Strong sweeps are an mandatory aspect of BJJ. A sweep is a transition from a bottom position to a top position (e.g. from closed guard to mount). Sweeps can take many forms and vary in degrees of difficulty. When starting out in the sport, it is essential to have a few sweeps which can get you out of bad positions. White belts often find themselves on their backs so sweeps are an essential aspect of the early learning. The sweeps below are mostly straightforward techniques. With time, these simple techniques can grow in complexity and your understanding of them will improve too. Essentially, these are sweeps which can be improved and developed over time.
Essential Sweeps for Novices
The butterfly sweep is performed when both grapplers are on the ground facing each other. This is a position which I struggled with when starting out because there was no clear ‘next step’. As a novice, it is much easier to start in a position or on your feet, so this sweep can come in very useful. The technique uses one hook on the inside of the opponents leg. The hook is used to offset your opponent’s balance as you use your upper body momentum to sweep them away from the hook. The sweep is valuable as you are using both your upper and lower body to sweep the opponent. This will come in useful for more advanced techniques. The sweep generally lands you in side control or top half guard.
The lumberjack sweep both effective for you and frustrating for your opponent in equal measure. The sweep occurs when you have your opponent in closed guard. As they attempt to stand up to break your guard, you pull both of their ankles towards you and bump your hips in the opposite direction. This causes your opponent to lose their balance and fall backwards. For new grapplers, the closed guard is the most common position to be in. As a result, you will want an effective sweep to use when you find yourself here. The technique also offers a number of options post-sweep. You can hold your closed guard position, you can carry their momentum forwards and attempt to mount or you can stand up and attempt to pass their guard.
Half Guard Sweep
Just like closed guard, the half guard is a position that many grapplers find themselves in again and again. Although you can attack from bottom half guard, being on the top is always preferred. From the top, you can work your way to mount or the side. The sweep involves transferring your opponents weight from their posts and onto your own body. You start by getting under your opponent and trapping one of their legs. Next, you pass their same side arm to the other side of their body. From here, your hips are holding their entire center of balance. All it takes from this position is to roll them to the same side as their trapped leg. If completed successfully, you will end up in top half guard.