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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

25 January 2013

25/01/2013 - Teaching (Side Control Escapes) Beginner

Teaching #089
Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 25/01/2013

Geeza is away on Friday and Saturday, so asked if I could take the class instead. Fortunately for me, it's right in my comfort zone: side control escapes. I was also looking forward to playing with a different format and different set of students, as on Fridays there are two classes. The beginner session is an hour, followed directly by the advanced class, which like my Thursday class is an hour and a half.

I decided to add in John's excellent conceptual framework again, in the hope that would help people realise what they're up against when underneath side control. To repeat, on top of side control, they are looking for two primary areas of control: the triangle of your head and shoulders along with the line of your hips. If they can secure at least three of those, you're in trouble. There's more to the framework, but that's the part most relevant to side control.

I initially intended to try and split the basic guard recovery into two sections, but decided against it when it came to teaching. Instead, I just went with the basic guard recovery, like I normally do when I teach this class. Along with the running escape, this is the escape I personally use the most. I started by focusing on your hand and arm positioning. First thing to note is that they will want to kill your near arm. This is bad for you, because it means you can't stop them shifting up towards your head. From there, they can make as much space as they want and pass to mount.

So, you need to get your arm inside, the forearm pressing against their hip: this is a bit more reliable that grabbing the gi material, as they can potentially still bring their body onto your hand and collapse it due to the loose material. The forearm into the hip will help block their movement, and initiate your attempts to create some space. It should also help you block them moving to north south, as if you clamp your arm by their side, your body will move with them if they try to switch position.

One thing to note is that having your forearm by their hip like that does leave you more open to the cross-face. So, you could potentially block inside their cross-facing arm instead, which will prevent their shoulder pressure. This is the Saulo method from his book, which I'll get into later.

With your other hand, grab the gi material by their shoulder, close to their neck, then pull down. Twist that arm up into their neck, keeping the elbow in: you need to be tight here, as otherwise they will go for a figure four on that arm. Once you've got the forearm into their neck, they can't press down into you, as they'll essentially be choking themselves. Note that this is a block: you don't want to start pushing and reaching, as that may leave you vulnerable. Reach too far and they can shove your arm to one side and set up an arm triangle.

Next I moved on to the legs. Your legs have two main purposes here: first, blocking your opponent getting to mount. Raise your near knee and drive it into their side. The idea is to wedge them between your knee and the arm you have by their hip. Personally, I like to keep my knee floating, glued to their side.

That makes it easier to slip my knee under as soon as they give me any space, which is something I learned from Roger. Many people prefer to cross their foot over their knee, which is something I used to do in the past as well. However, as this long Sherdog thread discusses, that can leave you open to a footlock, and also limit your mobility. Then again, you can see it used at the highest levels, like here at the Mundials.

The second use for your legs is bridging. Marcelo Garcia has a handy tip for this (although the escape he is doing there is slightly different), related to increasing the power of your bridge. To do that, bring your foot right to your bum, up on your toes. That increases your range of motion, so you can really drive into them.

Make sure you turn into them as you bridge, rather than just straight up. This will help the next part, which is to shrimp out as you come back down. That's why you've created space in the first place: if you simply plopped back down, then you've wasted the opportunity. As soon as you shrimp out, slip the knee pressing into their side underneath. Note you aren't trying to lift them with your arms. Instead, you want to push off them, moving your body away rather than pushing theirs higher up.

Once your knee is through, you need to be careful they don't immediately pass by pushing down and moving around that knee, ruining all your hard work. To prevent that, keep your hand by their shoulder. Straighten it, then add further support by bracing your other hand into their bicep (same side as the blocked shoulder). Your new frame should create a barrier to their pass, giving you enough time to recover your guard, or even move into a submission.

Alternatively, you can control their arm with your hip-bracing arm as you escape, like Roy Dean demonstrates in Blue Belt Requirements. That will also stop them pushing down on your knee, as their arm is trapped. It is worth trying both and seeing which you prefer, or which one the situation demands.

Roy Dean is also a useful reference point for the second side control escape I like to demonstrate, where you go to your knees. It begins in much the same way as the shrimp back to guard, again establishing that frame with your arms, knee into the side and bridging. As an instructor, that meant I could review what we'd just done once again, which is useful: whenever possible, I also want to closely link whatever techniques I'm teaching.

After you bridge and shrimp this time, you're going to do something different with the arm you have into their neck. Rotate it under their armpit, then reach for their legs. Roy Dean shifts out to the side, ending up crouched next to them (as in the picture). From there, he reaches for the far knee and drives forward, moving to the top position.


Teaching Notes: Having just an hour is something I can now prepare for more carefully. It is possible to teach much the same class and change the timings, which is what I ended up doing tonight (so, 3 minutes drilling each rather than 4 and just 2 minutes of progressive resistance each rather than 3), but I'd like to design something more specific for the one hour period. That would involve more time teaching one hour classes, however.

After tonight, I would say that if I teach a one hour class again, I'll just go with one technique rather than two. Sparring time is very important: with two techniques, I ended up with a mere four minutes total of sparring. On top of that, I felt I had to cram in the drilling and progressive resistance compared to usual. Should I teach another one hour class, I'll teach one technique with my normal timings, which should still leave a good chunk of time for sparring.

I also don't think the conceptual framework at the start particularly helped, so I won't bother with that next time. However, it is definitely something I want to emphasise next week, when I'll be teaching maintaining side control from the top, another of my favourite topics.

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