While each position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has its intrinsic strengths and weaknesses, some positions are obviously far superior to others. This positional hierarchy is the foundation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. While most positions have an undisputed rank in the hierarchy, there is one debate that often causes much strife and disagreement. That is the argument about whether it is better for a top player to attempt to achieve side control or the mount.
Many BJJ practitioners, both novice and experienced, will prefer attacking their opponents from side control over attempting to move to mount and attacking from there. While the basis for their logic is sound, they are missing several immutable facts about the nature of the mount position, which gives it superiority over side control. While grapplers have different preferences about how they like to roll, it is an extraordinarily bad habit to choose a less advantageous position over a mechanically superior one.
Here are just a few reasons for grapplers to choose the mount over side control:
1) The Full Body Pin
The strongest characteristic of the mount position is the ability to pin the opponent without having to commit your arms to the pin. Of course, we always want to use our arms while in the mount to attack strangles and armlocks, but they are not required to hold our opponent down. When attacking from side control, we need to dedicate our upper body extremities to achieving cross faces, underhooks, and other forms of control that keep the opponent pinned. Of course, there are plenty of submission attacks that can originate from these positions, but they still require the initial control, to begin with. This is opposed to the mount position, where you lie on your opponent and use your legs and hips to keep him or her down, leaving your arms free to isolate limbs and start attacking.
While it is very beneficial in a submission grappling context to have your arms free to pursue submission attempts, this advantage is tenfold in a scenario where strikes are involved. Whether it is in the context of MMA or a self-defense situation, the mount will allow you to create pinning pressure with your lower body, leaving your hands free to throw strikes.
2) The Lower Cost Of Failure
Even the most proficient grapplers will occasionally be thrown out of a dominant position by an explosive opponent. While it is always ideal to fight to stay in top position, good grapplers should always have an idea about what they will do if they are reversed from that position. This is another area where the mount position is more advantageous than its cousin, the side control.
Take, for instance, the following two situations. In the first, a grappler passes his opponent’s guard and settles into side control. Being a particularly muscular individual, the opponent explodes over, throwing the grappler off of him and into bottom side control. Our once dominant grappler has gone from a good position (side control top) to a horrible position (side control bottom). Now let’s take a look at what would have happened if the grappler had chosen to pursue mount over side control.
This time, the grappler passes his opponent’s guard and immediately moves to mount instead of side control. Now when the opponent explodes and rolls him over, the grappler ends up in the guard position. Being in the guard is a much better position than being on bottom side control, for obvious reasons.
This lower “cost of failure” is a massive asset to the mount position. Even when your opponents escape, they will be stuck in the closed guard, requiring them to expend even more energy to get into a dominant position. This is an important aspect of the mount that all BJJ practitioners, especially newer ones, should take into account in when making decisions about whether to move to mount or remain in side control.
3) Simpler Path To The Back
Our final topic pertains to the ability of these two positions to lead to the ultimate goal in grappling, the back position. Taking the back of their opponent provides BJJ players a tremendous advantage over their opponent, as they have numerous options to attack armlocks and strangles while their opponent’s options for counter-attack are virtually nil.
While both the mount and top side control provide options for taking the back, the mount offers a virtually effortless transition, while the path from side control requires much more movement and effort. The majority of back takes from side control come when the bottom player decides to attempt an escape by turning either into or away from the top player. If the bottom player turns away, the top player will need to establish a seatbelt grip, step his or her top leg over, and slide the bottom leg under the opponent, taking the back. If the opponent turns in, the top player will have to spin around to the other side and then implement the same movements to take the back.
These are not easy movements, requiring a high level of speed and skill to implement, compared to the relatively easy method available from the mount. If you have mounted your opponent, and the opponent attempts to escape by turning, all you have to do is allow the opponent to roll over underneath you, and establish the hooks at the proper time. This is a much simpler and straightforward method of taking the back as compared to the ones from side control. By eliminating unnecessary movements, you are likely to see your success rate in ending up on the back skyrocket, leading to many more submission victories.
Hopefully, we have provided you with clear reasons on why the mount position should be favored over side control. While we have extensively discussed the different reasons why the mount is superior, the best way to realize this is to hop into your next training session and find out for yourself!