The basics

I have trouble escaping from the bottom. I think it’s a pretty relatable problem. Your guard gets passed or you get swept and they take a pinning position. The whole notion of a pin is that it’s an easy way to hold someone prone. So last night we worked on alternate escapes.

There are two normal ways we escape side control:

  1. Reguard – everyone knows this one. Forearm to hip. Other arm pushing up on the gi or underhooking depending on the type of side control. Push and bridge to make space, shrimp in for the guard
  2. Submit – I learned a whole series in judo for this. I’ve never really seen a BJJ instructor show it (except online). If the arm is between your legs you set up the inverted triangle as a side control escape. That’s actually what my icon is on pretty much everything – me shooting an inverted triangle to escape side control. (You can see a bunch of other submission options which were in the series we did in judo here:

But, against a tight side control with the correct grips or that has trapped your arm in a different way it’s super hard to swim your arm for an underhook or make space. Wade provided an alternate way to reguard.

  1. Start in the traditional head and arm side control. This works well for the tight variation where they have a solid Gable grip and a lot of downward pressure which makes getting space very difficult. We’ll assume my right arm is on their hip and my left arm is trapped with my head.
  2. Remove the right arm from the hip and shoot it between their legs. People let you do this because they think they can trap the arm. Sometimes they will be able to, but not a lot of people are going to give up side control to switch to a low-percentage arm-lock.
  3. Grab the pants of the far leg (for no-gi underhook the ankle – you may have to overhook the knee to pull it close enough). Turn into them to get close. You want thigh to thigh contact (your right thigh and their right thigh).
  4. Turn in again, but this time straighten your arm to lift the far leg. Pass your right leg under and hook. You are now in a flattened out half-guard position (still not the best).
  5. Overhook with your left leg. This is necessary so they don’t escape when you let go with your right hook. From this point on, it’s really a half-guard to full guard drill, but w/e. You probably let go of their leg with your right hand by now, you can go ahead and put it back on their hip if you haven’t already. Alternately I’ll underhook their left leg (the one closest to my head) at this point to spread their legs a bit. This makes the next step easier for me.
  6. Pull your right knee up between their legs like you’re pulling it up to butterfly guard as you use it to push yourself back to make space. They’re now in what I can only describe as your half butterfly guard. Better than pinned and should be familiar from other guard recovery methods.

Next time I hope to work on mount. My bridge-and-roll is solid. My backdoor is passable if I can get them attacking. My toe-scoop and heel-scoop are terrible. Even when I do get to my side I can’t push the leg down enough to hook it.


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