Bottom-side to Guard

When i'm in the bottom of Side Mount i'm having a difficult time getting to guard. Virtually everyone in my school is a top player, and everyone's advice for the bottom of side mount is on getting to a top position, but i'd much rather be in guard.

Most specifically, i'd like some means of establishing close control against my opponent (i usually get head and arm on the arm closest to my head) while forcing guard (my game centers around moves that keep my opponent as close as possible, eg., i am always seeking a super tight rubber guard).

At this point, i can ALWAYS establish a strong control, but then both of my arms are occupied so its hard to work with just my legs against same skilled opponents. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to create the sort of space i need while maintaining tight control on top (or is this not possible)? Is there a way to get tight control with just one hand (no gi) and use the free hand to help secure guard?

A related question is this: How can i get my opponent so that his legs are close to mine (i see it a lot in MMA) and his body NOT perpendicular (or so that he is unable to move to north-south)? Does this sort of position work to my advantage?

Thanks in advance.


I'm not sure I fully understand the question but here are three things that come to mind:

  1. When you are escaping from under the side mount to guard or to your hands and knees, you want to create space between the two of you. You DON'T want things to be tight, but LOOSE. So there is that moment in time just when you are getting guard, when you have to go from having a loose guard with not much control, to something else - usually straight into a submission, sweep or a stand up - actually, in your case, a tight rubber guard. Of course it's a matter of timing.

  2. Under the side mount, EVERYTHING will be better once you are on your side. If you can use your far elbow to block or kill the arm of his that either crossfaces you or pulls up on your near arm, getting to your side is easier. Sometimes you have to shrimp, sometimes you have to bridge into him several times, but the goal is to get onto your side and then escape.

  3. Don't neglect the escape of going to your hands and knees. If all you know from under the side mount is pulling guard, that can be stopped/blocked from the top guy. So if he's blocking you from pulling guard (with his knee, hand or hip), go to your hands and knees. Obviously, if you aren't on your side, you can't do that, hence the importance of item number 2 above. Finally, you have to know several escapes from the hands and knees position (aka. "front turtle" or "quarters"). One of them is simply to pull guard again (you can't pull guard, so you go to your knees and then you try pulling guard as soon as he moves). Other escapes from there include standing up, single leg and taking his back.

Hope this helps. I don't know how much of this you know already.


jonpall, the strongest man in the world.

Eddie seems to take his far foot, wedge it under his opponent's hip/ribs, leverage them off, and get guard/half-guard :)

Good stuff, strongman jonpall

exactly what jonpall said. You need space to get out of under side control. Keeping things tight is only a good thing if you're in a good position. Whenever you're in a bad position, you need space to get out. Also even if you go with the going to your knees escape, one way of following that up is by rolling across your shoulder to put them back between your legs. That's one way of pulling guard from there.


I'm not sure i fully understand the question either, so being detailed helps :)

I'll give you a bit of an example: When im in half guard (bottom), i secure the lockdown, get the underhooks, hip out and bury my head into his hip. From this position, i have gone from a fairly bad spot (flat on my back and being almost completely controled) to a dominating spot. From here, i used to work for the Old School, but then i decided that it was no good for me to end up in their half-guard, as i often was unable to do anything (the guys in my school are so explosive, it's nearly impossible to hold them down with a weak top game) so i modified the oldschool to instead, be a transition to guard. A SUPER tight, equally unstoppable guard pull. After some thought, i figured maybe i could come up with something for bottom-side that was similar.

However, perhaps, i have too little control as bottom guy in sidemount to be able to make a similar attack feasible. Maybe being loose is the only way. The problem is, the looseness on bottom seems to invite knee on stomach, or mount, whereas a tight head and arm seems to stifle almost everything (including my guard pulling apparently!)

To your points:

  1. Do you think its possible to get a tight head and arm control, and create the space between our hips and have that be just as effective? After three years of playing a sakuraba-style loose submission attack from the bottom (and loosing too many matches) the tightness i've developed recently is really helping. If it isn't possible, then it isnt possible. I'd really appreciate your thoughts on this. I'm finally wrecking guys that were previously too much for me to handle and i'd like to keep up the trend.

