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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

20 October 2011

20/10/2011 - Teaching (Attacking Side Control)

Teaching #024
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/10/2011

My neck was a bit messed up from training on Tuesday (entirely my fault: I was turtled up, then while looking to roll someone over, managed to drive their weight through my neck rather than my legs), plus that wrist was still sore. I was in 'lazy instructor' mode as a result, calling out some of the exercises rather than doing them myself. I normally try to at least do the star jumps etc, but I'm trying to rest those niggling injuries as much as possible. I'm hoping that means I'll be (mostly) good to go for the sparring class on Sunday.

My intention in this lesson was to move on from transitions into attacks. To connect up the two classes, I wanted to show how you can hit submissions off that transition, specifically when going from side control to north south. The first is my highest percentage attack from north-south, a kimura. Starting from side control, you want to control their far arm. This is made easier if they aren't careful, and let you bump their arm up onto your shoulder.

Whether they put it there or you do, the next step is to wrap your arm over theirs, aiming to get just under their elbow to kill mobility in the limb. Ideally, also pull them up by that arm, so they're rolled onto their side. To lock it in place, grab your own collar, or just somewhere on your gi if you can't reach far enough. You'll also want to use you head, clamping your skull against their forearm. Braulio advises following their arm with your head: e.g., if they try to fling it down to the mat or something like that. Don't let them work their arm past your head.

You're also going to move round to north-south, so again you may want to block their legs from running after you by putting a hand on the mat, near their bum (although it should be a bit harder for them to turn if you've locked up that arm). As you move around, you want to jam the knee that begins nearest their hips into their armpit, sliding your lower leg under their arm as you move around. That makes it harder for them to escape. If you can't manage that, slide your knee over their free arm once you've got to north south. It is useful to maintain some kind of control on that free arm, as otherwise they can use it to try and create some space to escape.

You essentially end up sitting on their head, so in drilling, be aware that you don't want to crush your partner. You can take a bit of the weight off by transferring it to your knees: obviously in competition, that's less of a concern. As you sit up, make sure their elbow is glued to your chest.

The next important step is to establish a figure four on their trapped arm, which can be easier said than done. One simple method Kev showed me is to put your free hand in place, ready to grab their wrist. Next, turn your head away from their arm: this will push your shoulder forwards, which will then also knock their arm forwards, putting the wrist right into your waiting hand. It's then simple to complete the figure four grip.

To finish the kimura, simply turn back in the other direction, pushing their wrist towards the side their elbow is pointing . Alternatively, you can also bring the elbow of your non-clamping arm to their trapped arm side. Turn your body so you're facing their head, then apply the kimura from that lower position.

If you make a mistake while looking to apply the kimura from that upright position, or they simply defend well, you might find that they are able to grab their own belt or gi. This will make it tough to complete the submission. You can try pulling in the direction their knuckles are pointing, or Roy Dean's option of using rhythm to break that grip. Push their arm towards them twice, as if you are really trying to break their grip, then yank hard in the other direction (aiming for the direction in which their fingers are weakest).

Should none of that work, you can instead switch to an armbar. Bring your knee up on their trapped arm side. This will enable you to put your whole body into it when you turn towards their other side, which should break their grip. Make sure you keep that figure four grip, as it is about to prove useful. If possible, you also want to try and slip your foot into the armpit of their free arm, which should help prevent their escape attempt.

Pinch your knees together to control their arm, in what is sometimes called a 'Japanese armbar' position (I'm not sure why: something from Japan, I guess? Or maybe Pancrase? Leave a comment if you know). You don't have both your legs over their body, which means that the hitchhiker escape is a possibility. It's called that because they lead with their thumb pointing the way out, turning their body and walking around.

However, because you have that figure-four grip, they can't use it anymore. If they try to turn away, you can just apply the kimura. In order to relieve the pressure, they'll have to turn back. You can then drop to the mat, switching your grip to finish the armbar as normal.

There was still plenty of time left after that, so I asked if they wanted to learn another technique or go to sparring. The students opted for the latter. That bonus technique is still up my sleeve if I need it next time. :)


  1. Timely-tastic! I'm thinking of using this for one of my submissions from side control for my belt test and needed info on the details. Thanks!

  2. Awesome, always glad to be of help. :)

    I'm fond of the kimura from north-south, as it is one of those where it feels like you can take your time and settle into a solid position, rather than having to rush and catch it off a mad scramble.

    Anything that lets me slow the game down ranks high on my personal favourites.