Getting Stuck In Side Control? How To Escape

The White Belt Nightmare!

If an instructor asks a class full of newer bjj students “Does anyone have any problems or questions?” it is certain that one of the white belts will sheepishly raise their hand in the air.

“I always get caught in side control and don’t know how to escape!”

This is by far the most common question for 1st year students.

There are 3 simple rules to escape side control, followed by the technique videos.

1) Bridge! Bridge! Bridge!
You need to create space and pushing until your arms are exhausted is not a solution.
A powerful back bridge will be your #1 tool to relive the top pressure from your opponent’s side control

2) Move Your Hips!
This should be stencilled on the ceiling of every jiu-jitsu academy. Flat on your back?
Remember those shrimp drills most academies perform in the warm up?
Start shrimping like Captain Highliner was chasing you with a net!
You need to create space between you and your opponent.

3) Keep your arms in a safe place defensively
Don’t grab onto your opponent without keeping your arms in a safe place.
There are many submission threats from side control and hiding your arms is your first line of submission defence.

The Videos:

The MOST IMPORTANT and FIRST side control escape that you need to learn!
Grapplearts Stephan Kesting and Emily Kwok show the best escape to start with.
“But he is too big!?!”
Emily shows how she does it against bigger grapplers.

Kurt Osiander – Escape from Side Control
Kurt shows safe arm position and how to escape to your knees and immediately look to reverse the situation with a double leg.
If your 1st escape is countered, switch to this as plan B.

read also on Jiu-jitsu Times: What Are You Working on?


  1. I believe the Master Helix Gracie quote was more closely related to being able to defend oneself in a street fight. If managing strikes isn’t part of the blue belt curriculum, you are probably don’t deserve a blue belt.


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