Next Edge Academy

Butterfly Guard

Position Description

This is a standard position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where both of your shins are in front of your opponent’s thighs. The tops of your feet are underneath them. You are sitting up with your butt back and chest forward.

Why would I end up here?

Butterfly Guard normally happens when you are mounted and you escape. It can also be a defensive guard when your opponent is trying to get around your legs and you are trying to stop them.

What are my techniques from here?

Butterfly Guard Chest Push Pass

Butterfly Guard Hook Sweep

Loop Choke from Butterfly Guard


  • Underhook – is a type of arm control where an attacker wraps their arm underneath a defender’s arm and either reaches around the defender’s back or reaches up to grab their shoulder. In this position, the attacker’s shoulder is usually under the defender’s armpit. 
  • Overhook – A type of arm control where the attacker wraps their arm over and around the defenders arm. The attacker will have the defender’s shoulder in their armpit.
  • Hook – In this case a hook means the instep of your foot underneath their thigh.
  • Pass or Passing – Get around their legs to a position like mount, side, knee on belly or back.
  • Inside Control – Getting your arms and feet inside theirs. This is a newer development. People looking to attack ankle locks, heel hooks and knee bars will often try to get their feet inside yours.

What should I be thinking when someone has me in Butterfly Guard?

  • Look to pass! Watch their posture to see what is in front.
  • Are their feet in front of their head? Try to lift the feet up and pass.
  • Is their head in front of their feet? Pull the head down and pass.

From Top – Tall Pass

  • Don’t allow your opponent to get head control
  • Keep good posture, you should be straight up
  • You should be able to look at the ceiling and the floor
  • Control the head or the feet
  • If you are not controlling the head or feet you are trying to collapse their knees together
  • Get grips on the knees with your knees is also an option

From Top – Low Pass (If you can’t pull up the feet or push down the legs) !!

  • Be chest to chest
  • Trap their heels into their butt
  • You should be trying to get your opponent’s hips flat
  • Grips on the biceps
  • Keep your butt low

What should I be thinking when I have someone in Butterfly?

  • Look to sweep and get on top. Their are many submissions and leg attacks but to start I would like to have you think about either sweeping to get on top. The next best option would be to go to a guard you feel more comfortable with like Closed Guard or Half Guard.
  • Don’t allow your opponent to get head control
  • Break your opponents posture by pulling down on the head or using the underhook to pull them forward
  • Create angles off to the side or a rounded back– This is often called not staying “Flat”  – NEVER on your back flat– Always on your side or a rounded back
  • Head and hip down on the same side
  • **Your head should almost always be on the overhook side (Coaches may differ on this opinion)
  • Strip grips don’t allow grips
  • Don’t allow them to grab the head
  • Create an angle before sweeping, don’t sweep just to the side
  • Try to extend your opponents base
  • Bottom Knee Up slightly so it blocks your opponent’s non-trapped knee
  • Try to extend your opponents base

How do I get “Inside Control”

Getting Inside Concepts

Getting inside Position from Top – Knee Push

Getting Inside Position – Head Pull Knee Push

What else should I know from this position?

Head Positioning

From Top Tall

  • Your head should be up. Forehead looking forward, not looking down. During Starting Position. On some passes, your head will be down with your forehead forward not down. 

From Top Low

  • Head on their chest forehead on the chest. You should be able to look at the ceiling

From Bottom

  • Head positioning is super important from the bottom. You have to keep your head tight to them in an elongated away so they can’t control it. Think head to their chest or head into their neck.

Leg Positioning

From Top

  • Have your toes on the mat
  • Butt down

From Bottom

  • Have your legs inside their thighs
  • Knees on the outside of their ribs
  • Grapevine – One Foot can also go across the leg so they can’t stand. This is also called ¾ Guard        

What are my Grips from this position?

From Top

  • Try to create frames against them on their head, biceps, hips or chest so they can’t come up and so you can pass their legs

From Bottom

Collar and Sleeve Grip – One hand grabs the gi collar or the head the other hand grabs the gi sleeve or wrist.

Overhook Grip – One arm goes over one of their arms

Sleeve and Overhook Grip – One arm goes over one of their arms and your other hand grabs the sleeve

Underhook Grip – One arm goes under your opponent’s armpit

Double Under Grip – Both arm go under your opponent’s arms

2 on 1 Grip – Both arms on one wrist of your opponent

Russian Grip – Similar to the 2 on 1 but both hands are on the same side with the opponent’s arm pinned to your chest

Sleeve and Belt – One hand over the back and on the belt the other on the sleeve

What distance should I be at?

From Top

  • You can play this a few different ways
    • Keep your distance away from your opponent. Don’t allow them to sit up. Try to Pass
    • Be Super tight and control the hips attempting to smash the hips and pass.
    • Pull the head forward to trap their heels to the mat and walk around

From Bottom

  • You want to play super tight, rounded or all the way out. All three work well, just try not to play in the middle. So you should be super tight where it is hard for your opponent to move with their posture broken or so long that they cannot grab your head.
  • If you are rounded your are expected to go underneath your opponent into a leg entanglement instead of sweeping.

Where should my weight be?

From the Top

  • Your weight needs to be on your butt for the most part with your toes on the mat.
  • Do not allow your opponent to pull you forward.
  • Try to be one mass straight – Similar to when you squat in lifting. Back straight and head up.
  • Pinning the legs and weight forward on the chest. IF YOUR WEIGHT GOES FORWARD TO BE ON THE CHEST YOU HAVE TO PIN THE LEGS OR YOU WILL BE SWEPT

From Bottom

  • Your weight will be on the mat but you can manipulate it by getting off to the side.

Ideal Body Type

Works for all body types but usually it’s generally used by shorter legged athletes.

Leverage Points

From Top

  • Sternum (Post on the Sternum)
  • Hips (Post on the Hips)
  • Wrists (Control the Wrist by trapping and posting on it)
  • Biceps

From Bottom

  • Underhooks
  • Overhooks
  • Head (Pull down the head to bring their weight forward and eliminate the ability to pass)

Pro Grappler to Review

Marcelo Garcia