Perhaps one of the most challenging positions for BJJ beginners is to escape the side control. Side control is a position where you pin your opponent, forming a T-like position. It is a controlling grappling position in which the top attacker lies perpendicularly over the opponent. The one on top has side control can either transition to other pins or attack by way of strikes and submissions. The person on bottom side control is pinned and must find ways to defend against any incoming attacks. If you have trained in BJJ for a while, you’ll understand that you need to have go-to moves when stuck under side control. Today we’ll talk about the little tricks that you can attempt from bottom side control.
Control The Inside Position
The first tip, when stuck in side control, is to think about defense first. This concept is useful because you can do this as your guard gets passed or if you are already stuck on the bottom. The main idea here is to dominate the inside position by framing against the opponent’s far arm. You can cup on the crook of the elbow to prevent your opponent from scooping you to secure the pin.
In this video, BJJ black belt Chewy teaches how controlling the inside position can help you escape (and prevent) side control. Controlling the arm acts as a post and limits the way your opponent can hold you down. The main reason why many beginners find side control a tough position to escape from is that they don’t have the inside position to create distance and recover the guard. Blocking the arm at the onset of the pin gives you the needed time to shrimp away and go back to guard. The concept of inside position is especially important because it is used in many escaping philosophies. The next trick also revolves around the idea of controlling the inside position.
Use Sit-Up Escapes
The sit-up escape is a move popularized by multiple-time world champion Marcelo Garcia. It is a technique where you use the inside position to base out and misdirect your opponent’s weight. This is a highly effective technique and is effective from the beginner up to the black belt level.
This video demonstrates the sit-up escape in detail. Marcelo mentions that the best time to do the sit-up escape is when your opponent steps to the side to get side control. Use your forearm across your opponent’s neck as they move towards your side and sit up. From here, move your legs away from your opponent, pull your feet in and stand up. This is an awesome technique to use against wrestlers and pressure passers.
This video teaches what to do when you are unable to block your opponent near the neck. Think of this as the next layer of defense of the sit-up escape. This is similar to the Chewy video, where you block the arm and extend your own arm to create distance. Marcelo then teaches the possibilities that may arise from this position. This video is a masterclass in escapes, as expected from the BJJ legend.
This video demonstrates how the sit-up escape can be used in a variety of passing attempts. Notice that the technique is very flexible because you can use the arm, the shoulder, and the head as a post to create distance and sit up. Do note that the sit-up escape requires you to be sensitive to your opponent’s movement, meaning that the best time to use the escape is in transitions. You can combine the sit-up escape with shrimping, inversion, and inserting of hooks for maximum effectiveness.
It is essential not to allow your arms to stray far from your body, as most attacks from side control involve arm attacks. Similarly, also monitor your head position because there are also strangles available from this pin. From here, try to relax and look for your opponent to make mistakes when attacking. This will surely open up space for escapes and reversals if you stay patient.
In this video, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt Ryron Gracie demonstrates the value of staying tight when stuck on the bottom. Notice that he emphasizes working on small movements and not forcing the escape. He also mentions that you can grab the back of the head and the tricep to restrict any attack that your opponent might make. You can then attempt to recover your frames once the pressure subsides. This is an excellent survival tactic that anyone can do and is very useful in sport grappling, MMA, and self-defense.
Armlock From Bottom Side Control
In this video, BJJ black belt Almiro Barros teaches a surprise attack from bottom side control. It starts by blocking your opponent’s arm using your inside arm as he attempts a cross-face. You then pass the arm to your other hand and switch to a figure 4 grip. After this, bridge and thread your leg underneath to reverse the position. Maintain the figure 4 grip as you move to the north-south position. Grab the opponent’s left leg and finish with the armbar. This technique is not very well known but is sure to catch unsuspecting training partners!
Drill To Win
It is critical to drill these techniques on a consistent basis. These techniques are very effective and require a good understanding of body mechanics. This means that knowing the sequence is not enough. You must also get a “feel” of the techniques and understand the common reactions that may arise. Remember that BJJ is a skill that needs to be practiced as much as you can to stick. Practice these techniques with a partner with no resistance at the start, then try them with gradual resistance as you get better.
These techniques are just the tip of the iceberg to building a bulletproof bottom side control game. Try them out, and let us know what you think!
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