Struggling To Escape Side Control? Then You Need To Check Out Professor Brent Littell’s Video

Probably the most common problem for first and second year BJJ students is getting stuck under side control after their guard is passed.

Luckily, 10th Planet and Gracie Barra black belt instructor Brent Littell has some advice for those students on escaping this difficult position.

The Jiu-Jitsu Times Spoke to Professor Littell about side control. Here is what he had to say. The following interview has been edited slightly for clarity.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: Professor Brent, what do you say when one of your students approaches you with the problem of getting stuck underneath side control? Why is this such a common problem?

Brent Littell: The first thing I tell them to do is to relax and find their frames. Before any escape can occur, frames have to be put in place. To do so, the person on bottom has to identify what type of side control they are in and the appropriate frames for that type of side control. If the person on bottom only looks to use one type of frame for all types of situations, then they will be in trouble. This is why side control bottom is such a common problem for the beginning student.

Many students have a one-size-fits-all approach to escaping side control, which is to shrimp. Yes, shrimping is a major part of the escape process, but without knowing what direction and what frame to use in addition to the shrimping, they are just wasting energy. That is what is so different about my instructional. My first order of business is to help the beginning students identify the position they are in so they can see whether the traditional shrimping will work or if they will need to use a separate type of escape or frame.

JJT: How is your strategy of escaping side control different than what might be commonly taught in most BJJ schools? Is there a shortcoming in the way most students learn to escape side control?

BL: My strategy for escaping side control is a little different because I look at side control as a situation where things have gone completely wrong. Many times when we are taught side control escapes, it starts with our frames in already. However, during sparring, when people pass our guards, sometimes our frames aren’t even in. Sometimes our arms are stuck in positions we don’t want them to be stuck in. Sometimes we can’t get in the traditional frame of arm underneath the neck or arm against the hip. So I take a look at all of these worst case scenarios and teach them how to get into the best case scenarios from there by using the frames they are given.

As part of that, I am teaching the identification process. Not all side control positions are the same. Where are my arms? Where are my opponents arms? Where are his hips?” Once we learn to identify where our appendages are and our opponents’ are, we can start working the right escape. If not, we are like a rudderless boat with our sails up in a storm.

JJT: Can you explain your concepts of combining escapes and how escaping is dynamic?

BL: I love this question because it gets to the heart of the matter. No one is static when attacking us. I’ll say it again: no one is static when attacking us. I may start on bottom in a head and arm side control, but by the time I begin framing, my opponent switches to a modified kesa gatame to avoid the shrimp escape. So, now I need to switch my frames and my angles because the escape for the first position does not work for the second position. If you don’t understand this, then you are using the old “one size fits all” escape approach and expending way to much energy.

My goal for people watching my instructional is for them to adapt a four step process.

First, they identify what type of side control they are in.
Second, they identify the proper frames for that type of side control.
Third, they use the correct escape with those frames,
Fourth, they stay dynamic during this process: meaning, they understand their frames and escapes will have to change in the process as their opponent reacts to their movement. Without this approach, people are doomed to be using way too much energy and explosiveness

JJT: If someone is interested in learning more about your techniques for side control escapes, where can you point them?

BL: You can check it out here .


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