side control escape

Master the Art of Jiu-Jitsu Side Control Escape With This Guide

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), side control is a dominant position where one practitioner establishes control over their opponent by pinning them on their side while maintaining chest-to-chest contact. The person in side control can control their opponent’s movements, apply submissions, and transition to more dominant positions.

Mastering side control escapes is crucial for any BJJ practitioner, regardless of skill level. Being stuck in side control can be frustrating and lead to various disadvantages, including being vulnerable to submissions, strikes, or positional control. 

By developing effective side control escapes, you can regain control, neutralize your opponent’s attacks, and set up your own offensive opportunities.

Side control is a top dominant position in BJJ where the practitioner establishes control over their opponent by pinning them on their side, typically with their chest pressed against the opponent’s chest.

The top practitioner’s legs are usually positioned at an angle, with one leg controlling the hips and the other providing stability and control.

In side control, the top practitioner has numerous advantages. They can apply pressure and control the bottom practitioner’s movements, limiting their options for escape. The top practitioner can also transition to various submissions such as chokes, arm, and shoulder locks. 

It is a position of control that allows the top practitioner to dictate the flow of the match.

side control escape

Key goals for the person in side control

The primary goal for the person in side control is to maintain control over their opponent while seeking opportunities to submit or transition to more dominant positions. 

The top practitioner aims to immobilize the bottom practitioner’s hips, limit mobility, and exploit any openings to attack or advance their position.

Additionally, the top practitioner seeks to control the bottom practitioner’s arms and isolate them from the defense of their own body. By achieving and maintaining control, the person in side control can effectively neutralize their opponent’s offense and maintain a dominant position.

Common Side Control Escape Challenges

The person on the bottom in side control faces several challenges. First, they are trapped and restricted in their movement, making it difficult to escape or regain guard. The pressure and weight from the top practitioner can be overwhelming, making it challenging to create space or find escape openings.


Furthermore, the person on the bottom must constantly defend against submissions and attacks while attempting to regain control. Their limited mobility and compromised defensive options make it crucial to maintain composure, stay calm, and employ effective techniques to escape side control.


Common challenges include:

  • Preventing the top practitioner from solidifying their control.
  • Avoiding submission attempts.
  • Finding opportunities to create space for escape.

It requires technical knowledge, timing, and strategic execution to overcome these challenges and escape the side control position successfully.

Essential Concepts for BJJ Side Control Escapes

Establishing frames against your opponent’s pressure is essential when trapped in side control. Frames are structural barriers created by positioning your arms and elbows between you and your opponent. These frames provide leverage, create space, and prevent your opponent from fully controlling your body.

By utilizing frames effectively, you can create space to execute escapes. Place your arms and elbows strategically to push against your opponent’s body, creating a barrier that prevents them from closing the distance or maintaining tight control. This allows you to create opportunities for movement and escape.

Using frames to create space for escapes

Once you establish frames, the next step is to use them to create space. Push against your opponent with your shelves to create a slight opening. This space is vital for executing hip escapes (shrimping) and regaining guard.

By applying pressure against your opponent with your frames, you can generate the necessary leverage to create gaps and openings. This space allows your hips to move and facilitates the execution of escapes. The more space you can create, the more options you will have to escape side control effectively.

Maintaining effective hip movement during escapes

Proper hip movement is crucial for successful side control escapes. Hip escapes, also known as shrimping, involve using your hips to create distance and an angle that allows you to escape. Focus on shifting your hips away from your opponent, creating a wedge, and creating space to regain guard or transition to a more favorable position.

Maintaining fluid and controlled hip movement is crucial in executing effective escapes. Your hips should be actively engaged in creating movement and generating power. Practice drills targeting hip mobility and strengthening to improve hip movement during escapes.

Regaining Guard from Side Control

To recover guard from side control, timing, and technique are essential. As your opponent applies side control pressure, focus on creating a brief moment of space to initiate the recovery. As they transition or attempt to stabilize their position, quickly insert your knee between you and your opponent, effectively establishing a knee shield.