  2. I think part of my problem could be that i feel too comfortable flat on my back. Also, my head and arm control can make it tough to eliminate the crossface or anything keeping me from shrimping. When i do try though, i usually don't have much difficulty.

  3. At my school we are experts at this. I was hoping for a way OTHER then this, since it moves away from the game plan that has been working wonders for me now. But maybe i just need to suck it up!

Tell me what you think about this (let's assuming he is on my right side): Getting my left arm under his left arm. What i mean here is that both of my arms are at his side between his left arm and leg. From here i can get a hook over that arm and get solid head and arm control with JUST one arm. You have access to a NASTY arm triangle from here, but i can also control his right leg with my right arm to get at least to half guard... This may be really implausible though.

Thanks for the response!



A large part of my game is modeled after Eddie's, but unfortunately i can not, for the life of me, get the jail-break (the foot wedge) to work for me. I dont know how he does it, but if i get anywhere near enough space to actually do the move, my opponent takes advantage of my occupied limbs and chokes the shit out of me ;)

You've seen my teammate Paul right? I think he has 4 or 5 chokeouts (unconsious) BEFORE the opponent has even hit the mat in tournament competition. I believe they were all purple or brown belts. This is not counting the ones where the opponent choked after hitting the mat. The Catamounts love an unprotected neck ;)


Thanks, after JP's post i am becoming worried that tight control is only for potentially dominating positions.

I'm a very passive fighter, and i often loose out in matters of scrambling for position.


Jonpall is correct. The principles that you should focus on under side control are totally different from those when you have someone in your closed guard.

You want as much space as possible. You shouldn't think of controlling the guy who has side control on you. You aren't really going to control him anyways. If he tries to go for another position, that's fine. It's easier to escape in transition.

There's nothing wrong with turning to your knees. That used to be my main escape, to turn to my knees and immediately pull guard. I have long legs, so it was hard for me to pull guard directly from under side control.

dont know if this helps swim your far arm that is not on the hip underneath his arm that is around my neck,once you have this position one of your arms will be under his armpit and one should be on his hip from here you can get guard very easy.

another suggestion is to go for a couple quick submissions like the head triangle,which sets up armbars when he aviods them there's were you may go to guard.
Go for kimura's,Toeholds,or just leg grabs not to get the holds but just to make the dude panic then you'll run into escapes.

Try place your hand that is on the hip underhis armpit closed to the his legs and then go to your knee's now you should have a shoulder lock and have his back but he may counter by going nouth south.

Last but not least the Bravo escape metioned above,single leg,double leg,the stand up,The turtle to pull guard, dont turtle unless you know your sitouts and reversals really good though.

Hope this helps!My 2 cents

"I'm a very passive fighter, and i often loose out in matters of scrambling for position. "

Scrambling just comes with experience. You can't out scramble someone until you know what you're game plan for that situation is and it's instinctual. I'm working on some of that type of stuff myself, and it's frustrating, but it just comes with time. When you know what the game you want to play is, that's the difference between the skill level between people.

I agree with Jonpall. Escaping sidemount is one of the things I do well,
and it always centers, for me, upon creating space between the
opponent and I. If you have atight head and arm on your opponent,
YOU are doing the work of holding the side control FOR him. You
might consider working some open guard to closed guard, so that you
are comfortable with escaping into open guard, and then re-
establishing your closed guard.

Just some thoughts, but again, since the mechanics of escaping side
control center around creating space between the hips of the two
players, I think keeping the top guy tight is counter-productive.


"i modified the oldschool to instead, be a transition to guard. A SUPER tight, equally unstoppable guard pull. After some thought, i figured maybe i could come up with something for bottom-side that was similar. "

The game changes a bit when you go from the bottom of the side mount to the half guard. So I don't think you can come up with something for the bottom of the side mount that's similar. And even if you could, with some experimentation and imagination, it would never be very high percentage because your opponent, who is tight to you, has all the leverage and you don't.

"The problem is, the looseness on bottom seems to invite knee on stomach, or mount"

Not if you do your escapes correctly. If you just kind of "ball up", i.e. put your near knee close to your chest or in some cases your near elbow, it will be very hard to mount you or put a knee on your stomach.

"Do you think its possible to get a tight head and arm control, and create the space between our hips and have that be just as effective? "

Don't think so. See above.

