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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

24 January 2013

24/01/2013 - Teaching (Side Control Escape: Stiff Arm)

Teaching #088
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 24/01/2013

I wanted to try a different escape tonight, which isn't one I've used much in the past. However, having chatted about it with John over in Texas last year, it's an escape I'd like to incorporate into my repertoire. Like the running escape, this involves turning to the 'open' side, but this time, you're doing that while controlling one of their arms. I'm not sure what the most common term is for this escape: 'stiff arm' is what I think I'll use from now on, as that seems to be the common element to the various set-ups. You might also hear it called 'elbow push' or 'armpit push'. Brian McLaughlin calls it 'the Heisman', which judging by Google is due to a well-known sports trophy featuring an American Footballer with an outstretched arm. At least I think that's why: American Football is outside of my cultural experience. ;D

I started with the armpit push version I first saw several years ago, which was on an old Braulio instructional. It's also been taught recently by McLaughlin, late last year. You're under a standard side control, then they bring their arm over to the far side. Drive them towards their legs by pressing in that direction with the arm you have by their neck. This creates some room for you to get the other hand into their armpit. Straighten out your pushing arm, then try to immediately sit up in order to get onto your elbow then your hand. Keep pushing and sitting forward, until you can roll them over your hip. This shouldn't take much strength once you have them off-balance.

Marcelo Garcia's elbow push (technically it's the triceps, but he calls it 'elbow push' on MGinAction) version begins a little differently, as he works from under a standard side control then brings their arm across. He also prefers to push into the triceps, gripping with the thumb pointing downwards just above their elbow. You can also grab the gi, but that gives them a bit more room to move. Your arm stays straight in either case. Still holding that arm, swing your legs straight up, then as they come down, use that momentum to sit up. Immediately base out on your elbow, then move to basing on your hand. Continuing to push on their triceps, shrimp backwards into the space you've created, until you can recover guard.

Interestingly, in the version John showed me in November, you don't sit up at all, but stay on the floor. Keep on pushing the arm towards your legs, until you can roll them right over the top of you and establish side control. I find sitting up easier at the moment, but I'd like to pick John's brain some more about his version, as it worked really well when he showed it to me in person (which means I must be missing some important details when I try it, or simply need more practice with it).

In regards to troubleshooting, Marcelo Garcia has a number of different options. If they keep on bringing their arm back towards your head, adjust your grip so you're trapping their arm under your armpit. Swing your legs round away from them, then pull on the arm and drive with your shoulder to flatten them to the mat. From here, you can simply pull up on the arm for an armbar (which IIRC is called 'waki-gatame' in judo, as I was first taught that technique in one of the few judo classes I attended back in the day). If they roll through, readjust and hyper-extend their elbow downwards instead.

Finally, should you find they keep moving around towards your head, Marcelo suggests bringing your head up to block. If you time that right, you can move straight into a fireman's carry and either stand up and throw them, or just flip them over your head from kneeling. Failing that, you could simply go for their knees, as if you had done the standard escape to the knees from under side control.


Teaching Notes: It was good to experiment with something different, but I definitely feel I need more refining to get the stiff arm escape class structure and content to my liking. Next time, I may go with Mike's suggestion and include the similar counter to a stack pass, like Jeff Rockwell showed me in Texas. Marcelo combines that with the stiff arm escape when he teaches it on MGinAction, so it seems like a good combo.

Doing my usual John Will style review at the end of class, by accident I was shown something obvious. If people point their heads towards the far wall, I can then demonstrate while still being able to see what they're doing, rather than facing away. D'oh. I'll do it that way from now on, as then I can make sure people aren't having problems following along.

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