Tuesday, June 1, 2010

escaping side control

On Monday, side control escapes were the theme.

We had a medium sized class of mixed levels, and I ended up with a fairly new guy. He's still apologising for all sorts of things, but I'm working on him ;-). He made a real effort and listened to me when I helped him. Good to work with.

Starting in short base side control, the first escape began with a hip bump into his knee, so I could get my lower elbow past his hip and against my body. That was followed by a bridge to make the space to bring my arm out on his far hip. Now I had both arms on his far side, sort of like a forklift. Next move was another hard bridge and a slight twist towards him. It moved him up a bit and me out from under him, so that I could "see the light" on his far side. Holding on to his arm, I had to spin around towards his head, ending up face down while holding his upper arm. It was necessary to keep pressure on his shoulder, and we ended up with him turtled and myself nearly front on, with my arm still inserted under his. From here it was easy to go for a collar choke or a head arm choke.

Next scenario was if the top person switches out their legs before I could bump them forward and escape out their far side. Switched out, he is well based to the front, but has nothing at hisback, so could I sit up. I found I needed to raise my legs up, and then kick out or swing them back down, to get a pendulum effect. Also, I needed to brace out on one arm. But once I started, it was easy to tip him over all the way and end up with me in side control top.

Another option from that switchback scenario: if my arm (the one near his hips) didn't end up on his far side, and was in danger of getting attacked, I reached over his back and made a gable grip with the other hand. Then I walked into him, pinned him to me and swept him over. Very much like the headlock escape.

We played with this a little, changing from getting the arm through or not, and from the top person staying in side contol to going to switchback.

Lastly, we revisited a sidecontrol escape which John Will had taught us at a seminar last year. I didn't "get it" at the time, but this time, it made sense and I think it would work for me, excepting maybe with a really big guy. This one is useful where the top guy has his elbow against your head, and your top arm is trapped outside (you couldn't get your elbow wedged against his hip). Say he is positioned with his head on my left side. I had to reach over my head with my exposed right arm, and grab his gi near his left elbow. Then I had to bridge up and to my left, punching his elbow as far away from me as I could, while I roll onto my left side. As he pulled his arm back in, I needed to get my left arm under me so I could roll to my right and end up face down under him. The tricky part was to get my right arm around his right arm. But after the bridge, there was a lot of space to get my arm in. Ideally, I wanted my left arm between his legs, cupping his left thigh. Last step: looking left towards his feet, I got to my knees, and raising my butt, I rolled towards my right shoulder (that's why it was important to look to the left). As I became a "hill", he rolled off. As I rolled over, I still had hold of his right arm, and could attack it with several techniques, for example a figure four.

It really was great to revisit that escape. It's fairly technical, but you end up in a good attacking position, and it's not a sweep anyone expects.

We did a few minutes of wrestling, for which I had the same partner. I pulled guard to work on my attacks from guard. I still didn't feel my usual self, too stiff and too tired to do much, so when he made a good attempt at a guard pass, I didn't fight it too much. That was as much because I was tired as it was to let him work a bit :-). But I managed a couple of sweeps, one from half guard, one from guard. And he managed a textbook escape from side control like we had just drilled. So that was excellent and I didn't fail to tell him that.

For part of the night I scored the job of being demo grappling dummy. All in all a good evening, and those escapes certainly are pretty useful.


  1. Great post. Side control is one of the hardest positions for me to escape. I hate it worse than mount. A lot of times, I have to fake one escape and quick go for another one just to get the person off balance enough to either make space and get my knees and elbows in or to take them over.

  2. Thanks for this post. Side control is a huge problem position and your breakdown is great.

  3. I used to have a lot of problems, too. One of the most important "discoveries" for me was 1. sucking in the elbow near their hip so I could use it to block their hip or try to get it all the way out the other side to help lift them. And 2. move the hips. Hip escape, hip escape.

    Which escape you finally use depends so much on where your arms end up. But if you can get on one side in conjunction with a hip escape, they no longer pin your shoulders. That makse their crushing weight more bearable and you can start working. Faking one to go for another works well, too. Yes, a little space and you can get elbows in and their weight off.

    If all else fails, you might be able to get a knee in and go for half guard. And while they fight your leg, they loosen around your top. I sometimes hunt for a figure four while they are distracted, and when they defend that, I try for full guard or a sweep from half guard.

    If you can avoid getting pinned flat to the floor in the first place, by escaping AS they pass your guard, you are on your way. If you get pinned flat, then first get to a good defensive posture (I think that's what Roy Harris called it), and then work your escapes. It works for me, anyway.

    Be sure to learn the escapes from switch back side control, too, as people often change to that if you try escaping.

    Anyway, glad you got something out of my post. Happy escaping :-)