for the passer is that he cannot reset his base, which allows for the sweep to be completed.
- Closed Hips, Closed Knee
By not maintaining strong positional maintenance in the butterfly guard it is easy to get smashed. It is essential to the success of the position to keep your hips open as well as your knees. By maintaining this rigidity throughout the sweeping process it will make it difficult for your partner to float his knee through your legs.
This is one of the reasons butterfly guard works well for beginners. It is fairly easy to diagnose where your guard is failing because there aren’t too many moving parts. If you go for a sweep and the passer is able to float his knees through there is a good chance you weren’t able to keep your knees open.
- Wrong Head Positioning
Having a strong head position will help with not getting flattened out. By dictating the space with your head you force your opponent into a singular direction for their pass. Adam is able to use his right arm as a base when his opponent pushes in. At the 8:13 mark notice the wedge that is created with Adam’s body position. His hand is far enough away that he is able to maintain the butterfly guard.
Forcing an opponent into limited passing options will help Adam address these 5 components listed above. His head positioning will make his opponent start to circle around the butterfly guard. This is perfect because Adam can now establish the grip on the posting arm he needs. Since the circling of the passer surely changed the dynamics of the base Adam’s bottom leg is able to activate and reset his base during or before the sweep. All while going to his side to execute the sweep. All 5 mistakes are addressed!
Adam Wardzinski has proven that you can take basic games and make them work at all levels, even the elite! Butterfly guard is a game that people of all shapes and sizes can find success. If you like the above video from Adam’s YouTube, you will surely like Butterfly Guard Re-Discovered by Adam Wardzinski.