March 21, 2024

Escape Side Control like a Pro: BJJ Techniques for Beginners

Mastering Side Control Escapes in BJJ: Essential Techniques for Beginners

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a grappling art where controlling an opponent and defending against their control are fundamental. One of the most challenging positions to escape from is side control, where your opponent pins you on the ground, limiting your movement. However, with the right techniques and strategies, escaping side control is possible, even for beginners. This post will guide you through essential BJJ techniques to turn the tables from a disadvantageous position.

Understanding Side Control

In BJJ, side control is a dominant position where your opponent has bypassed your legs and is controlling your torso, often applying pressure to make movement difficult. The key to escaping this position is preventing the opponent from establishing a strong crossface, which they use to flatten you on the mat and increase control.

The Importance of Blocking the Crossface

The first line of defense in side control is to block the crossface. Your opponent will attempt to place their arm across your face to turn your head away, increasing their control and pressure. To counter this, you need to employ the "goose neck" grip on their bicep closest to your head. This grip involves extending your hand, thumb up, and wrapping it around their bicep, creating a strong barrier that prevents them from completing the crossface.

Executing the Heisman Escape

Named after the trophy pose, the Heisman escape starts with the goose neck grip. When your opponent tries to solidify their control, switch your grip to a C-clamp (hand shaped like a C) and place it in their armpit. This action uses their momentum against them, allowing you to initiate a roll. The key here is to straighten your arm during the roll to create a frame that prevents them from re-establishing control. This escape can lead you back to a guard position, where you have more options to control the fight.

Leveraging Momentum and Position

A successful side control escape relies on timing and understanding the opponent’s intentions. As they move to strengthen their position, their momentum can be used against them. With the arm in their armpit (using the C-clamp grip), you follow their motion and use it to facilitate your escape. The goal is to create enough space to maneuver your body and potentially reset the position to something more favorable, like a guard.

Transitioning to Offensive Techniques

Escaping side control is not just about getting out of a bad position but also setting up potential offensive moves. Once you escape, you can immediately look for opportunities to apply submissions or regain a dominant position. Techniques like the D'arce choke or bread cutter choke can be executed during the transition from defense to offense. For instance, after escaping, you can hug the opponent’s bicep (normally a risky move) and use it to set up a D'arce choke by transitioning your grip to the back of their neck and completing the choke as you roll.


Escaping side control in BJJ requires a blend of defensive tactics and the ability to transition to offensive moves seamlessly. Beginners should focus on mastering the goose neck grip to prevent the crossface, understanding how to use the opponent’s momentum for escapes, and recognizing opportunities to transition into offensive positions. With practice and patience, these techniques will become second nature, enhancing your BJJ skills and allowing you to handle side control situations effectively.

Remember, the journey in BJJ is about continuous learning and improvement. Regular practice, drilling these escape techniques, and sparring will help you develop the intuition and reflexes necessary to escape side control and improve your overall game. Keep training, stay persistent, and enjoy the path of growth and mastery in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

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