When starting out in Bjj, the mount and closed guard are two key positions to learn and understand. For many white belts, side control is seen as a transitional position. You often look to either mount or take the back of your opponent depending on their skill level. Side control can be a potent place to attack from, however. Many opponents will be so focussed on getting out from underneath, that they leave a number of their defenses down. Regardless of your intentions from side control, the following Submission from Side Control are crucial to understand from both an attack and a defense perspective.

Submission from Side Control BJJ

Key Lock

The Key Lock is very similar to a Kimura. Both involve locking the shoulder and both involve two of your hands working against one of your opponents’. The key lock involves locking the shoulder, elbow and wrist of your opponent. From top side control, your hand closest to your opponent’s head (top arm) locks your opponent’s far side wrist in place. Your hand closest to your opponent’s legs (bottom arm) then comes underneath their tricep on the same side to lock your other hand in place. From there, it is a matter of “painting a straight line” towards your opponent’s leg with their hand that is locked in place. A key lock is effective when your opponent’s arm is in close. Typically, we are taught to keep our arms in close to defend from arm bars. The difficulty in side control is that we will open ourselves up for a key lock submission. The submission feels very similar to a Kimura so it is important to always practice slow with this one to avoid unnecessary injuries to your opponent.

Shoe String Arm Bar

The majority of arm bars take place with your opponent’s arm in between your legs. From side control, this is not an option. With an arm between your legs, you can use your hips as a leverage point at your opponent’s elbow. The shoe string arm bar replaces that leverage point at your hip with your arm. From top position, you extend your top arm and lock your opponent’s wrist to the mat. Similarly to a key lock, you insert your bottom arm under your opponent’s tricep but now you grab your forearm with that bottom hand. With your top arm fully extended, and your opponent’s arm resting on your bottom arm, you can begin to push their wrist towards the mat as you slowly raise your bottom arm from the mat. Although not as effective as a traditional arm bar, the shoe string appears all the time in side control. Is also a perfect compliment to the key lock. If the shoe string isn’t on, the key lock will be available. From another perspective, the shoe string also gives you a good understanding of the leverage required to complete an arm bar. In practicing this technique, your regular arm bars should improve technically.

Submission from Side Control BJJ

Bread Cutter Choke

One of the sneakiest chokes in the game and my personal favorite submission. The Bread cutter begins in side control and transitions briefly to north/south before returning to the side. The bread cutter is a collar choke which not only makes it difficult to defend, it is also extremely potent and powerful. Briefly, the choke requires a` bottom collar grip. Next, your elbow blocks your opponent’s close side knee before you transition to north/south. As you move, your opponent’s close side arm will pop out from underneath you, at which point you can transition back to side control. As you move back, you take your top arm and get a deep grip on the top of your opponent’s collar from the far side of their neck. Back in side control now, you can tighten your grip on that top collar and the tap almost always comes. As mentioned, this is a very tight squeeze. It is also an excellent alternative from the key lock and shoe string arm bar. If one of the previous two doesn’t present itself, the bread cutter is always a good option.