What is Side Control in BJJ and Submission Grappling?

Side control is a pinning position in Brazilian jiu-jitsu when you’re perpendicular to your opponent and are not entangled in their legs.  Typically but not always you’re chest to chest with your opponent.  It is one of the 6 main positions in BJJ and it’s where you end up most often after passing the guard.

But there isn’t just one perfect version of side control. Depending on what you’re trying to set up and depending on how your opponent is trying to escape you can have your arms, legs, hips and body in a number of different positions, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Side Control, the Video

Here’s a video I shot showing you the super basic form of side control, along with 17 more advanced variations…

For now, lets focus on how to make  the basic form of side control work for you…

Super Basic Side Control

In the basic side control you’re kneeling at 90 degrees to your opponent and chest to chest with him.

Your arm that’s closest to his legs comes underneath his far arm (known as an ‘underhook’) and your arm that’s closest to his head comes under his neck with your shoulder driving into his face (known as the ‘crossface’). Your hands are typically linked together to form a closed circuit.

Before we move on to other variations of the side control let’s first dive a little deeper into two aspects of super basic side control: the underhook and the crossface.

The Underhook

The underhook is a type of grip that you’ll use in many positions in BJJ.  It occurs when one of your arms comes under one of your opponent’s arm and though his armpit.

Depending on the situation, in the underhook you’ll typically cup his shoulder with your hand, control his belt behind his back, or clasp your hands together (as you do in this version).

The purpose of the underhook in side control is to control your opponent’s far side shoulder to make it difficult for him to move that side of his body in either direction.

By controlling his ability to rotate you prevent him from facing you and getting back to his guard, forcing him to turn away as … Continue reading What is Side Control in BJJ and Submission Grappling?