1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Whizzer butterfly guard

    Playing butterfly and half guard with an overhook was a game that confused me until recently. It runs against everything you're taught about the importance of getting underhooks in order to prevent them from flattening them out. Yet I know guys like Jean Jacques and Mike Fowler are famous for triangles and omplatas from these positions.

    I didn't get how this was possible until I trained with a Gracie Barra black belt named David Vieira. He just opened a new school in my area and has visited my school a couple times to train. He took me and Trog aside one night and showed us the whizzer butterfly to triangle he used to win several matches in the Mundials. It was from this and watching his spar and observing him play his game that I picked up how to do it.

    The first part to understanding this game is knowing the grips.

    As they try to underhook my left arm, I overhook their right arm and whizzer my arm through so my hand is reaching across their chest. I grab their opposite collar as soon as I can. I will feed the collar deeper with my right hand until my left hand is as deep and tight around their neck as possible.

    I've seen Jean Jacques do several moves where he holds the same side collar, and I know that Robson Moura plays this game that way, but I would rather get the opposite collar since it gives me chokes. I will hold the same side collar if that's all I can get and use it until I can get the right position to reach all the way across. For example, when they're flattening me out in half guard and I can't yet reach very deeply.

    An important detail on this grip is that I keep my left shoulder tight to his shoulder. This makes it more difficult for him to pull his overhooked arm out.

    You can play this position pretty much like a normal butterfly guard if you want, going for hooks sweeps to either side. Jean Jacques shows a lot of sweeps from an overhook butterfly guard like this in his books. I trained with a brown belt who did the usual sweeps from butterfly using this grip.

    But I don't really play it like that though, and for the most part, neither does David, whose game I like more. You'll see what I do instead below.

    In the above picture, you can see how I sit out to one side. This is a key to not being flattened out. Even if he drives me to my back (so I'm not sitting up into him), I'll still be turned on my side with my hips free.

    Even if he pushes me back, I'm still on my side and my hips are free. This actually plays right into my game from here, so I'll purposely pull them down to this position. I'd rather have them down like this than trying to back away and free their arm.

    Another detail about how I'm staying aggressive from this position and not getting flattened out is to stay on my right shoulder, not on my back. I also turn my left shoulder down like I want to bring it to the mat. This presses their shoulder down and makes it harder for them to drive straight into my chest.

    The next important aspect of this game is how I use my hooks, knees and feet. As I said above, I don't play this like a normal butterfly guard, where I'd be sitting up with my hooks under his thighs.

    In this picture, I've opened up the space so you can clearly see my legs.

    I took out my left hook and now have my foot stepping on his hip. This helps me create space, prevents him from smashing me, and moves my hips out so I can stay on my side.

    My right foot comes up and steps on his knee to break his base. This foot can also step on their hip to block them from passing or take a half guard position.

    From the side, you can see that as I play the position, I step on their hip with my toes and bring my knee high, using it to press down on their back and shoulder. This is useful for several reasons later, but for now you should know that it prevents them from jumping over my hook on that side.

    My instructor was going over this overhooking butterfly with me on Thursday and he said the main problem with it is how the guy can jump over your butterfly hook on the side of the overhooked arm to pass guard. I showed him how instead of just butterfly hooking their thigh, I step on the hip and bring my knee slightly behind the back, which makes it much harder for them to jump to that side. He thought it was a good solution to that problem.

    From this angle, you can also more clearly see something about this position that I find interesting. It's not quite normal butterfly guard, half guard or even half butterfly, and it's not closed guard. But you can get to it from any of those guards, and it's pretty easy to return to any of those guards from it. To me, it's guard that's between all of those ones and helps unite all of them.

    Lately, I've been getting my biggest improvements from learning these "in between" positions, since they fill the gaps between the standard positions.

    Note how I'm so far out to the side that I have been able to bring my knee up on his shoulder. In addition to controlling the space and defending the pass like I said above, I'm now using it to get a straight elbow lock (hiza gatame) on the trapped arm.

    I keep escaping my hips and sliding down his arm until I feel his elbow under my elbow and his wrist in my armpit. I pinch my elbow in on his like I want to bring mine into my chest. I drive his shoulder down with my left knee. I twist my upper body to pressure down on the arm and help drive his shoulder down.

    To prevent him from posturing, I'll kick out his far knee with my left foot. When I really go for the finish, I'll bring my bottom knee up against his shoulder too and pinch it with my knees.

    You'll need to experiment with this armlock some since it takes some practice and feedback from your training partner to get a feel for how to do it effectively to get a tap.

    You can see Koji Komuro demonstrate the submission here:


    In addition to the straight elbow lock, I have a collar choke. I grab his collar with four fingers in and punch into his neck while pulling down on his other collar (with my overhooking arm).

    This first choke helps me create space to prevent him from driving into me and can be used to get the correct positioning for the armlock. I can also pull on the collar to break his posture if he tries to pull out.

