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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

04 March 2016

04/03/2016 - Teaching | Side Control | Running Escape

Teaching #473
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 04/03/2016

I started off by talking about the running escape as a survival posture. I first pointed out the importance of blocking their arm from reaching through past your hip. Ideally you want to block that by jamming your forearm to your thigh, so that you elbow is by your hip. This will need to be mobile, as they will be trying to wriggle past.

Putting your arm under your knee can work too, depending on your flexibility, but be careful of reaching too far under your leg. It may leave you vulnerable to them collapsing your leg on top of your arm, trapping both limbs (unless you're flexible enough to get your heel right to your hip, which should be a strong enough structure to prevent that).

If they do manage to get their arm in, dig it back out using your elbow and knee. You can also drive your shin into the crook of their elbow and recover your position, or potentially try and recover guard by spinning off that leverage point (Beneville calls this the 'shin in elbow trick' in his book). I should note that it is possible to escape while their arm is through (Marcelo teaches it that way, IIRC), but personally I find it much tougher when they have that arm through.

The second survival tip is being very careful of their attempts to take your back. Especially if they have an arm through and can reach your opposite hip, they will try to lift you up and slide their leg underneath. That will then help them to put in their hooks and take the back. If they do start to take your back, block their second hook with your elbow and knee (in the same way you were blocking their arm), hopefully setting you up to either get back to the running escape, or perhaps starting a pass off the back escape. Blocking the first hook with your hand is another possibility, but that could potentially leave your neck vulnerable.

Which leads into the third point: protect your neck. You are relatively safe in the running escape, but if they can reach a hand past your neck and grab a collar, that's dangerous. If you feel their hand beginning to sneak past your shoulder, immediately dive your head into your lower armpit. It is a strange position, but that motion should close off their route to your neck. This isn't somewhere you want to stay very long: just enough to prevent that choke set-up.

Moving on to the actual escape, saulo's version in Jiu Jitsu University (p69), which begins by making a little space and turning to the survival posture, 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, 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 risky part is as you're swinging through with your legs in the air: if your partner is prepared and you aren't able to perform that motion smoothly and efficiently, they may be able to set up a double-underhook pass. It is therefore important to clamp your legs down as Saulo does in the last picture, rather than leaving them dangling and vulnerable. If they do get that double underhook, make your legs heavy, wriggle back on your shoulders, then hook your insteps inside their thighs.

Saulo has a little tweak to this guard recovery option, which I noticed on his new instructional site, BJJ Library (review now up, here). It may be he did this previously, but it was highlighted on the running escape video. In the past, I have used a wide base, securing my weight on my shoulder and two feet. The way Saulo did it in the video was with a much narrower base, pushing off with his feet straight from the running escape position rather than stepping out to wide the legs. He also makes more of a push with his hips into them, staying close, rather than a swing. If you can manage to push them with your hips, that leaves less space for them to move right into the double-underhooks pass.

To further enhance your push, you can try the tips I got from Donal's private lesson a while back: using the elbow to make some space before you go for the hip swing. After you have shoved your elbow into their chest, continue to extend it to push them further. Initially, especially if you are very defensive like me, that feels as if you're leaving your arm vulnerable. However, because you are immediately following up the elbow shove and arm extension with a hip bump and leg swing, they shouldn't have a chance to capitalise on your arm being out there.

On that point, 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. 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.

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 & Sparring Notes: To my surprise, it has been almost three years since I last taught this option, so high time I went through it again. I went through the leg swing in drilling, though it is tricky so a few people had trouble picking it up (I think they all got it after drilling and my corrections, but it's one of those more complex motions that takes a while). With a few pairs, I also showed the simpler option, where you turn all the way through. I don't generally teach that as a primary method, because I find it rarely works for me in practice. Then again, that might just be me, so I should show it more.

A few people were worried that they would get double underhook passed when trying this. I think the solution for that is to whack them off balance as you swing through, hitting them with your hips. Also, getting into the habit of digging your leg under an arm, rather than draping them over the top (though admittedly that dexterity is not easy to do if you've only just learned the swing). I don't use this escape as much as I used to, though it remains a great fallback when I'm getting squashed or simply tired. These days, I've tried top move towards the stiff arm instead, from Jeff Rockwell's sit-up escape system.

I got in some sparring at open mat, where I wanted to work more on my open guard. I was being careful of my neck, so stayed on top. I am relying far too much on driving through with a knee cut. That has its risks, as I found out today: I got caught in a nifty loop choke (apparently something Kron Gracie does) right after a knee cut pass. If they get that cross collar grip, you need to be careful that they can't finish off the loop. It is a high risk submissions, as if you don't pull it off your guard has been passed, but it does work. Something for me to note next time! ;)

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