ESCAPING SIDE CONTROL BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a Martial Art that involves high elements of technical proficiency. This extremely diverse ground fighting art utilises a broad range of transitional movements, highly advanced technical systems, a large array of submission attacks, and formidable defense systems that include submission defense, and positional escapes.
What this article covers:
- What Is the Side Control Position
- Escaping Side Control to The Guard
- Side Control Escapes Into Other Control Positions
There are many different control positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, with some more dominant than others. The back control, and the mount are the two most dominant control positions in the game, while side control, the knee ride, kesa gatame, the north south position, and the turtle are not as dominant, but still have comprehensive control aspects.
The side control position is an extremely versatile position, which has the largest platform of different attacks. From this position a practitioner can launch almost every submission in the arsenal, and even a high range of transitions that can lead into every other position in the game. The downside to such a versatile position is that an opponent may find it easier to escape from this position. This is because there is no control system clamping down the legs, and all an athlete can do is use a heavy cross face over the neck, and apply pressure to the sternum. This will allow an opportunity for an opponent to be able to escape their hips, and use slick maneuvers to escape from this position in search of more dominant controls.
WHAT IS THE SIDE CONTROL POSITION
The side control position is one of the transitional control aspects that can link a guard pass to the mount. There are different ways to control an opponent in the side control position, with the most common way being a practitioner will utilise a cross face, and a far side under hook, while their hips will block their opponent’s hip. A cross face is when an athlete threads their forearm underneath the neck of an opponent, while their shoulder puts pressure into their face. This can be a heavy control, especially when combined with a far side under hook, as the athlete will reach under the far arm of their opponent, while linking their hands together. There are different ways to control the side control position, as an athlete can either use their knee to block the hip, while shooting their other leg backwards, or they can dip their hip into their opponent's hip, as they shoot both legs backwards standing on the balls of their feet, while using a doorstop instead of a far side under hook which is basically just a forearm blocking the near hip of the opponent.
The whole point of a side control position is to stop an opponent from turning onto their side, and being able to thread their legs back into a half guard position, or a full guard position. Having a strong side control can be extremely brutal, especially if an athlete uses extreme pressure through their shoulder into the face, while looking to pressure into the abdomen of their opponent. This position is an easy transitional place for athletes to move into the knee ride, or move around to the north south position. These are great platforms to launch into different Gi chokes, guillotine chokes, darce chokes, or arm bar, and kimura submissions. The side control position is also a great place that an athlete can access different transitional components like a gift wrap, or a back take.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATING SPACE
The fundamental principle of trying to escape from any position is to create space. Any athlete that is trapped on the bottom of an opponent that is using heavy pressure, whether they are heavier, stronger, or just good at dropping their weight, the concept of creating space is a crucial one. All dominant positions will take away the space of an athlete, rendering them stuck in a position where they may feel stifled, suffocated, or unable to move. Creating space is the only realistic way of escaping from any dominant control position, this includes mount escapes, and bjj back escapes. The most important aspect of creating space is to use a framework, and this means to use an athlete's forearms, and shin bones as a way to create distance between themselves, and their opponent.
Once the athlete has begun to create some space using their frames, this will enable them to turn onto their side, so they can escape their hips. This is a crucial element in trying to escape from any dominant control position. Using any guard retention techniques is vital, not only for the survivability of an athlete, but for the advancement of moving out of a bad position, and into a position where they can launch an attack from. Bridging is another way to create space, which is the act of lifting an athlete's hips up off the mat, which can create space underneath them. This will enable an athlete to do things like thread their arms underneath an opponent, as they drop down from their bridging technique. A bridge will also allow an athlete to gain enough leverage to simply roll their opponent over.
ESCAPING SIDE CONTROL TO THE GUARD
The most common side control escape is called the elbow escape, and this technique is one of the fundamental escapes from the side control, or the mount position. This technique involves an athlete to create space by using their forearm wedged underneath their opponent's chin, and their other hand pushing off of their hip. From here they can create enough space to turn onto their side, before sliding their bottom knee into the hip of their opponent. The top leg will slide over the top of their opponent's leg, and hooking it, before threading their bottom leg through into a half guard position. This can be a good platform to attack from, but the athlete can also go even further and square up their hips before threading their leg around the waist, and securing the closed guard. Even though this is a good side control escape, it is more of a defensive measure, as the athlete can be more attacking, and instead of finding the closed guard they can hip escape, sliding straight into an open guard, where they can attempt sweeps or submission attacks.
