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Make A Clean Getaway from Bottom Side Control with Travis Stevens

Make A Clean Getaway from Bottom Side Control with Travis Stevens


Escaping side control is another classic foundational concept of BJJ.

It can’t be skipped. You will inevitably end up there. Being on the bottom, when someone understands where to put their weight can be incredibly uncomfortable, and it may feel like your underneath a dump truck if we add some size to skill level.

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We’d all like to say that as we’re getting our guard passed, or as someone is getting the upper hand, we have our defenses ready, and we thwart their efforts of settling in in top side control. Of course, this won't always be the case. We need contingency plans for these types of scenarios.

There are many concepts for escape, and I’d venture to say that most of them include a solid understanding of framing. Moving the top player isn’t always an option. Many times, we will have to put frames in place, and remove ourselves from the situation. This applies even more to smaller practitioners. If you’re stuck under someone twice your size, you’ll need to create a series of wedges to begin removing yourself.

When I first began learning how to escape side control, it consisted of mainly hip escaping, turning back in to the top player, and reestablishing some form of guard. But as time went on, I discovered other methods of sneaking out, that included turning away from my partner, among other concepts.

Regardless of your size, you’ll need sound mechanical principles if you hope to make an exit from bottom side control. No matter how big you are, it’s likely that you’ll eventually run in to someone bigger, stronger, and more skilled than you. And if you are on the smaller end of the spectrum, you have no choice but to study the position and develop mechanically efficient methods of escape based on leverage.

Travis Stevens has some ideas for us on how to negotiate being in this unfavorable position. In this video Stevens demonstrates three of his favorite variations that he uses to deal with and escape bottom side control. There are some great nuggets of information here, so do yourself a favor and watch the video to its completion. Have a look!

Stevens begins in what is probably the worst form of side control that you could ever possibly find yourself in. He has both of his arms behind his partner. Here, there are zero frames established, and his partner is fully connected to him. He reminds us that we should never get here, but of course this is easier said than done, especially if you’re a beginner.

Stevens first order of business is to enter a frame in to the mix. He does this by cupping his partner’s head near the ear and performing a solid bridge which he uses to get his partners head to the opposite side of his own. This creates enough space for Stevens to insert a frame in his partner’s bottom hip, and begin to walk away, which now opens the space for the top frame to enter. With two frames in place< Stevens can now bring his knees and feet back in to the space he’s created and begin to reconstruct any guard he chooses.

In the second variation, Stevens already has two frames in place. One at the hip and one at the shoulders. Again, he employs a very strong bridge to create some room, but this time he swims his top frame under the armpit of his partners cross face arm, and then allows his partner to settle back in. With everything now in place, Stevens hits another strong bridge and swims his top from through to an under hook. As he’s working for the under hook, he shrinks himself down south toward his partners legs, where he can switch his base and acquire a tight hug on the leg and proceed however, he chooses to do so.

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This third option is pretty unique, and seems super applicable. With his frames in place once again, and some pressure from the top player, Stevens begins to sweep his hips out to the side and starts to entice his partner to move to the north south position. As his partner begins to switch his ride to accommodate for the new position, Stevens swims his hand to the inside of his partners armpit once again, guiding his partner’s hand away from him. This creates the room that Stevens needs to get to his side, extend his body and reach for a lace on his partners shin. (Be sure to keep the bottom hand in place to block any choking attempts from the top partner).

It may look like Stevens is headed for a belly down position and would hope to come up to the knees to complete some type of take down, but this isn’t the case. He stays on his side and continues to walk toward his partners laced leg. When he gets perpendicular to his partner, he steps over the laced leg with his top leg and captures it, establishing a form of half guard. Again, from here the options are more than plentiful, and Stevens can move forward in a variety of ways.

I really like that Stevens chose to begin from a position where he has nothing. He works from the bottom up, acquiring frames, and little by little improving his position until he returns to one of dominance. I believe its very important to drill your side control escapes this way, as it allows us to go from the worst possible position to a good or great one. These concepts could all easily be applied to a more transitional setting also, where the top player has not yet settled in, and we’ve managed to stay ahead of the game. Give these ideas some mat time, and see if they bring some value to your escape game!

Travis Stevens has joined forces with BJJ Fanatics to create his Fundamentals and Concepts series that is designed to help streamline and speed up the learning process as you train jiu jitsu.  You can get your copy here today!



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