Simultaneously, use your underhook to control your opponent’s arm on the same side as your inserted knee. This underhook will help you maintain control and disrupt your opponent’s balance, allowing you to begin recovering your guard.

side control escape

Utilizing underhook and knee shield to establish guard

The underhook and knee shield are vital to regaining guard from side control. The underhook controls your opponent’s arm, limiting their ability to attack or maintain control. It also allows you to disrupt their base and stability, creating opportunities to escape and regain guard.

The knee shield is a barrier between you and your opponent, preventing them from maintaining a tight side control position. It creates space and distance, enabling you to recover your guard and transition to a more favorable position. Combining the underhook and knee shield establishes control and creates escape openings.

Strategic Approaches to Side Control Escape

Timing and anticipation play a crucial role in executing successful side control escapes. By recognizing and exploiting transitional moments, you can capitalize on your opponent’s movements and create opportunities for escape.

Recognizing and exploiting transitional moments for escapes

During transitions between positions or submission attempts, your opponent’s control and pressure may momentarily loosen. These transitional moments provide escape openings. Stay alert and look for opportunities to execute your escapes when your opponent adjusts their position or focuses on their next move.

Importance of reading the opponent's movements and reactions

Reading your opponent’s movements and reactions is vital to anticipating their subsequent actions and planning your escape accordingly. Please pay attention to their weight distribution, hand placement, and shifts in body position. This information will help you anticipate their next move and choose the most appropriate escape technique.

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Mastering side control escapes an essential skill in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) that empowers practitioners to regain control and turn the tide of a match. Throughout this article, we have explored various aspects of escaping side control, including understanding the position, essential concepts, techniques, strategic approaches, common mistakes, and troubleshooting.

Side control is a dominant position where the top practitioner aims to immobilize and control their opponent. However, with a solid understanding of the side control position, its characteristics, and the goals and challenges faced by the person on the bottom, you can begin to formulate effective escape strategies.

To truly master side control escapes consistent practice and drilling are necessary. You can improve your timing, technique, and proficiency in running side control by incorporating specific drills into your training regimen and dedicating time to honing your skills.

Remember, escaping side control is not always easy and requires patience, determination, and adaptability. Embrace the learning process, remain focused on improving your skills, and seek guidance from experienced instructors or training partners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are some effective side control escape techniques in BJJ? 

A: There are several effective side control escape techniques in BJJ, including the elbow escape, trap and roll escape, and regaining guard. Each technique utilizes different principles and movements to create space and regain a more favorable position. Practicing and exploring various escape techniques is essential to find what works best for your style and body type.

Q: How can I improve my timing for side control escapes? 

A: Improving your timing for side control escapes requires practice and experience. One way to enhance your timing is to drill specific escape techniques repeatedly, focusing on executing them precisely and quickly. Additionally, actively spar and roll with training partners, paying attention to their movements and reactions. Over time, you’ll better understand when to initiate your escapes based on your opponent’s actions.

Q: What should I do if my opponent has heavy pressure in side control and I’m having difficulty escaping? 

A: When facing heavy pressure in side control, remaining calm and composed is crucial. Focus on establishing strong frames using your arms and elbows to create space. Additionally, use your breath to relax and conserve energy. Work on hip movement to shift your body and create angles that disrupt your opponent’s pressure. Practicing escapes against strong and heavy opponents can help you develop the necessary techniques and strategies to deal with heavy pressure.

Q: How can I prevent my opponent from transitioning to a more dominant position during my escape attempts? 

A: Preventing your opponent from transitioning to a more dominant position requires active awareness and control. While executing your escape, maintain control of your opponent’s arms, limiting their ability to establish a stronger position. Focus on maintaining your frames and using your legs and hips to create space. By anticipating your opponent’s movements and keeping continuous pressure and control, you can minimize their chances of transitioning to a more dominant position.

Q: Should I focus on proactive or reactive approaches to side control escapes? 

A: Both proactive and reactive approaches have their merits, and the choice depends on the situation and your style. Proactive escapes involve initiating movement and creating opportunities for escape before your opponent fully establishes control. Reactive escapes, on the other hand, capitalize on your opponent’s movements and create counter opportunities. It’s beneficial to practice and be comfortable with both approaches, as they provide different options depending on the specific circumstances of the match.

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