Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art and combat sport that emphasizes ground fighting techniques and submissions. One of the fundamental moves in BJJ is the butterfly sweep.

The butterfly sweep is a highly effective technique that allows a practitioner to transition from a compromised position to a dominant one.

Understanding the Butterfly Sweep

The butterfly guard is a position in which a BJJ practitioner utilizes their legs to control their opponent.

The main goal of the butterfly guard is to keep the opponent off balance while creating opportunities for sweeps and submissions. The butterfly sweep, specifically, is a technique used to rapidly transition from the butterfly guard to a top position, such as a mount or back control.

It involves using the legs to elevate the opponent’s hips and create momentum to overturn them.

Executing the Butterfly Sweep

To execute the butterfly sweep, follow these steps:

  • Start from the butterfly guard position, seated on the ground with your legs bent, feet on the floor, and your opponent between your legs.
  • Grab your opponent’s ankles or pant legs to maintain control.
  • Simultaneously drive your legs forward and hook your feet behind your opponent’s legs.
  • Extend your legs while pulling your opponent towards you, using your grip on their ankles or pant legs.
  • At the right moment, release your grip and push your opponent away with your feet to complete the sweep.

Common Variations of the Butterfly Sweep

The butterfly sweep has several variations that offer different options depending on the opponent’s reactions and positioning. Some common variations include:

  • Butterfly Hook Sweep: This variation involves hooking one foot under the opponent’s leg and sweeping them to the side.
  • X-Guard Sweep: In this variation, the practitioner hooks one foot behind the opponent’s knee and controls the other leg, creating an X-shaped configuration.
  • Brazilian Hook Sweep: This variation utilizes the butterfly guard to create leverage by hooking one foot behind the opponent’s knee and sweeping them backward.
  • Bloody Elbow Sweep: This sweep relies on using the elbow to push the opponent off balance while executing the butterfly sweep.

Applications of the Butterfly Sweep

The butterfly sweep is a versatile technique that can be used in various situations during a BJJ match or self-defense scenario. Some of its applications include:

  • Transitioning from a compromised position: If you find yourself in a disadvantaged position, such as your opponent is in side control, the butterfly sweep can help you regain control and transition to a more favorable position.
  • Countering takedowns: When an opponent attempts a takedown, the butterfly sweep can be used to reverse the situation and end up in a dominant position.
  • Creating submission opportunities: The butterfly sweep sets up various opportunities for submissions, such as armbars, chokes, and leg locks, as your opponent tries to defend against being swept.

Effectiveness of the Butterfly Sweep

The butterfly sweep is a highly effective technique due to its versatility and adaptability. It offers numerous benefits:

  • High success rate: When executed with proper timing and technique, the butterfly sweep has a high success rate in competitions and real-life situations.
  • Control and positioning: The butterfly sweep allows the practitioner to establish control over their opponent and transition to a more dominant position, enhancing their chances of winning the match.
  • Opens up submission opportunities: The nature of the butterfly sweep creates openings for submissions as the opponent defends against being swept.
  • Improves guard retention: Incorporating the butterfly sweep into your BJJ game helps improve guard retention skills, making it more difficult for opponents to pass your guard.

Real-Life Examples and Case Studies

Real-life examples and case studies demonstrate the effectiveness of the butterfly sweep in practical scenarios. Consider the following:

Street altercationA BJJ practitioner successfully used the butterfly sweep to reverse a standing attacker and gain control on the ground.
Tournament matchAn experienced competitor executed a butterfly sweep to transition from being pinned in side control to securing the back position and winning the match.

These examples showcase how the butterfly sweep can be effectively applied in real-life situations and high-pressure competitions.


The BJJ butterfly sweep is a versatile, high-percentage technique that every practitioner should master.

By understanding the fundamentals, variations, and applications of the butterfly sweep, you can enhance your ground game and improve your chances of success in both sports and self-defense scenarios.

Remember to practice diligently and experiment with different setups and transitions to make the most of this powerful technique. With proper execution and timing, the butterfly sweep will undoubtedly become a valuable asset in your BJJ arsenal.

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