Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 14/06/2012
Last time I taught escaping side control, I covered the basic options. I added another reminder in the warm-up, by again including that continuous side control escape drill. The technique for tonight takes the same principle of bridging and turning, but in the other direction.
This is what I would refer to as the running escape, as I first saw it on Saulo's DVD. He touches on it briefly in that first series, then in much more detail on his follow up set. As always with BJJ terminology, there are plenty of other names for the same thing. For example, when I mentioned the running escape to Kev at RGA Bucks, he knew it as the 'coffee grinder' (Jean Jacques Machado's name for the running escape).
Rather than gripping under your head and far arm as in orthodox side control, for tonight's scenario your opponent is using near side grips (i.e., an arm under your head and by the same side hip). That means that it is very difficult to bridge towards them and shrimp, because they've trapped that side. However, you can still bridge away from them, as that side is completely open.
A simplified version of the running escape starts in much the same way as an orthodox escape: bridge to make some initial space. Your aim is to create a gap so that you can turn on your side, getting your hand past their near shoulder. Use that hand as a block, then step out with your bottom leg. Be careful you don't elbow your partner in the face as you do that, especially if you're pushing off their shoulder with your hand.
You can either try and quickly turn from there, or walk your legs around towards their head. When you've walked far enough, turn to your knees by bringing your top leg over. That means you are now facing them. Braulio prefers to stay close, immediately bringing his arm up into their armpit. His reasoning is that they will often try to take your back as you turn. If as Braulio suggests you stick your arm up, you can then take their back instead. You could alternatively stay facing them on your knees, working from that position, or turn and drop into an open guard.
After the class had drilled that version, I went into a bit more detail on the running escape. The defensive position you're looking to reach is turned away from them, with one leg over the other, foot based out. Your top elbow is clamped to that stepping leg (your forearm should be glued to your upper leg), while your other hand goes behind your head for defence. This can be a handy place to catch your breath, although it can also be tempting to stall.
I've been prone to doing that a lot in the past, but you need to move on to the actual escape. Push off the floor with your back foot, using that to move your body forward, your hips raised. Base on your head and shoulder, then turn your top knee inwards. Continue the rotation until you can recover open or half guard.
You need to keep five things in mind while in your defensive posture. First, don't let them sneak an arm around your waist. If they get an arm in, you aren't going to be able to turn away and free yourself. Should they get an arm inside, you'll have to either wriggle your elbow and knee back underneath, or shift to a different escape. It's possible you may be able to roll them, as when somebody reaches too deeply in turtle, but most likely they will start making space to insert their leg.
That leads into the second point: be careful they don't take your back. This is the most common attack people have done to me when I've tried it. If they can lift you up enough to slide their bottom leg through (if they have an arm around your waist, this becomes much more likely), you're in trouble. If it does happen, stay tight and don't let them get that second hook in. Your elbow is already by your hip and knee to block the first hook, which means you can use the hand of that same arm to help protect your other hip from their second hook. You might also be able to move into turtle and roll them, but that needs good timing and control of their arm.
Third, watch for chokes. Saulo confidently states that they are never going to be able to choke you if you duck your head, bringing it next to your arm to block their entry. However, you can't just lie there and assume you're immune to being choked: you still need to take care they aren't able to set anything up. Should they get hold of a collar, you can try yanking that same collar outwards to remove their grip, but it may be too late if they've already got a solid grasp and started cinching the collar tight against your neck.
Fourth, time your escape, staying sensitive to their weight distribution. If they are driving into you with lots of pressure, it will be hard to make space and turn. A good moment to attempt the escape is when they are looking to attack or transition to another position. Often, there will be a brief moment before they start when they take their weight off you. That is the time to spring the escape.
Finally, as you turn towards them, you need to make sure you secure the position. If you aren't careful, they can just keep moving round and put you back in side control. That's where I tend to get caught. If you're having trouble, you could instead try going to turtle, or perhaps use the principles of guard recovery: block their shoulder and bicep, get your legs in the way, hook their leg into half guard, etc.
It is possible that the person you are training with won't often use near side grips from side control. Speaking personally, I tend to go for the orthodox grip under the head and the far arm. That doesn't mean you can't use the running escape, it simply means you have to put yourself into position, forcing them to use near grips. All you need to do is make enough space that you can turn away and curl into a ball.