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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

22 January 2013

22/01/2013 - Gracie Barra Bristol (Side Control Escapes/Guard Retention)

Class #482
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Dónal Carmody, Bristol, UK - 22/01/2013

The next fortnight is side control, with the first week focusing on the bottom, the second on the top. As before I couldn't do most of the warm-up drills, except for the light grip fighting. I was hoping that I'd be ok as it was escaping side control, which shouldn't involve too much twisting of the legs.

However, Dónal took the angle of escaping side control by preventing them getting to that point, so essentially it was a lesson on guard retention. As soon as they move past the legs, frame on their arm and shoulder. Shrimp away and get onto your side. Next, bring your bottom shin across their stomach, creating some distance between you and them. Swing your other leg to the far side of their head, then turn your knee away. That should enable you to adjust your hips and recover guard.

If they are going low on the pass and hugging your legs, Dónal had another option for retaining your guard. I'm not sure I quite understood this fully, but the idea is fairly simple. They are wrapping your legs, staying low, but that means they don't have much control over your upper body. Sit up, then turn, putting your rear hand behind you for base. Your forward hand reaches across to their opposite leg, hooking underneath their thigh. This should stop their movement towards you. If they try to switch sides or step over to mount, lift, insert your butterfly hook and sweep them.

Like last week I wasn't sparring, so just did some drilling on the side control escape I was thinking of teaching on Thursday and Friday. That proved useful, as it highlighted a few areas where I think people might have trouble and therefore want solutions. Should be fun: I'll get to essentially do a 'test run' on the Thursday, meaning that the Friday version of the class should be more refined. ;)


  1. That "sit up, then turn, putting your rear hand behind you for base" guard retention technique you describe is one we've recently been exploring at my academy. If done aggressively enough, your opponent will instinctively try to step over into mount, dependent of course on their mat acumen or lack thereof. It's a splendid way to bait a simple butterfly sweep.

  2. Yeah, it's one I'll have to play with to test it out. Although I'm sure it's a good technique, given Dónal's ability on the mat.