3 Ways To Recover Guard From Side Control

Dan Faggella is a BJJ Academy Owner, No Gi Pan Am Champion at 130 pounds, and recognized expert in the area of leg locks. Dan writes or Jiu Jitsu Magazine, Jiu Jitsu Style, MMA Sports Mag, and more – you get his brand new 7 escapes book completely FREE right here.

You like to play guard right? Sure you do, everyone who does bjj loves that stuff. Nobody likes being on bottom side control though (except maybe Ryron Gracie), being crushed blows. If you want to play guard then you need to be able to get there though. There are some great ways to establish some kind of guard orientation. Pulling guard is probably the safest, most efficient way to get to your guard but sometimes that just isn’t a possibility.

If you get passed, swept or taken down chances are that you are being crushed on the bottom of someone’s side control. In order to escape you pretty much either reverse your opponent into side control or you can reguard. If you are a small guy like me then chances of you throwing your opponent over you are pretty small.

So, the ancient and noble art of recovering the guard it is… There are lots of ways to reguard and today we are going to take a look at three ways and we are going to try and find out what it is that makes them work.

Screen shot 2013-07-03 at 12.23.44 PMLet’s face it, some techniques are more attribute related than others, that’s why some techniques might be awesome for me but crappy for you. I call techniques that rely very heavily on certain physical attributes “attribute jiu jitsu”.  Eddie Bravo’s “jailbreak” is an example of this, it takes advantage of being extremely flexible.


Flexibility is a physical attribute that can be an enormous advantage, just like strength. Nobody likes to be “that guy” who uses all strength and no technique there is always going to be stronger and faster than you. Flexibility differs in that aspect; someone can counter your strength based techniques by being stronger than you but probably can’t counter you flexibility escapes by being more flexible than you.

You need to make sure you don’t start to abuse your flexibility instead of using good technique though. Using both your attributes and proper technique at the same time is the best way to get the most out of your jiu jitsu though.

The escape itself is pretty simple and you probably don’t really need that much of instruction on it after seeing it in action. Just in case I found this video for you. It’s pretty simple if you look at it, you just prevent the mount, create a little bit of space and put your foot in said space. It’s a brilliant application of getting one point of control on his body (your first hook) and use it to maneuver yourself in relation to his body until you get more points of control.


If you want to see it in action than you should watch the legendary match between Eddie Bravo and Royler Gracie. The first time that it is mentioned in this video is at 03:45.


Screen shot 2013-07-03 at 12.26.39 PM

I don’t really think there is a proper definition of “reguarding” but I know for sure that it’s always used to describe an instance where you need to get back to your guard after you have somehow lost it. I don’t know if it only counts after you totally got your guard passed or if it’s still reguarding you weren’t really totally passed yet. This type of escape/ reguard however would fit both descriptions because it can be either used as an early or a late defense.

This escape is pretty much the exact opposite of the previous one, you don’t really need to use any attributes at all, instead it only relies on proper technique and timing (not to take anything away from the previous escape).


Because you are using a stretched arm in this technique requires very little strength, using the structure of your body in your favor is almost always the way to go when escaping. If you need to escape then you are probably in some kind of position that prevents you from using your strength anyways.

Timing is very important for this escape as well, the sooner you are able to start your escape the higher your chances of success.

When you escape like this it’s very important to sit up straight as soon as you can. Sitting upright in proper posture is almost always an advantage because of a couple of reasons:

1)    You are more mobile

2)    You are one step further removed from being crushed flat on your back.

3)    It allows you to hand fight a lot more efficiently.

Marcelo is known to use this technique a lot but he isn’t the only one, there are others who use this technique as well. I’d suggest you watch this match in its entirety if you want to learn about reguarding but the main stiff arm escapes are at 3:30 and 15:15. Leandro Lo has awesome guard passing, the fact that Felipe Preguiça is able to reguard as much as he has is a clear sign that this technique is super legit.



One other very legit way to recover the guard from bottom side control is, yes you guessed it, turtling. Escaping the side control when someone is just trying to keep you there is hard, because, let’s face it, side control offers a lot of, well, control. Starting to escape and move in a direction that is obviously favorable for you and not your opponent is often met with a lot of pressure and neck pain. Moving in a way that seems beneficial for your opponent is often met with a lot less resistance.

I already did an article about how Jeff Glover used the turtle to escape against Cobrinha (http://bjjaddicttv.com/2013/07/bjj-escapes-and-scrambles-jeff-glover-case-study/) so I’m not going to repeat all that; I am however going to show you some more footage of elite level competitors using the turtle to recover their guard.

Here you can see Ryan Hall using the exact same method as Jeff Glover to recover his guard (at around 04:30), he did admittedly get his back taken for a moment there but was still able to escape after using the turtle.


Galvao is also known to use the turtle sometimes in order to escape. In his match against Buchecha he used a really quick turtle in order to escape from Buchecha who had ended up in knee on belly for the briefest of moments. Look at 05:23.


For a more in depth analysis of escaping the side control position, make sure to check out this article right here.

Take care,

Dan Faggella



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