"After three years of playing a sakuraba-style loose submission attack from the bottom (and loosing too many matches) the tightness i've developed recently is really helping. "

I think the reason this seems to be working for you is that this sudden change of your style is confusing your opponents a bit. Give it a while and it might very well be WORSE for you.

Another reason: Constantly trying to submit the top guy from the bottom will cause you to get submitted often - unless you're very good at it, like Sakuraba. Submissions from the bottom of the side mount and the bottom of the back mount and even the bottom of the half guard sometimes can be risky if you aren't comfortable with the fundamentals of these positions. To attack a limb, you have to extend your arms. That makes your OWN arms and also your neck a target for the top man - who's got more leverage than you. Kimuras and heel hooks, for example, can be a threat from bottom positions, but in my opinion, those types of escapes can be overdone.

I'm sure that Sakuraba knows the standard escapes very well too. I've seen Sak do some slick guard passes and other moves that are standard BJJ basic moves. The things he does sometimes look cool, but you can believe that he's got the basics nailed down very well, as well as his bag of tricks.

"Also, my head and arm control ..."

I would personally forget about grabbing his head and arm from the bottom, or just grabbing him in any way from the bottom :) You can experiment with this of course, along with doing the known high percentage escapes that come from creating SPACE, but I wouldn't count on it. But who knows, experimentation is good, in general, and maybe you'll come up with a trick or two that can really help you at times. But without the basics, you will always be stopped dead in the tracks by a good grappler.

"Tell me what you think about this (let's assuming he is on my right side): Getting my left arm under his left arm. What i mean here is that both of my arms are at his side between his left arm and leg. "

This sounds very similar to what me and some other guys on this thread have been advocating. It's a part of Michael Jen's "pin prevention system", which revolves around the principle of not giving your opponent full chest to chest control and not giving him the chance to wrap his arms around your body and pull the two of you together. Matt Thornton's "boxing hands posture" is kind of similar.

If he's on your right side, your right elbow (note - in these cases, when I say elbows, I mean the bottom half of your forearm, close to your elbow.) is pushing his left hip and your left elbow is pushing his left armpit. Whenever he tries to wrap his left arm around your head, push his left elbow off your head with your right hand, while simultaneously raising your head to duck it under his arm. Then put your right elbow back on his hip.

What you are doing here is "killing" his left arm so he can't use it to wrap it around your head (cross-face) or pull up on your right arm. And these two things are his most powerful weapons he has to keep you flat on your back. You just took that away from him! Good for you, bad for him.

From this position, shrimp and/or bridge several times to get onto your right side. Then just push on his hips, stomach or legs with your elbows or stiff arms and either pull guard or get to your knees. If he's in some form of scarf hold (basically lying on you on his side), it can help to push with your top elbow between any two of his ribs :)

Actually, I PREFER to just be completely on my right side, pushing with my elbows or straight arms (usually I push with straight arms; straight arms aren't that dangerous for you once you're on your side), than to be flat on my back with the "pin prevention system". This is because I'm closer to an escape that way. But sometimes you get flattened out a bit and then it can be very handy to put your left elbow under his left armpit like that.

Another good arm position for you is to underhook his RIGHT arm with your left arm and get his weight over your head with shrimps and/or bridges.

Also, here's an escape I like to use sometimes if my opponent COMPLETELY sinks in a pin from the side mount:

Let's say he's on my right side. I'm prepared to push on his left knee with my right elbow. I just wait for him to mount me by lowering my right knee a bit. I also make sure that I'm not offering him anything else than mounting me from this position so I might, in this case, wrap my arms loosely around his body.

WHEN he mounts, pretty much the same time as his leg touches the mat on the other side, I do an elbow escape on his left leg, catching that leg in my half guard. You have to do this escape in the transition. Otherwise it will be harder.

Ok, i worked on a few things last night. One was staying loose and working the standard elbow controls, but second was the move i mentioned in my last post that jonpaul addressed.

It is different from the pin prevention. instead of putting my left hand or elbow into his left armpit i push it all the way through so that his left arm is completely under my left arm. I then weave my left arm under his head and lock it up. Then i have decent control over his upper body (he will have a hard time moving for either N/S or mount) with just one arm. From there, i fed my right arm through, took a hold of his right leg and pulled half, with a brutal arm triangle variation possibly already locked in.

