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Escaping Side Control with John Danaher

Escaping Side Control with John Danaher

Over the past several months we’ve been exposed to John Danaher’s ideas and methods on some of the more effective and highly applicable positions in BJJ.

His teaching has opened the eyes of many, as his systematic approach to each particular position or submission has breathed new life into the methods we all previously subscribed to.

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Danaher comes in at a scientific level, and sheds light on the intricacies of important mechanics within these positions. The light bulb moments have been many, at least in my own experience, and I’m picking up a lot of ideas that were previously off my own radar.

When I saw that Danaher had released a technique showcasing a side control escape in the gi, I was immediately intrigued. How does one the most prolific Coaches and practitioners of BJJ teach this basic technique? Watch and see.

Being in bottom side control can be very frustrating. If the top player has a high level of BJJ proficiency, your time there can be very uncomfortable. When we’re in a side control scenario with nothing going for us, we’ll need a way to unwind what’s been done.

One of the things I enjoy most about this video, is that it begins from the other end. Danaher begins with an experiment that helps get the point across about what were attempting to achieve on the bottom.

As Danaher explains, the top player in side control can take comfort in the fact that they are treated to a great deal of stability in the position. Much different than the mount for example. Side to side motions can be easily curtailed with basic controls in top side.

Another advantage of top side control is the myriad ways someone is able to control the bottom player. There are many different rides to choose from, and as long as you don’t allow your partner to get parallel to you can continue to dominate the position however you choose. This will greatly influence the method of escape the bottom person will choose.

So, what are we fighting against on the bottom? Body weight? Strength?

Danaher describes what we’re dealing with as a series of wedges. In a quick experiment he puts 100% of his bodyweight on his training partner. With some basic movements, his partner is very easily able to put Danaher right back in his guard.

With a wedge under the back, at the head, and near the hip, Danaher is able to apply zero body weight to his partner and achieve a shockingly different effect. So, bodyweight and strength aren’t key elements of good control, they simply aid in the formation of stronger wedges.

So how doe we escape side control? We must get inside these wedges and incrementally work back to more favorable positions.

As far as side control is concerned, Danaher begins in a rock bottom position. With his partner tight to him, and his arms behind his partner, he is vulnerable here, particular to upper body submissions, as well as being at risk of his partner attempting to mount.

With zero inside position, Danaher must work to unwind what has been done. He begins with inserting a frame in the hip area, which he believes to be quite simple. If there is space for him to insert a frame here, he does just that. If his partner is too tight for him to place the frame, he simply moves away from his partner slightly, creating room for his elbow to enter, and achieves the frame. Once he’s found a home for the first frame, its time for Danaher to begin joining his inside elbow and knee together. To do this he makes incremental movements at the hips, scooting away until his knee can penetrate to the inseide space between him and his artner. His first frame at the hip, ensures his partner cannot close the gap as Danaher continues to create this space.

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Danaher has now established a “V” shaped frame that will mitigate his partners pressure and attempts to mount. This framework does a fantastic job of topping the progression of offense from top side control.

Danaher now joins his feet and gives a push, creating even more distance between him and his partner. He’s careful to keep an eye on his partners top arm to stop the cross face, using his hand to over hook his partners bicep and once again dominate the inside space. He then shifts his hips, bringing his knee to the inside, and aligning himself with his partner.

From this position Danaher acquires two under hooks and uses his butter fly hooks to shift his partner forward as he comes up to a seated position and looks to begin mounting his offense. Resist the urge to come up too early, as this allow your opponents to drive you back to the mat. Get underneath and inside before you attempt to come up!

This is probably the most important side control escape in the game. Danaher begins with nothing and shows us how to completely unwind the position. The information here is incredibly valuable, and in some manner, probably every escape from side control will contain many of the ingredients laid out for us here.

Learning to escape side control is something we all encounter during our time in BJJ, but the systematic approach here is easy to follow and very straight forward. I’m looking forward to seeing more of what Danaher has to offer in the gi!

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