| bjj resources

 BJJ FAQ  Academy

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 April 2012

20/04/2012 - Gracie Barra Bristol (Mount & Side Control Transition)

Class #454
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Nicolai 'Geeza' Holt, Bristol, UK - 20/04/2012

I was intending to train on Tuesday this week, but like last week, my gf asked if I could shift my days around, so again I was in on Friday. Should be back to the normal schedule of training Tuesday next week, though: I'll be interested to see if Dónal has made any adjustments now that the gi class is only an hour, followed by nogi.

Tonight Geeza discussed the transition between side control and mount. Unusually, he demonstrated mount to side control, which isn't something you'd typically expect: on the one hand, that's dropping down the positional hierarchy, which isn't normally advisable. However, if you're about to lose position, it makes sense to go for one almost as solid before you fall even further down, such as into guard or half guard.

Another interesting comment Geeza made was that he feels that side control is preferable to the mount if your opponent is going nuts trying to escape. If you'd asked me which I prefer a year ago, I would have said side control, no question. More recently, I've been feeling increasingly comfortable in the mount, so now I'm not sure (although on the other hand, on the rare occasions I do submit somebody, it's almost always from either side control or top half guard and pretty much never from mount).

So, if you find that they're about to escape by turning and bridging, then you can switch from mount to side control by swinging the leg (on the side to which they're turning) over their head. Turn your body to face the mat, swinging your other leg around in the process. You can then reverse by swinging back over their head, to land in s-mount (particularly if they turn towards you after you've just spun to side control). Essentially, you're breakdancing on them, which looks awesome if you get it right, but it's a risky move.

A safer transition is the standard side control to mount. Secure a solid side control with one arm under the head, cross-facing, while the other goes under their far armpit. Prying their near elbow open with your near knee, bringing that in tight to put their near arm out of commission. Crawl up towards their head with your far side hand, then slide your knee across their belt line. Once it's far enough, turn your body slightly to slap the side of that foot on the mat (to avoid getting stuck in half guard), then secure the mount.

We finished up with a bit of specific sparring. Geeza put an interesting twist on it, as you could start in either side control or mount, but the goal was to make at least two transitions. That was good for the person on top, as it forced them to work their mobility rather than clamping down in a static hold, while the person on the bottom could work on timing their escapes with those transitions.

On top, I tried starting in both side control and mount, generally going for side control with the less experienced training partners, as mount seems almost unfair in that situation. I didn't with everyone though: one of the blues quickly punished my sloppy attempt to switch to mount from side control by catching my leg in half guard. It's always good to get a reminder of the danger that comes with trying to rush that transition.

From mount, as Geeza said, it's easier to make that transition, because you're starting in a more dominant position. It also gave me a chance to practice holding mount against someone much bigger. My tactic of loading up my weight on one side by putting my head in the opposite direction when they roll (something I learned from Roger, IIRC) wasn't quite enough when the size difference is really big, or rather, I need to pull it off perfectly when the discrepancy is that large. Another good lesson to keep in mind.

Underneath, the person on the bottom almost had the advantage, as the person on top had to move. It was mainly a matter of waiting for them to start shifting their weight, or baiting them into motion. I like the drill, so something I'll look to incorporate into mount lessons in future. It would combine well with the Saulo side control, as that's a fluid position. Also, I'm not sure what criteria Geeza uses, but I got a stripe.


  1. "Another interesting comment Geeza made was that he feels that side control is preferable to the mount if your opponent is going nuts trying to escape."

    I like mount, but I tend to agree with Geeza. I just like the mobility you have in side control. You can be mobile in mount as well, but it is easier for me to stay mobile AND tight in side control.

  2. I always used to prefer side control over mount, because side control feels safer. Your hips aren't directly above theirs, so it isn't as easy for them to knock your weight around. It also isn't as easy for them to trap your limbs, like hooking a leg with their foot.

    However, I've been getting more comfortable in mount, so I've also been revisiting that preference. I think if I could get good at the switch between side control and mount, that would present a lot more options. Something to play with, although I generally feel more comfortable with solid and tight rather than loose and fluid.