I think side control is severely unused. You might think I’m crazy for saying that, since most BJJ instructors probably spend at least half their time teaching techniques that start or end in side control one way or the other. But almost all of them seem to focus their efforts on how to get to mount from there, which is only half the game.
One of the position’s greatest strengths is that it forces your opponent to carry your weight, wearing them down—which is huge, both in sport jiu-jitsu and in the street. And there are a lot of ways to submit an opponent from side control, too.
If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I tend to think about positions differently than most BJJ practitioners, because I like to keep techniques current and relevant. And side control is no exception. So here are six secrets to maintaining and capitalizing on side control that most instructors aren’t talking about.
Let’s get started, shall we?
1. Get Far Away From the Legs.
A lot of people, when their opponent shrimps toward them or otherwise starts to inch their legs in, block the hips but don’t move their feet. Get your feet away from their legs! The legs are where the guard is. So if you get really far away from your opponent’s legs, you don’t have to worry about getting caught in half guard or full guard.
2. Repeat After Me: Knees on the Ground Slow You Down.
Many people complain about not being able to move quickly in #1 above. That’s because they’re being lazy. Get your knees off the ground. This puts more of your weight onto your opponent, making it harder for them to move, and it gives you fewer points of contact with the ground, making it easier for you to move. It also opens up different types of side mounts that you’re able to do.
3. Don’t look at me.
When utilizing a cross face for head control, use the tip of your shoulder to force your opponent to look away from your hips. If they can look at their hips, they can get back to guard. If they can get back to guard, they can break your arm. If they break your arm, it makes it hard to eat your food. If it’s hard to eat your food, you might starve.
Don’t let them starve you, tell them “Don’t look at me!”
4. Get acquainted with side mount logic.
Side mount logic means you use different side mounts for different reasons. And there are almost as many different side mounts as there are guards. Figure out which side mount works best for you, then figure out that side mount’s weakness, then figure out which side mount you can ditch that one for when your partner exposes the weakness of that particular side mount.
5. Shrimping is easy.
Most people shrimp incorrectly because most instructors teach it incorrectly for the sake of drilling. I’ve even seen high level black belts teach shrimping incorrectly and then do it correctly—because they’re teaching it the way they were taught, but doing it the way they’ve learned, through experience, actually works.
So how do you do it? First, get all the way up on your side, and no matter how much you think you’re on your side, keep going. Keep going until you feel like you’re too far, that’s when you’re up on your side enough. Second, don’t straighten your arms—straight arms get broken; that’s an arm bar waiting to happen. Step your top foot over your bottom ankle, so that your top foot is always connected to the ground. This gives you more strength, more control, and it gives you the ability to change your mind and go back if you want.
6. You don’t have to be married to one side.
If side mount on one side of the body is not working out for you, just leave. Learn the switch and get it on the other side. Back-takes are common when switching sides. You can either go around and over their head or you can go around and over their legs. Of course, going toward the head is the easier way to go, because the other direction you could get caught in guard (which brings us back to 1). While there are fine details to making either one of these happen, just starting to do these will change your game.
These tips work no matter what kind of side control you’re doing—classico, 100 kilos, kasa-gatame, reverse kasa, knee on belly, or whatever. Learn them and love them, and your ability to dominate your opponents from the top will explode.
These secrets NEED to be shared. Pass it on!