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BJJ INSIDERS CLUB Eli Knight Bottom Side Control Reversals and Attacks
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BJJ INSIDERS CLUB Eli Knight Bottom Side Control Reversals and Attacks

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INTRO


Eli Knight is an accomplished BJJ black belt instructor with an impressive knowledge of jiu-jitsu.  Known for his extremely comprehensive and easy to follow instruction, he has joined the Insiders Club to discuss his approach to Bottom Side Escapes and Attacks.


WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM BOTTOM SIDE ESCAPES?


Every practitioner from their first day of live training to their final day on the BJJ mats can benefit from Eli Knight’s approach to escaping and attacking from bottom side control.  Being stuck underneath a more experienced students’ side control is arguably where most people spend their first months and even years looking up at the academy ceiling and wondering how to get out from under their training partners’ weight.  Even as you progress through the belt ranks, side control remains a popular position across the board.


Eli Knight’s philosophy of bottom side survival is broken into stages.  For Eli, the first goal a student should strive for is to learn to get comfortable in the bottom position.  Understanding the stages and transitions that a jiu jitsu practitioner goes through from guard play where they are actively controlling the forward process, to guard retention when the threat of the guard pass arises.  Beyond guard retention, there is pass prevention or the attempt to retain guard, and lastly, there is the acceptance that the guard has been passed.


For Eli Knight, even if your guard gets passed, it’s important not to let them settle in.  The opponent must always be worried.  His approach to escaping is proactive and is driven by the idea that he doesn’t only want to regain the guard, instead, he wants to advance to a superior position.  In striving for that superior position, the dilemma for the opponent is to either accept the less dominant position or wind up in a scramble where Eli Knight regains his guard.


The techniques covered in this edition of the Insiders Club are all connected by the thread of not just to get back where you were, but to advance beyond.





FRAMING AND REVERSAL 1


The single most important mentality shift that Eli Knight’s approach requires is how you think about framing.  The idea of framing to help control the opponent’s weight distribution to look for a way to escape is not new to most practitioners. For Eli Knight our frames must become more active and create situations where the opponent makes necessary mistakes in an effort to nullify the improved framing.



STEP ONE:  THE WHITE CRANE FRAMING STYLE


Once the opponent has passed the guard to side control, they will often drop their near hip to our hip to prevent us from easily bringing our knee in to start reclaiming guard.  From this difficult position, Eli recommends a frame across the neck and also a “White Crane Style” frame on the opponent’s arm that pins their arms back which prevents them from securing a cross face.  The “White Crane Style” hand position creates a hook with one’s pinky that makes it difficult for them to simply retract their arm and pass it over to the other side of the neck or body.


Another very important detail that makes Eli Knight’s bottom side control more uncomfortable for the opponent on top is the positioning of his head.  Eli Knight recommends keeping our head back on the mat as far away as possible.  This further stymies the opponent’s ability to put pressure on us and is another layer of defense against the cross face.


STEP TWO:  SECURE THE ELBOW AND TURKISH GET UP


Left with no options for advancing their position, the opponent is left to try to retract their arm. This allows the bottom player to grip them at the elbow, and using the outside leg they will drive up to their own elbow in a movement akin to a Turkish Get Up, which will force the opponent backwards and unable to come forward.  At this point they will either abandon their position, giving up the necessary space to regain guard, or be forced to topple back against the rising opponent.


STEP THREE:  RETRACT AND SCISSOR THE LEG


In this third step, as the opponent begins to topple backwards, instead of trying to power through like a technical standup into the opponent which would be extremely difficult, Eli Knight prescribes a retracted scissor-motion of the leg that retracts the leg back from the opponent, creating a trap door effect that will finish the reversal with the former bottom player now taking a dominant side control position of their own.





FRAMING AND REVERSAL 2


In this variation of Side Control Reversal, we find ourselves at a similar starting point.  Our guard has been passed and our hips are blocked.  This time the opponent begins to bring their arm over our heads with the intention of blocking the wedge near our neck or hips.  Eli Knight gives you the way to reverse to the opposite side of our first example.




