Hey everybody, Richie Yip here.
We are talking about probably the #1 problem in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, how to escape bottom cross side.
I’m going to show you the system that I use and that my students use to “dominate” from this super tough bottom position.
You’re going to learn how timing is everything.
And that it doesn’t matter if you’re smaller and weaker than your opponent. If you have better timing; then, you’re going to escape bottom cross side every time.
Okay, let’s get going!
We’re going to start thing’s off with what is cross side?
Let’s first talk about passing guard. With my training partner Stephan on his back he is fighting from his guard. Think of the guard as a wall I need to get around. As soon as I jump over this wall, we’re in cross side.
Yes, I still have to wait for the referee to award me three points; but, I’ve now upgraded my position since I’ve now passed Stephan’s guard.
The game now starts for Stephan to start to escape cross side as opposed to maintain guard.
Now, as soon as someone gets over your knee, you need to start working your cross side escapes.
Once someone has passed your guard, you can no longer use your legs to keep yourself safe; but, you can use your arms. Extend both of your arms to control their bicep.
Once you’re controlling the bicep, kick up to help you sit up. Push their bicep as you push your other hand to the mat.
Then, walk backwards and your opponent will slide off of you and you’ll have escaped bottom cross side.
Now this works because most people don’t think it works. I’ve actually been doing this to people, and they’re looking at me confused as they fall over.
But you need commitment from the person on top. They need to be heavy and they need to be going for your neck.
Check out my video tutorial where I breakdown the Bicep Push Escape:
Let’s move on to the next part of my Ultimate System for Escaping Bottom Cross Side.
When someone has just passed my guard. I basically screwed up controlling distance and they got over my knees.
But I can still use my hands to keep the distance, right?
Also, I want to stop my opponent from coming in and smashing my neck, right? That’s a universal truth when it comes to jiu-jitsu or boxing or fighting in general- I ALWAYS want to protect my neck.
In Boxing, I keep my chin down and I hunch my shoulders forward. If you focus on protecting your neck, you’ll keep your chin down and you’ll have a perfect Boxing stance.
Furthermore, I always want to protect my neck when I’m doing jiu-jitsu. I know he wants my neck. So, I use my arms to keep my opponent away from my neck once they’ve passed my guard.
In this cross side escape, I don’t want to bend my elbow from here- I want to keep my arms locked out straight.
Even if my triceps are really strong and I can bench press 300lbs that’s not an efficient way to jiu-jitsu.
Now, by keeping my arms locked out straight, I can keep my opponent’s hip close to my hip. From this position, now I can hit the reguard.
A common mistake is to bridge straight up. If my foot is back, I bridge into Stephan, because he’s the guy who is trying to pass my guard. He’s the guy who is trying to be heavy into me.
I bridge into my opponent, I pull my hips back, and I’m able to enter in with my shin. Basically, I’ve just reguarded.
By reguarding from bottom cross side, you’ll be able to hit a low risk, high percentage escape from bottom cross side.
Check out what I mean here!
Now remember, escaping bottom cross side begins as soon as my opponent gets past my knees.
I need to go and make sure that he cannot get his elbow underneath my neck and shoulder close to me; thus, controlling my neck and crushing out my jaw.
I’m keeping him at bay with my arms, but furthermore I’m also keeping my feet on the floor, I’m moving up my hip and then I’m moving my shoulders.
With me moving my shoulders, I’m basically moving my head like it’s the tail of a fish.
From here, when I feel comfortable, when I have as much distance as possible, I’m now going to quickly move my feet. I move my feet so I can bridge quickly into Stephan.
I bridge, I shrimp out, and now I’m able to get my guard back.
But the key thing is to move my head, and to move my shoulders back. I am pretending that my shoulder blades are feet, and I am rolling my shoulders.
If I do this a little bit faster, I almost look like the tail of a fish.
This is a critical skill. Being able to move when you are on your back is a critical skill for jiu-jitsu and one that is often neglected by many white belts.
Alright, so, the key thing is that I don’t wait until he locks down on my head in order to get that cross side escape and reguard.
This video totally breaks down what I mean by moving my head like a fish!
Now we’re going to be covering the elbow push technique
This is probably my personal favourite, it’s awesome. The best person in the world that does this is Marcelo Garcia, here’s a great highlight reel of him hitting this technique. Check it out.
So, the Elbow push, how do you do it? Stephan is passing my guard. He’s able to go through, past the shin.
Now I need to control his lead arm with my hands before he grabs my neck.
Because of the timing and because of how heavy Stephan is, I want to try and hit the escape, but you see how I can’t just sit up, right? What I need to do is I need to deflect to the other side.
But first I need to create some more space between me and Stephan. Do you see how I’m moving away; I’m doing what’s called a fishtail. I’m creating distance, and then, at the perfect moment, I’m going to let go and switch to controlling the back of his elbow.
I’m going to have my foot up, and then I’m going to stomp down to help me generate the force I need to sit up.
