11 ways to escape from side control without using force

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This week, the Renzo Gracie Online Academy functions as a powerful flashlight against the darkness that afflicts thousands of BJJ practitioners when they are on the bottom, getting squeezed under side control. Frightened, they can’t see safe paths to escape the pressure imposed by their opponents’ side control. But this week marks the end of that.

RGOA students will be learning extremely technical, efficient defenses, increasing their range of blocks, thinking rationally about each defensive mechanic and also about the opportunities for counter-attacks.

Week 4 of the RGOA program is organized thusly:

  • Eleven techniques of defense against side control.
  • Ouchi gari: the mechanic of taking down, attacking with one’s leg between the opponent’s legs.
  • Lifestyle: How to harmonize your life as a BJJ fighter with your life outside the gym and all the responsibilities that come with it.

Day 1: Monday

Lesson 1: Side control escape with a diagonal bridge

Your opponent has passed your guard and reached side control. Renzo Gracie teaches a way for you to escape from this situation by resorting to an extremely simple move — one you must practice whenever possible during warmup.

Lesson 2: Errors to avoid while defending against side control

Gregor Gracie teaches a basic way to restore guard when your opponent reaches side control and hugs your head, applying pressure. Gregor warns of multiple positioning mistakes you must avoid.

Lesson 3: Defense against side control with a swapped base

Gregor follows a similar dynamic to last video, but this time his opponent’s base is swapped, which requires some different adjustments to make the recovery possible. The logic, however, remains the same: opening up space between the fighters’ torsos and getting a knee in there.

Day 2: Tuesday

Lesson 4: Using the pummel to defend against the side control

Gregor Gracie tries to pummel his opponent with his left arm. This allows him to find space to move laterally and spin his body. Gregor gets out from under his opponent, controls his legs and inverts the position, landing on top.

Lesson 5: Defense against side control moving to the back

In case your opponent defends against the counter-attack shown by Gregor last video, here’s a very efficient variation that ends with you controlling their back.

Day 3: Wednesday

Lesson 6: Defense against side control moving to half-guard

Gregor Gracie again seeks the pummel with his left arm, but this time his opponent hugs him very tight, stopping him from opening up enough space to spin. But there is room to fish his opponent’s leg with the foot in the shape of a hook and close the half-guard.

Lesson 7: A variation on the defense against side control moving to half-guard

You follow the defensive moves shown last video, but, when it’s time to fish your opponent’s leg, they move away and avoid having their leg controlled. Gregor shows a pretty simple way to solve this problem, by capturing the leg with the hand that is free.

Lesson 8: Lifestyle — Seeking balance

How to harmonize your life as a BJJ fighter with your life outside the gym and all the responsibilities that come with it? Black-belt Bruno Fernandes has some good tips.

Day 4: Thursday

Lesson 9: Defense against the north-south moving to the single-leg

Today, Gregor Gracie considers the possibility of your opponent moving from side control to the north-south position. Gregor teaches how you must pre-empt their moves, and how you can counter-attack.

Lesson 10: Defense against the north-south with guard recovery

In case your opponent distributes their weight, blocking the counter-attack taught last video, Gregor shows a simple, safe way to spin your body and restore your guard.

Day 5: Friday

Lesson 11: Defense against side control turning one’s back

In case all options studied here reveal themselves useless in the situation you are facing in combat, Gregor demonstrates a more daring plan — one that sees you swiftly turning your back to your opponent, bending your body (legs over your head). That is how you’re going to find room to restore your guard with a sudden hip escape.

Lesson 12: Variation on the defense against side control turning one’s back

If his opponent distributes his weight effectively and manages to block the move shown last video, Gregor Gracie still succeeds in escaping from side control, pummeling one of his opponent’s arms and moving to the back.

Lesson 13: Ouchi gari

Like the osoto gari, the ouchi gari is an ashi waza technique. But, this time, you will attack with your leg between your opponent’s legs. Pay attention to an important detail that makes the takedown more potent.

Bonus – Documentary “Roger Gracie Legacy”.


Available to all students of the Renzo Gracie Online Academy (RGOA) starting Dec. 10, the documentary “Roger Gracie Legacy” unveils never-before-seen moments of preparation by Roger Gracie and Marcus Buchecha for the “fight of the century.”

Check out episodes of tension backstage at the Gracie Pro event, the concentration work alongside the coaches in the locker room, the refining of strategies, the words of motivation.

Narrated in first person by Roger Gracie, this documentary helps you understand what goes on inside the mind of an elite competitor before, during and after a big BJJ challenge.

And that’s it for week 04.

Keep it up!

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