Try it out and let me know what yuo think. Like JP said, though, i'm going to need to develop setups to make it higher percentage, although i pulled it of three times against a big dude who had about 30 lbs on me.


Thanks for all the great advice. I really like your suggestion in the last post. I always have my elbow in the hip, but leg control on that same side is an interesting idea. Does the guy ever just pin your arm down though? Seems like most of the guys in my school would just trap your arm if you moved it out of the hip at all.


if what you're describing is how I imagine it, you should watch them taking N/S. I think it will be hard to pull that off against some better people to begin with, but my reaction would be to spin to N/S if you even got your arm pushed through, or take mount possibly since you're taking your arm completely out of position to use to defend yourself.

My arm is blocking his left arm which makes going to mount more difficult. My arm is also blocking his head which makes taking N/S more difficult. Once i gain control over one of his legs (super easy with the gi, but i was grabbing ankles last night) with my free arm, i asked him to move one way or the other, and he couldnt. And my legs were still free :)


I know what move you're talking about with the pseudo arm triangle thing from under side control. Kirik does that move A LOT. Once people are aware of it, they can usually avoid it pretty easily though, just by watching where they put their arm, and where they put their head.

I still think you should focus on the pure water zhoo zhitsu escapes, my friend.

The thing about that move is if the top guy is watching carefully, he can do the same move to you once you start it.

"My arm is also blocking his head which makes taking N/S more difficult"

well what I was saying was before you get your arm around the head, it will be very easy to go to north south for the person. So in the middle point of of locking it up is where you'll get countered. Things never go entirely as planned all the time when grappling, so I was just pointing that out so you can watchout for it.


Stop dashing my hopes of developing a pure EARTH jiu jitsu game! One where i can lay around lazily (but skillfully) until my opponents yield!?!

"he can do the same move to you once you start it. "

Yeah that's true.

"I still think you should focus on the pure water zhoo zhitsu escapes, my friend."

I have this crazy idea in my head still (ever since i had that rash of killer wins in training from the bottom of side mount, mount, and north/south) that i can still be extremely offensive (or at least effectively controlling) from anywhere on the bottom. My teammates began yelling out "Submission from any position!" at me during tournaments and training. Then of course, once people got wise to my maneuvers i started getting armbarred and choked regularly.

For some reason i just can't shake that dream. Bottom-side just seems so nice. I've got both of my legs and both of my arms completely free, with his head and arms just waiting to be subbed. Perhaps its time to just give it up...



You are correct. I do usually have a post on his leg by this point to stop him, and it seems pretty effective so far, but i'm still vulnerable, as most people are pointing out ;)


Most of getting out from the bottom depends on the opponents arm positioning on the top. I'll shoot through some i use from the crossbody positions i'm fimiliar with.
1. Alot of wrestlers get on top and have good upper body tightness but lack control of your hips. Usually for this i stick with the good ole faithful shrimp. Not a weak shrimp but a solid hard shrimp so you got a mile of space to cut your knee back in. Inch your way in once the knee has broken the hip plane. If need be stiff arm the side of the hip closest to your head to help work the knee in.

  1. The arm positioning is the arm furtherest from your head is at the hip stoppin the knee from coming in and the other arm is opposite of your body usually somewhere under the armpit. Here i like to work my furtherest hand from their hips through under them to the hip side that is closest to your feet. The other hand is in its normal defensive elbow on the hip. Now take the leg closest to them underneath the opposite leg. When u do it throw it through violently to let the rest of your body to follow the momentum. the goal when doing this is to have your head between their legs on all fours. When u start out your body would be in a position like this line | then after the momentum takes u over you'll end up with your body in a line like this -- Basically like a clock. If u was laying on a clock and your body was lined up with the 12 and the 6. After the technique is completed your body should be lined up with the 3 and 9.

  2. Opponent's arm hugging with both arms the arm fartherest from them. This makes shrimping difficult cuz your upper body can't get the motion to turn into them. Having your defense elbow into their hip move the arm closest to their hip underneath them and to the opposite side of their rib cage. Now with one motion semi bridge and pull yourself through with that arm on the rib cage. Your actually semi turning away from them while coming out back door. This technique should end with you on all fours but on top of the position. You'll almost be at a 45 degree angle with them.