How Sweeps Work

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There are tons of different sweeps in BJJ…

​… but whichever sweep you’re trying to execute, you need to control the same three things.

​That makes working on sweeps a lot easier.

​I learned this concept from an old instructional video by Nic Gregoriades and Kit Dale, called Beyond Technique.

​Let’s say you’re playing the butterfly guard, and you want to sweep your opponent to your left side.

So, here are the three things you need to control when you sweep your opponent:

  1. Your opponent’s posture
  2. Your opponent’s ability to post
  3. Your position

Let me explain each of them quickly.

​1. Your opponent’s posture

If your opponent’s posture is good, they will be more likely to maintain their position well because they can keep working on their moves without worrying about losing their balance or your sweep attempts.

​By breaking your opponent’s posture, you can make their life a bit more difficult. In the butterfly guard’s case, you could get the under hook control and use your head to limit your opponent’s upper body movements. Or you could take more of a direct path by collar tying your opponent’s head with your right hand.

​Your opponent will have to address their broken/compromised posture if they want to prevent you from sweeping them or want to pass your guard.

​2. Your opponent’s ability to post

If you try to sweep without controlling your opponent’s ability to post, they can use their hand to stop your sweep. That’s not what you want to happen. So, in this case, you must control your opponent’s right arm because you want to sweep them to your left side. Probably controlling their elbow would be the best option, but even controlling the wrist might be OK as long as you make it difficult for them to post by using their right hand.

​3. Your position

Yes, I know this sounds pretty broad. Let me explain a bit more. You need to adjust your position so that you can use your body in the most efficient way possible to sweep your opponent.

​If the sweep in question is the kind of sweeps where you lift your opponent in any way, the best position for you may be to bring your legs/body beneath your opponent’s body so you can load their weight onto you in a controlled manner.

​Or if it’s a sweep like the scissor sweep or the flower sweep, you might need to get to a certain angle where your body can perform the sweeping motion in the most efficient way possible.

​There can be exceptions, but these three points of control apply to most of the sweeps out there.

​If you’re working on some sweeps and wondering why they aren’t working well, check if you’re controlling these three things properly.