Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 26/07/2012
I returned to one of my early classes tonight, on the basics of maintaining side control. The first thing is to reverse engineer the escape. When you're underneath, one of the worst things that can happen is they control your near arm. Now that you're on top, that is therefore exactly what you want. Start by digging your knee in to get it into the armpit. You want to slip it right under, bringing your knees in close to their head.
Next, you want to apply the cross face. If you're not familiar with the term, that means bringing your near side arm under their head. From that position, you can then drive your shoulder into the side of their head or neck, aiming to get their head to turn away from you and/or generate some choking pressure to distract them. If they can't turn back towards you due to the shoulder pressure, it will make it much harder for them to create space and escape. Choking pressure can also open up opportunities to switch to mount or consider initiating a submission attempt. This is what SBG call the 'shoulder of justice.'
So, you've got control of their near arm and their head. You're now going to deal with their far arm. Reach under that far elbow with your arm, coming under the armpit. You have a couple of options here. Option one is linking your hands together with a gable grip and sucking them in towards you, providing a very tight side control. This is how Tran showed it to me several years ago, and has been my preferred control ever since. Option two is gripping around their shoulder, to bring their shoulder off the mat. You can also use the elbow of your far arm to squeeze into their far hip.
You want to keep control over this far arm for two reasons: first, they can use it to defend, by getting it into your neck. Second, there are a number of attacks you can do from here. Final point I wanted to emphasise was chest position. Picture an imaginary line between the middle of their chest and also between yours. You want to bisect those lines: don't be too far over them, or they can easily roll you (if they DO try and roll you and it's working, put your far arm out for base). Too far back, and it's easier for them to slip out and escape. Stay low, dropping your hips: don't leave them any space.
This is what I would call orthodox side control, and it's the one I use all the time. I prefer this position, because here I feel like I have the most control, as my opponent has no space. I also tend to clasp my hands, in what Xande calls the 'super hold' on his DVD, with good reason. It's a powerful grip.
At this point, I wanted to note that there are a bunch of different things you can do with your legs. I prefer to bring both knees in tight. Other people like to sprawl them back and drop the hips. Then there are others who will have one knee up by the hip, the other leg sprawled back. Play around and see which you like, and also be ready to switch depending on your partner's movement
I was keen to emphasise mobility in side control as well as focused pressure. Although it can be tempting to just seize up in side control, you have to keep moving: otherwise, you aren't reacting to your opponent and they're eventually going to escape.
That transitional, mobile element to side control can be seen in Saulo's method for maintaining side control, which he shows on Jiu Jitsu Revolution. He keeps his hip stuck to theirs throughout. He keeps his hip constantly next to his opponent's hip. The only time he lets off the pressure is if he gets something better, like strong control on the far arm. As they move, turn and put your other hip to theirs, following them around with your legs sprawled back. Your elbow is across, blocking their other hip: however, be careful of pinching that in too forcefully, as that may help them initiate an escape where they roll you over the top.
BJJGrrl: BJJ for Women
jnp's Grappling Principles
26 July 2012