Tips For Passing Butterfly Guard – BJJ Fanatics

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Remember back in the beginning days when guard was simple?  When we first started training and coach said get in his guard, we knew it meant closed guard because that was the only guard we knew at the time.  As we started to advance along our Jiu Jitsu journey, we started learning open guard, and man was that fun, am I right? It was like opening a whole new world when we just started to understand what the fundamentals are and could stumble our way through the techniques for the most part.  And now here we are with butterfly guard, donkey guard, rubber guard, all of the guards, if you can imagine it, it probably exists…. Ok, maybe not, but you get the idea.

It could be argued that there is nothing more important in Jiu Jitsu than knowing how to get out.  How to get out of someone’s guard. How to escape mount. How to get out of an armbar attack, or the threat of a choke, or any other submission.

One of the first things we learn as a white belt is how to pass the closed guard, either going over the legs with a knee slice pass or going under the legs with a stack pass.  There is obviously a huge importance to knowing how to pass the guard, but if there are so many different types of guards, it stands to reason that we need to know multiple types of guard passes so we can respond appropriately to the whatever guard our opponent throws at us.

Taking a look at Butterfly Guard Passing by Travis Stevens there are some important details that you must know to be successful at passing the butterfly guard.

Let’s break this out in a few concepts to help with passing the butterfly guard, which will quickly lead to passing the half guard.  

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The first concept discussed is an imperative detail.  Your butt and heels do not get separated. The moment they do, it will off balance you enough to be pulled forward and ultimately swept.  Posturing properly and walking your knees back will force the attacker to straighten their legs more, which in turn will make them less strong and less capable of pulling your weight onto them for a sweep.  

The next concept we are going to look at is what to do with your elbows.  You want your elbows tight to your body and on the inside track so you can get your frames on his hips.  Should your opponent manage to get the inside track, you can bring your hand to your face, palm facing out and then bring it over the opponent’s arm and back down to frame on their hips.  Framing on the hips will allow you to bring one of your knees to the inside of the opponent’s legs putting you in a now half guard position.

There are tons of ways to pass the half guard, and everyone has their own preferred style, but we are going to look at Travis Stevens preferred method, and his words, the way he likes to pass the half guard is “Quickly”.

The first step in Sevens pass is to pin the leg that is between his legs to the mat.  He does this by bringing his right arm over and gripping the opponent’s left foot. He uses the phrase, pushing it down as if I were doing a pushup.  His grip is thumb on top of the foot with four fingers under the foot, right in the arch of the foot. “Make sure you lean on it with everything you have”.

The second step is to push the knee to the mat using your free hand.  In order to do this, you will need to sprawl slightly backward to get out of the way and create space to drive the opponent’s legs to the mat.  This is done by gripping inside the knee and driving it to the mat, while maintaining your grip on the opponent’s foot so they are not able to regain guard.

The opponent is faced with a choice at this point, what do they do to slow you down, or attempt to stop you from passing their guard.  Not always, but a lot of times what will happen is they will bring the free leg in as a reinforcement, brining the free foot over the trapped leg just below the knee.  The back of the opponent’s foot is now pressing against our hand that was being used to pin the knee to the mat.

This is exactly what we want to happen.  Although initially it may feel to the opponent that they have blocked us from continuing the pass, that couldn’t be less accurate.  When they bring the free foot over for backup, we simply sprawl on top of the second leg, that is now on top of the one we had initially pinned to the mat.  As we sprawl, our weight should be landing on top of the opponent’s legs, with our chest above the opponent’s mid thigh. At this point we can get grips, continue the downward pressure and start to climb up the opponent’s body to improve our position.  

There are a lot of fancy dismounts to get to another position, but at this point the decision is yours.  As you climb up the body you could use a cross face to flatten the opponent out, or you could move to a modified mount position and work to take the back or attack from here.  There are a ton of options depending on what you want to do. Remember, if you are competing, you will need to establish the position and hold the position for a given period of time, typically three or four seconds in order to get your points.  

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