For more of us who do BJJ, side control submissions are a pain in the ass. Whether you are in gi or no gi side control, the submission options are actually somewhat limited.
Particularly in no gi, submitting from these positions will require detailed knowledge of a few good submissions. Furthermore, the ability to quickly transition to better positions from side control is the hallmark of a skilled submission artist.
In the following article, we break down the importance of the BJJ side control positions. Our discussion includes the main submissions available from BJJ side control. We will also talk about the most important transitions needed to ensure you can finish these techniques. The submissions we cover are available in both Gi and No Gi BJJ side control.
Why is BJJ Side Control Important?
Side control is an extremely important position in BJJ. The traditional BJJ control progression goes from guard passing to submission. Side control is the first true control position you establish after passing the guard.
Once you are in side control, your opponent can no longer leverage the strength of their hips for sweeps and submissions. Additionally, unless you make a mistake with your top control positioning, there are not many submissions available from the bottom.
If you implement any traditional guard passing games, you absolutely must have a strong side control. Most successful guard passes result in the side control position. Therefore, you need to be able to both achieve and maintain side control to advance a traditional game plan. If your opponent recovers guard any time you pass, you will never get a better position or submission.
Having a good arsenal of submissions from side control ultimately helps you maintain and advance your position, in addition to increasing your chances of getting the tap.
The Best BJJ Side Control Submissions
The following list contains the main submissions you should learn from side control. Realistically, these are more like categories of submissions, given that true mastery of these submissions involves learning the details to make the moves work for you.
Every opponent is different, and every build is different. Most BJJ masters have their own unique ways of finishing each submission. Nevertheless, the sooner you start learning and attacking with these submissions, the sooner you’ll start tapping out your opponents with relentless BJJ side control submissions.
Kimura from Side Control
The Kimura is both a submission and an entire system in of itself. The Kimura grip is available from a wide number of positions, including top side control. To achieve the Kimura, you’ll need to establish a figure-four grip on your opponent’s arm while their forearm is pointing towards their waist. The grip is similar to the Americana. However with the Americana, their forearm points up towards their head, and the grip reverses.
You can use the Kimura grip to set up several attacks including back-takes, armbars, and of course, the Kimura shoulder-lock submission.
To finish the Kimura from side control, you need to pull your opponent towards you and onto their opposite hip from the arm you’re attacking. You may need to step over their head for control. The Kimura submission happens when you bring their wrist away from their body and use your grip to rotate their shoulder counterclockwise. If they don’t tap, this results in dislocation of the shoulder and a potential rotator cuff tear – or worse.
For a great instructional on the Kimura, we recommend Tom DeBlass’s ‘Kimura Domination’ Series
Arm Bar from BJJ Side Control
The arm bar is a readily available submission from BJJ side control. You can attack both the near-side and far-side arms with this devastating side control submission.
For the best armbar attacks from side control, you will need to transition. One of our personal favorites is the spinning armbar from knee-on-belly. From side control, quickly hop your knee up to their belly and put a bit of pressure in the sternum. Frequently, your opponent will push into your knee to relieve the pressure. This exposes the crook of their far-side elbow, allowing you to scoop it up and quickly spin across their face to attack the arm. You can also use this to attack the Kimura, discussed above.
The ‘shotgun armbar’ from BJJ side control is another great armbar submission. For this variation, you overhook their near-side arm with your top arm and grab their tricep at the elbow. Quickly hop-up and slide your bottom-shin into their armpit and whip your top side calf across their face. If you maintain the overhook, you can quickly get the tap once you fall back with their arm pinched between both your legs (see the YouTube video for a great breakdown).
A final armbar from side control worth discussing is the figure-four far-side armbar. You can find this sneaky submission when your opponent defends the Kimura bar straightening their arm. Position your figure-four gripping forearm behind their triceps and apply pressure with your grip on their wrist to finish the submission. This option is low percentage, but it at least forces your opponent back into the Kimura position or into an Americana position.
Arm Triangle Submission from BJJ Side Control
The arm triangle is a great choke option from the side control position. This submission is available whenever your opponent crosses an arm across their face.
Use your own head to pin their arm across their neck. The meat of their shoulder will compress the carotid artery on one side. Use a cross-face with a gable grip to cut off the other carotid.
To finish the submission, you will probably have to transition to be on the same side as the opponent’s crossed-over arm. Even if you cannot finish the submission, your opponent will often turn away from you to defend. This exposes their back and allows you a high-percentage back-take entry.
Get More Submissions from BJJ Side Control!
These three moves are just a few great attack options for BJJ side control submissions. As you practice these submissions, you’ll develop the additional details needed to make these moves work on better and better opponents. Furthermore, you will get more threatening with these submissions.
You will become better at forcing your opponent to move and give up increasingly worse positions. In competition, this will help you rack up points and ultimately lead to victory.
Looking for more detailed Side Control skills from a true BJJ master?