| bjj resources

 BJJ FAQ  Academy

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

15 October 2014

15/10/2014 - Teaching | Side Control | Stiff Arm Escape

Teaching #213
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 15/10/2014

As I've got a number of people who pop down once a week (normally on a Monday), I'm trying to make sure they at least see one escape, one version of maintaining and one attack. That's dependent on who shows up each night, but this time round, I continued with escapes to save the maintaining classes for next week.

That meant a different escape option tonight, the stiff arm. I know two main variations, of which I find Marcelo Garcia's elbow push (technically it's the triceps, but he calls it 'elbow push' on MGinAction) the higher percentage. He works from under a standard side control then brings their arm across. To do so, make some space by pressing into their neck and bridging if necessary, then sneaking your other hand under their armpit and onto your head.

Use your elbow to bump their arm over. As soon as their arm clears your head, immediately grab just above their elbow, pinching your hand around their triceps. Extend your arm so it is straight: this is absolutely key, keep it straight. Still holding their arm, swing your legs straight up, then as they come down, use that momentum to sit up. Bring your free arm backwards in order to base out on your elbow (if possible, extend that arm when you can, in order to post on your hand and create a stronger base). Continuing to push on their triceps, shrimp backwards into the space you've created, until you can recover guard.


Teaching Notes: The stiff arm is a bit less intuitive than the basic escapes, but everyone picked it up well. They also did something during progressive resistance that I think is worth including. When trying to get the arm past the arm, some people were using both arms to push. Similarly, when stiff arming the elbow away, a few people were starting with two arms there too. That seems like a valid way to add some additional support, so something I'll consider for next time.

It's also worth noting, as I did today, that pushing their arm over from a typical strong side control is probably not how it's going to happen in sparring. More likely, you seize the opportunity as they bring their arm past your head, like when they want to switch to attack your arm. I will have a think if I can imitate that in drilling, although on the other hand, if you know how to do it when they aren't giving you the opportunity, that should hopefully make it that much easier when they DO leave that chance.

I could have gone through the other option, but I think the elbow push was enough for today. However, as I'm likely to be teaching this again tomorrow in the Kingswood class, I might well run through the armpit push too. So, the armpit push version is something I first saw several years ago, which was on an old Braulio instructional, with Brian McLaughlin's video providing further details. 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. Once that stiff arm is in place, the shrimping back to guard option is always there too, and probably more high percentage.


  1. I like this, and have been trying to implement, but keep getting arm-barred during the stiff arm. Any ideas on how to avoid?

  2. Interesting, that's never happened to me. Hard for me to advise without seeing you try the escape, though. I guess suck your elbow back and bail once you feel them isolating the arm?

  3. Yep. Pretty much every time, they'll try to step over and arm-bar. But, yes, maybe it's just a matter of bailing early on the escape if you feel the isolation.

  4. I'll have a play with that at open mat some time, telling my partner to immediately try and step over to armbar, then see if I can work out what's going on. Useful to know for when I next come to teach it.

    After all, if it happens to you, then it could happen to my students trying it out too. :)