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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

17 February 2014

17/02/2014 - Teaching (Side Control Basic Maintenance: Hip-to-Hip)

Teaching #139
Bristol Sports Centre, (Artemis BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 17/02/2014

Last week, I went through the orthodox method of holding side control, something I see as the basic, 'safe' method for beginners that will give them some control. Today, I wanted 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. The old "it's better to bend than to break" cliche comes to mind.

That transitional, mobile element to side control can be seen in Saulo's hip-to-hip side control, which he shows on Jiu Jitsu Revolution. He keeps his hip stuck right by theirs throughout. 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.

Your weight should constantly be on them, because of that sprawl: don't touch the floor with your legs or knees. You can also reverse, which Saulo's brother Xande discusses in detail on his DVD set. Turn your hips in the other direction, so that you're now facing their legs. Control their far arm, also making sure to block their near hip to prevent their movement in that direction.

Teaching Notes: I think that next time, I should include some details about blocking their legs with your arm as you turn, as well as clamping your head to their hip. Stepping around their head and shifting to the other side would be worth including too (so, move your arm to the other side, step your leg over, walk around to north south, then adjust into that same hip-to-hip side control on the other side. I added it into my usual review at the end, but next time I'll put it into the main technical portion too.

I'm still playing with the warm-up. As there are a lot of drills I want to fit in, I'll be continuing to cut it down and rejig things, but for now, I left in shrimping and shrimping to your knees. After that, bridging and shrimping, then the continuous side control escape. The next part I want to include involves complicating the continuous side control escape, adding in a transition to mount, moving through to the other side (giving the people the option to stick with the continuous side control escape if they haven't learned the mount transition yet. Having that element of choice could be very useful as this warm-up progresses, but I'll see how it goes). After that, I'll add in switching to technical side mount, going side to side. For now, we just finished with scrunchies.

I'm also having a fiddle with the stretching at the end. Towards the end of last year, I was sent Elastic Steel for Grapplers, so I've been in the process of testing it out since then. Personally I'm rarely motivated enough to practice something that is a bit boring at home, like stretching, although I've been through the beginner routine a few times. It's more effective for me to try and incorporate it into the class cool down, which also helps me see if the routine is popular or not with the students.

The whole routine is way too long to add, so I just took a small snippet. After going through my usual legs, neck and arms stretching, I added in a section from Elastic Steel for Grappler, where you begin on all fours. From there, straighten out, so your legs and and arms are stretched to full extension and your bum is up in the air. That's called a 'downward dog', from yoga I think.

Lift you left heel then your right. Lunge forward with your right knee: in the routine, it starts with knee on the floor then progresses to knee off the floor, but due to limits, I just went with knee off the floor (giving the people the option of putting their knee on the floor if they wanted). Back to the downward dog, then the other knee forward into the deep lunge. Back to the downward dog, then the upward dog, then drop to the 'cobra', which is the same as the back stretch I'm used to. From there, I continue with the usual routine, sliding back to put your bum on your heels, then cobra, then bum on heels again to finish.

Asking at the end of the lesson, people seemed to like that additional bit of stretching, so that's promising. I'm not sure it does enough for the back: I ended up putting to feet over your head bit in too, as it felt like it needed it, but I'll see how it goes.


  1. I'm so sad I haven't been there for these side control classes. I could really use all these pointers! I have to satisfy myself with reading in close detail I guess. :)

  2. You'd be very welcome if you're ever in Bristol! We'd love to welcome you onto the mats at Artemis BJJ. :)

    Also, I'm going to be in your neck of the woods (well, in your country, at least :p) in a few months, which should be fun. I'm planning a big meet-up at Fabio Novaes' school in Florida on Saturday 3rd May, as he runs an 11:00 open mat that day.