Gracie Barra Bristol, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 21/03/2013
I started off by focusing on the survival posture 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.
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.
You need to keep several 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.
Moving on to the actual escape technique, I went with two options. Saulo's version in Jiu Jitsu University (p69) begins by making a little space and turning to the survival posture, then links directly to his knee on belly escape. I normally just teach that knee on belly escape as a drill for my open guard maintenance lesson (e.g., back in October), as the swinging motion is a useful skill to learn. However, in his book, Saulo uses that motion to recover his guard from under side control, rather than the swivel he uses in Jiu Jitsu Revolution 2 (he does a much quicker version in his first set, Jiu Jitsu Revolution 1).
The second and perhaps more difficult option is from Saulo's DVD. 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. This is probably the simplest option, but I find it is difficult to secure that position, as I have to scramble for a grip before they pass.
Whichever option you go for, be careful to 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 start to recover guard, 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.
Teaching Notes: I added in a bit more detail on the swinging legs escape, in regards to recovering if you mess up and they underhook both your legs. I could go into more detail, but I just advised to make your legs heavy, wriggle back on your shoulders, then hook your insteps inside their thighs. As I'm separating the escapes part into a separate section, I don't think I was overloading by adding that in, but I'll ask for feedback and see what people think.
Also on the escapes, I could probably make more of framing after doing the second escape, when you just turn. Geraldine (who has recently moved to Bristol from Torquay, where she trained with the Fightworx crew, so ex-team mate of Vikki and She-Beast) did something interesting when I was drilling this with her, as she simply scooted back.
I hadn't thought of that, so will add that in next time, as it's a good idea, along with framing and/or securing grips. Geraldine proved to be a great training partner (particularly as she was doing stuff that I think will help when I next teach this escape, like that scoot back), so hopefully I'll be able to roll with her more in future (plus she said she's read my blog, which means extra cool points ;p).
Judging from what the two big guys in the class said, I don't think they found the running escape as useful as the smaller people, so that's something to think about. I could try asking some of the other bigger people if they ever use it, like Nick, or indeed Geeza. Steve mentioned that he generally just turns to turtle: I guess the running escape could be handy as an intermediary stage if you like going to turtle under side control anyway.
I'm also continuing to get in plenty of sparring with students, which is nice from a selfish "I want to train more" perspective, but also handy for testing out stuff I want to teach, in this case top side control. It is especially good that Tony is back training regularly, as he and Mike are two of my favourite training partners. I know I'll get a challenging roll from both of them, but it will be technical. Mike hit a nifty stiff-arm escape on me, which is something I can never manage myself, so will have to pick his brain on it (he mentioned it's been working well for him recently).
Speaking of Tony, he had an interesting point during sparring. When teaching, I had mentioned that it is generally a bad idea to reach under your leg to grab it, as then they may be able to collapse your leg on top of your arm, trapping both limbs (something I think Jeff Rockwell taught me). Tony likes to put his arm under, but he brings his heel in tight to his hip, as if he was technically mounting himself. That means the knee is up high, so it's difficult to collapse. Next time I teach it, I can therefore mention that you break that 'rule' if you're sufficiently flexible.