    You can do the choke more like a cross collar choke by grabbing the wrinkled fabric on the shoulder (palm down), but I like doing it with my fist in the throat since it hurts more and can controls the space and posture better. I picked this up from Koji's instructional and watching his matches.

    You can see Koji set this choke up from the top of half guard and finish it from the bottom here:


    And off the sprawl:


    Depending on how I enter this position (e.g. from closed guard vs half guard), I'll either start with the collar choke then use it to get the armlock, or go for the armlock and add the collar choke. Ideally, I get both going at the same time so I can use them together.

    If I had to pick though, I'd say to go for the armlock more since it puts you in a better position, setups up alternate submissions and you can be done if you play this game no-gi.

    Often while fighting to defend the armlock and choke, they'll make themselves vulnerable to you climbing your leg to a triangle position too.

    You can go for the triangle much earlier without the collar choke and armlock, which is how David taught me, but I found that if I went for it first, I was more likely to have them counter by driving a knee though and passing my guard. Once I started going for the armlock and choke first, the triangle became safer.

    If you're not content to have an armlock, choke and triangle all at once, you'll happy to know that you can also throw your leg over for an omoplata.

    Again, you don't need the other submissions first, but I found that going for the omoplata alone didn't work well. The time to get it is when they're in the armlock and try to escape the submission by driving their arm deeper (to take the pressure off their elbow) and bend it so their hand point down towards your hip.

    But really, I wouldn't go for the omoplata if I had the other submissions I can do without switching to another position. It's just nice to know it's there.

    If they bend their arm up towards your head, you can go for an americana-like submission like Mir got on whatshisname.

    Watching David, I constantly see him with the whizzer grip, escaping his hips out as he goes for the armlock, working for the collar choke and climbing to the triangle, attacking all three at once. His opponent will be trying to give him the omoplata or let him sweep them just to escape, but he'll roll around without letting go of anything. It was seeing this that inspired me to train this position more and helped me understand how it can be played.

    I've also seen him use this grip for hook sweeps and even swinging over to an armbar on the trapped arm, so that more to this game to explore too.

    You can get an idea of how I get to this position from half guard through half butterfly by looking at steps 1-10 here:


    If you ignore the special London grip and pretend I'm using the whizzer grip, you can see how I'd get to this from closed guard and take the triangle:


    I trust you can figure out how these different moves fit together.

    In summary:
    • Overhook and get a whizzer.
    • Grab the far collar.
    • Get your hips out and stay on your side.
    • Get higher on their torso and step on their hips and knees.
    • Attack the trapped arm, attack the neck, climb for triangles, watch for omoplatas.
    One last comment on this game. Since I've started playing with it, I've found that my underhooking guards have gotten better too. How can this be? Because now I'm no longer afraid of them getting an underhook, while my opponent may actually give up his underhook to escape, giving me underhooks and even armdrags.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Melbourne, Australia
    Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
    Renato Magno, one of the Machado black belts is also quite famous for this guard.

  3. #3
    I am a Ninja bitches!! Deal with it Join us... or die
    Goju - Joe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Improv comedy

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Reading UK
    Sub Westling, MMA
    How would you modify this for no gi?

  5. #5
    PointyShinyBurn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    London, UK
    Quote Originally Posted by DDale
    How would you modify this for no gi?
    Use a tighter overhook to compensate for the lack of grip, and scrap the collar choke.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    MT, Submission Grappling
    I used this in class tonight, pretty classic setup. Fought for underhooks for the butterfly sweep and the guy pummelled into me without moving in fast enough to pin my legs and I got the position. From here, I moved to a straight armbar immediately and he rolled his arm down, setting himself up for the omo-plata.

    Here's where things get interesting. I threw my leg over for the omo-plata, but I guess I left too much space or didn't whizzer down his arm hard enough (I'm not a particularly strong guy) and my opponent managed to shove his arm in and kinda roll his hand back and snake it around and get his hand back inside my hip (I guess the combination of him being limber and my being sucky). Anyway, it turns out if this happens to you, it isn't a problem. Just shoot your legs up and triangle them over his shoulder, let go of his collar and hook his arm and you have a bicep crush (what I did). We played with it a little more after class and figure out if you can't get the guy to tap from the bicep crush, you can scoot your hips out a touch and go to the belly-down armbar.

    Pretty swanky guard. I'm gonna start playing it more.

  7. #7
    WARNING: BJJ may cause airway obstruction. Join us... or die
    EternalRage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Long Island
    Bajillion Joo Jizzu
    To prevent him from posturing, I'll kick out his far knee with my left foot. When I really go for the finish, I'll bring my bottom knee up against his shoulder too and pinch it with my knees.
    Your left foot? Wouldn't it be your right? So you take your left foot off his right hip and place it on his left knee and kick out?



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