Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.
Side control is easily one of the toughest positions to escape in all of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. While the back is certainly the most sought after (generally speaking), side control can be considerably tougher to deal with from the bottom person's perspective.
Here's a different approach to getting out besides turning in or turning away from your partner. The bridge-and-roll escape is likely to either be a very strong position for you or one you only use on occasion, but either way, it's a great move to integrate into your overall BJJ game.
Getting the Grips
Beginning with a classic head and arm side control, your first move needs to be to isolate the arm that is hugging your head. There's really no way to avoid this step if you want to do the bridge-and-roll escape, so if you can't get this, you would want to move on to a different escape.
First, hug your partner's biceps with your hand (right hand, if your partner is on your right side). Next, drop your elbow back down across your partner's hips, creating a solid defensive frame (so they can't advance their hips forward). Now bring your left arm across your partner's head, almost as though you are inviting a head and arm choke. Assuming you are properly controlling the inside arm, they won't be able to finish the choke, so there's little to worry about with this particular defensive posture.
The belt grip works best for me, but check out the variation below involving an alternate grip. To augment the safety, and reduce the risk of an arm triangle counter, be sure to flare your elbow out and down once you have a hold of the belt.
Once you have the proper grips in place, you are good to go with the roll. However, there's an additional posture requirement that needs to be met, and it is best met during the move itself. Start to walk your feet around your partner, heading toward a north/south position. As you begin to walk, the real thing you want to pay attention to is where your inside elbow ends up. You need to be able to lift their far hip with your elbow, so keep walking in the direction of north/south until you have this. Once your forearm or elbow us under their far hip, you can bridge to lift their hips off the ground (note that the belt grip does help some here, but it's only a force multiplier for the elbow/forearm that needs to lift the far hip. Finally, as your partner begins to go over, simply follow them by latching on to them. Use as little of your own energy as possible during the execution of the roll, and stay tight to your partner the entire time so that you have a solid side control position upon the finish.
Two subtle changes here may make this move more effective for you. First, if you are unable to get the biceps control we used earlier, try relying on your head positioning to pin their arm in place. If you are good at this, you can be very effective in inhibiting their ability to base. Second, if your partner's belt has come off (or if it's no-gi, or if you just want to try a different variation), grip your partner's far armpit in the same manner that you would grip their belt. Once again, watch out for the arm triangle by flaring your elbow out as needed. The execution and finish are essentially the same, and you should end up with a great position upon completing the roll.
I went nearly 20 years in jiu-jitsu without being able to execute the bridge-and-roll escape from side control effectively in live rolling. I believe now that I understand the mechanics of the position well, and while I simply didn't have access to great learning materials on the escape, nowadays there are plenty out there. Hopefully this tutorial contributes to the overall body of knowledge, which is ultimately what pushes the art of jiu-jitsu forward. As always, please let me know if you have success with these techniques!
© 2018 Andrew Smith