Escaping Side Mount for Smaller Grapplers


A reader writes…

Q: Hi Stephan, I’ve got a question for you if you don’t mind me asking. I often struggle when it comes to rolling with big guys. I weigh roughly 52 kilos and the guys at the gym obviously weigh a lot more than me. I often find myself being pinned down in one position and not being able to maneuver myself as the guy uses his weight/strength against me. This mainly happens when they have got side control on me etc.

Could you possibly give me any advice on how i can deal with superior weight/strength. This sounds like a stupid question when i read back but it’s definitely something i struggle with an awful lot. It also makes me doubt my technical ability too, because weight shouldn’t matter, right?

If you could give any advice it would be most appreciated!

A: Thanks for asking this question, because it’s a great opportunity for me to kill a popular BJJ myth!

Ready?  Here it is…


Let’s imagine two grapplers with the same skill level and the same conditioning level.  The only thing is that there’s a big size difference. Most honest instructors will tell you that  9 times out of 10 the bigger guy will win.

But before you get too depressed, note the careful choice of words, namely “…of the same skill level…”

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but technique can definitely compensate for size.

When Marcelo Garcia enters the open division and successfully taps out people almost twice his size, he does this because his skill level is so much higher than theirs.

One good resource to start with is to read guest author Krista Scott-Dixon’s article on Tips for Female Grapplers. And that article isn’t just for women – I got a lot of feedback from smaller men who got a lot out of it too.

(If you want more along those lines check out the additional links at the bottom of Krista’s article.)

Now, about your problem escaping sidemount…

When it comes specifically to escaping pins against against a big and heavy opponent, you’re right, it can be very difficult.  Part of the answer is to create motion and escape before you’re fully pinned.

I don’t know if you’ve already seen this, but if you haven’t then check out this video for some help with that concept

To see the same Traditional Escapes video on YouTube, click here!

But if you’re already pinned then you need to create space.

Click here to see this Escaping Sidemount video on YouTube.

And, just for good measure, here’s a technical escape from full mount that might also help you

Click here to view the same Mount Escape video on YouTube!

Finally, don’t give up!  Yes, you’ve got an uphill battle, but it will make you stronger.

Probably part of your reason for doing all this training is self defense.  If that’s true then working against bigger, stronger opponents in the safe and controlled environment of class will give you a lot of confidence when it comes to using this stuff ‘for real’ in a self-defense context.

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