From here, in the ideal situation is to kneel up and sweep Stephan over. Now the sweep doesn’t always happen. If fact, the most common scenario is that a scramble will be initiated and you’ll be able to establish your Guard back.
Now, let’s look at the Granby escape from bottom cross side.
The Granby is an escape that I think is super popular. The best jiu-jitsu practitioners in the world use the Granby to escape bottom cross side.
We’re going to talk about the dynamic, athletic way of doing the Grandy. What I call the “young punk” way of doing it, and then I’m going to talk about the way that I do it – the old man jiu-jitsu way of doing it. But first, the young punk way.
Check out my video on this right away and you’ll see what I mean- haha!
Now, if I get my guard passed, I may need to turn away from my opponent in order to stay safe.
If I was twenty years younger, all I would need to do to escape would be to invert, bump my opponent and swing my leg all the way around. And suddenly, I’ve escaped cross side.
But, I don’t do that anymore.
I always want to make sure my spine and my neck are safe when I hit the Granby escape.
And also, as a teacher, I see tonnes of people putting a lot of strain on their necks when they’re doing the Granby and they are getting smashed.
So, in order to go and make sure that everybody’s cervical spine stays safe I teach the old man way of doing the Granby, which I actually think is a better way of doing it.
So, if I get my guard passed, I may need to turn away. I first check my opponent’s shoulder.
Now from here, I’m going to bring my nose to my knees. Once I have this, I’m going to use my forearm and I bring my chest out proud. So there’s a conduit of force between my elbow into my shoulder.
I’m going to go push out a little bit and then bring my hip where my elbow is.
I basically use my hip and my butt to keep my opponent away from me.
Of course I don’t want to fight people with my butt. I just keep my hip up for a split moment until I can safely turn and face my opponent with my guard.
You see how the Granby is basically my hip being used as a way to maintain distance. Just like my shin is a way to maintain distance when I’m fighting from the guard. Whether it’s my shin, my foot or my hip.. It makes no difference, right?
So, this is how you do the old man jiu-jitsu Granby. At no point in time was my neck being compressed. And you don’t need athleticism to do this. The Granby is a great way to escape bottom cross side.
Okay, so the next technique is the Sit Up Escape.
The Sit Up Escape works when you’re in bottom cross side and you are turned away slightly from your opponent.
The Sit up escape means that I’m basically just sitting up to escape bottom cross side. But, of course, it’s just not that simple.
The first thing I need to do is establish a frame so that my opponent doesn’t crush out my jaw.
In this case, since I’m slightly on my side, this frame will be my top arm, meaning my right arm, using the bulk of my elbow.
Once the frame is established, I’m going to use my legs to generate momentum and I’m going to translate that momentum through my legs, through my abs, into my upper body so I can sit up.
As I sit up, I’ve got to prop my other elbow on to the floor. And then, I transition from my elbow into my hand. From here, I can move my hip away from my opponent and safely place them into my guard.
A key feature to making the Sit Up Escape work is to ensure that your chest is proud as you frame with your elbow and as you post up with your hand. By keeping your chest proud, your skeleton will be much stronger and you’ll be able to generate far more force.
When I’m escaping bottom cross side, I always want to put myself in a position where my skeleton can develop force. So this is the reason why I always recommend people to train with weights. It’s not about being buff. It’s about understanding how your body develops power and how it asserts force.
Let’s pull everything together now..
What if someone is in top cross side and has my neck, he’s controlling my jaw, and he is crushing me out. What would we do then?
Escaping cross side when someone is crushing out my jaw is where things get really, really tough…
But, luckily, there’s still some highly effective solutions for the person on bottom.
The first thing I’m going to do is bridge, but the positioning of my feet are really, really important. I’m going to do a 1-2 move.
Now, I’m going to bridge and punch. By punch, I’m basically trying to punch him in the ear or temple with my bicep. And then as he goes down, I’m going to bridge in the opposite direction and I’m going to punch with my bicep into his shoulder.
Basically, I want to try to sweep the person on top over. You’re probably not going to get the sweep; but, you’re going to at least try. That’s the intent. You want to at least try to sweep a person over.
Now, if you’re trying to sweep the person over, what do they need to do in order to maintain that position?
They need to put their hands on the floor.
Once their hands are on the floor, I can then hit the escape of my choice.
Now, it’s not always personal preference. Sometimes, the escape that I hit is based on how the person on top is trying to maintain the position.
And, sometimes it’s just done in a bunch of combinations. I’m trying to go, and break apart that control on my jaw, right? From there, I may try to the sit-up escape — doesn’t work. Maybe I’ll go for the elbow push in combination.
But all these things are up to you to experiment with, to experience them, and to synchronize them in a way that works with your jiu jitsu.
You can see what I mean here in the video below!
This system for escaping bottom cross side is a compilation of some of my favourite Houdini-esque techniques for quick and easy escapes from this tough and terrifying position.
I hope this helps you along your BJJ journey.