Another good system of escaping side control, and retaining some form of guard, or sweeping mechanism begins with attacking the cross face arm. When an athlete is stuck underneath a cross face they will use their arm that is on the same side as the cross face to cup into the elbow, and secure a grip. Their other hand will move from being underneath the chin, to create an under hook, and this is as easy as a bridge of the hips. This is a great position to start to attack the guard, as they can simply use their frames to turn onto their side, and slot in an easy half guard position. From this position they can use their knees to trap their opponents arm, and no matter which way they move, even if they bring their arm back across to the other side of the hip, the athlete will simply escape, and use their shin inside of the arm to create enough leverage to trap the arm back into the control position. This is a highly uncomfortable position for the top game player, and is a great way to secure the half guard from being stuck underneath a side control position.
SIDE CONTROL ESCAPES INTO OTHER CONTROL POSITIONS
Escaping from the side control position, and moving into other dominant positions can be a great way to turn the tables on an opponent. Because an athlete's hips, and legs are free from being trapped, it can be quite easy to move from this position into a more dominant one. An easy maneuver from underneath a side control position is to attack the dead spot. This means that an athlete will secure an over hook, because their opponent already has the under hook, so clamping down over the top of their arm is quite easy. The next step is to use the bridge of their hips to push up into the air, so that the athlete can create enough space for their opposite hand to come underneath the belly, as they drop their weight down. From here the hand will reach up either around the back of their opponent, or up towards the neck. The athlete can now walk their legs up towards the head of their opponent, which will create a dead spot, and give the athlete an easy roll over sweep, moving them straight into a side control position. A more advanced opponent will not allow this kind of maneuver to happen, but to many athletes, they will not see it coming.
Another highly effective transition from underneath the side control position is to go for the great escape. This is a transitional escape that allows an opponent to jump straight into a back control position in the most highly unique way. The first step is to create space, and bait the opponent into moving into the north south position. As the opponent begins to move into the control position, the athlete will shoot both of their arms over the top of their opponents shoulders, trapping their arms, as they reach through and grab the belt, or a grip around the hips. From here the athlete will need to push into the hips of their opponent, as far back as they possibly can, which will allow enough space for the athlete to invert their hips, shooting their legs over the back and securing two hooks, before freeing their head and taking a back control position. Even though this technique looks like it requires an athlete to be extremely flexible, it is more about moving the opponent enough to create space, which is all about creating the right angle.
ESCAPING FROM SIDE CONTROL STRAIGHT INTO A SUBMISSION
One of the most dynamic submissions from being stuck underneath a side control is a ghost escape to a darce choke. This transition is extremely fun to try on an opponent, as they will struggle to even hold a side control position on an athlete. This technique begins with an athlete securing an over hook, before bridging their hips up high so that their other hand can find space underneath the belly of their opponent. From here they will reach back as far as they can over the back of their opponent, before turning onto the shoulder of the hand that has the over hook. This movement becomes hard to stop, and halfway through the escape the athlete's hand that has reached over the back will simply scoop the head, before shooting their other hand up to the other side of the neck. As the athlete's head clears the other side of their body, they can reach their arm over the head, before cupping the bicep, and trapping the tricep with their chest. This will create an extremely tight darce choke, and one that the opponent never really saw coming.
Another really effective submission from being stuck underneath a side control is a crucifix choke. Now this submission takes a lot more athleticism, and can be extremely difficult against an extremely heavy opponent. All the athlete needs to do is use their frame to wedge underneath the chin of the opponent, before having both arms cleared to the side. From here they will take a double wrist control, pushing the arm up towards the middle of their back. Now the athlete can use the dexterity in their hips to push that hand, and lock it up between their legs, which will come from the other side of the body into either a hook, or a triangle position. This is a good sweep that will also give the athlete a crucifix position, where they can lock up both arms and look to pull off an easy arm bar submission, or a crucifix choke hold.
Another successful series of movements is when an opponent tries to transition from the side control into the kesa gatame, or the scarf hold. From this position the opponent will feel like they are having a more dominant control, where the athlete can then look to sit up and simply try to roll them over. What will commonly happen is the opponent will look to move back to a traditional side control position, but the athlete will continue to trap the neck by shooting their arm over, and grabbing hold of their own leg into basically a scarf hold position from the bottom. This will allow the athlete to use their momentum to roll their opponent over, which will commonly force a reaction in their opponent to base out with their trapped arm. Now that the opponent has posted off the mat, the athlete will hook under the arm with their legs, creating a figure four lock, before securing an americana with their legs. If the athlete loses the americana, they can simply push the head and slot their leg over into a reverse triangle submission. This can be an extremely effective series of movements, which will have an opponent stuck in one of a few different submissions.
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