STEP ONE:  FRAME IN THE ARMPIT AND BEYONCE HAND


As the opponent begins to bring their arm up and across our body, the hand that is framing across the neck and throat of the opponent must move to the opponent’s armpit.  Then with the “White Crane Style” hand, in a motion that Eli compares to a Beyonce dance move, you rotate your hand to C clamp the elbow and tricep area.  


STEP TWO:  PUSH THE ELBOW AND TURKISH GET UP


Now that the opponent’s elbow is controlled, by driving it back behind them, you are able to roll up on the free elbow further pushing the opponent’s weight down over the hips.  Similarly to the previous technique example, this creates a situation where the opponent must either resist, scramble and allow for the space to be created to regain the guard, or they must accept the reversal.


STEP THREE:  RETRACT AND SCISSOR THE LEG


Finally, just as in the final technique, the bottom leg must be retracted and scissored back underneath the hip to create the final trap-door effect for the opponent to fall into and finish the reversal.





STEP OVER 


In the Step Over Reversal, one finds themself in a situation where they were unable to stop the opponent from turning their back and bringing their arm across and over your body, securing  your hips in a Reverse Kesa Gatame style position.



STEP ONE:  MAKE SURE THE RIBS ARE EXPOSED


In the first step, the arm frames must be used to scoot one’s body away from the opponent’s, preventing them from moving their bodies high toward one’s head.  Once the bottom of the rib cage is exposed, one can sit up.


STEP TWO:  SIT UP AND DRAPE ARM OVER BACK/HIPS


Now that the ribs are exposed, the bottom player is able to sit up and throw their left arm up and over the opponent’s back and hips, positioning themselves on their bottom elbow.


STEP THREE:  IF THE FOOT IS PULLED IN–STEP OVER 


The position of the opponent’s near foot will decide whether the Step Over is possible.  If the opponent has their foot tucked close to their butt, you will use the arm draped on their back to clutch your own inner thigh, and step into them and over, reversing them to their back.


*STEP FOUR:  CONTINGENCY IF THE FOOT IS NOT PULLED IN


In the event that the foot is extended back, preventing the Step Over technique, the arm over the back will be used to collect that near leg, and by rolling to one’s back, the opponent is forced to follow and be reversed in the other direction.









SOUTH AMERICANA


For Eli Knight it is important to keep the opponent honest and on the defensive even when they are seemingly in the better position.  The South Americana is an example of an attack that is launched from an arguably inferior position, bottom side control.



STEP ONE:  CREATE THE NECESSARY SPACE


In this position, the opponent has prevented us from securing our frames and has secured a crossface, one of the most frustrating spots to find oneself in.


Eli recommends using the outside arm and bicep against the opponent’s head, accompanied by a strong bridge that will create a reaction where they will attempt to flatten one’s back to the mat.  As the opponent drives back into us, we drive strongly into the armpit, getting to the side.


STEP TWO:  SECURE THE WRIST AND TRAP THE ARM


From this position looking away from our opponents, Eli will trap the opponent’s wrist and create a reaction where they attempt to retract their arm.  Instead of allowing their arm to retract fully, he will trap it by using his top side leg to block the retreat.  This creates an opportunity to step over the wrist with the top leg, then cross the bottom ankle across the top leg’s ankle, trapping the opponent’s arm.


STEP THREE:  MUAY THAI STYLE PLUMB AND HIP ROTATION


To finish the South Americana, Eli will bring the bottom arm around the upper portion of the opponent’s head and gable grip their hands, pulling their head away from the trapped arm.  This further isolates the shoulder for the submission.  The finish comes as Eli rolls his hips to his back and beyond with the trapped arm between his legs, creating a great deal of pressure on their shoulders and forcing the tap.



CONCLUSION


With the help of Eli Knight hopefully you’ll change your mindset about being stuck in bottom side control.  By making our frames more active and refusing to let the opponent settle into a fully dominant position we can keep them guessing until we get them to make the mistakes we need to capitalize and reverse the position.  Worse case scenario, we can capitalize on their scramble and retain our guard.  


Remember the famous Billy Robinson quote that Eli Knight referenced in his Private Lesson “Close two doors and hide behind the third.”  By always looking to guide and trap your opponent, you will completely transform how you see the dreaded bottom side control position.

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