Transition (Bottom): Ankle Lift to Knee Tap

Student Objectives:

The student will recognize correct defensive hand and arm placements while in Side Control.

The student will explore effective ways to create space while escaping Side Control.

The student will apply the Hand Spear Belly Down technique to escape Side Control.

Teaching Cues:

Home Alone and Napoleon  

Shrimp and Thread

Hand Spear


Lesson: Hand Spear Belly Down

While the practicing student is trying to learn the pathways, I encourage the use of large space.  For this reason I recommend a modified Side Control position where the assisting student purposefully extends their arms and exaggerates the distance between the  student’s chests. As the practicing student begins to understand the pathways, the assisting student will gradually close the distance until they are in a chest on chest position.  

The practicing student will start flat on their back with their legs bent and feet posted. The hand closest to the assisting student should be placed on their own face in the Home Alone Position. The second hand is placed palm down, on their own stomach, along the bottom of the rib cage.  The hand laying across the stomach should be placed as close to the assisting student’s armpit as possible.  You should refer to this hand as the Napoleon Hand.    

Explain to the student’s that the Napoleon Hand is a defensive placement of the arm that avoids armbars, Kimuras, Americanas and underhooks.  When the assisting student elevates their body to attack the arm it should be extended deep into the assisting student’s armpit. After clearing the hand through the armpit, the extension of the arm should continue with the practicing student trying to reach for the outside ankle of the assisting student.  Obviously this is a long distance, and will require the practicing student to complete the belly down before gaining access to the ankle.  However the visualization and attempt to grab the ankle will guide the pathway for this movement.  

Turning over for the belly down will be the hardest part of the movement.  The space near their head is contested because of the arm that is placed on the floor.  In reality this will be a Crossface and the majority of the physical battle will take place in this space.  The Home Alone hand can be used to help prevent total domination of the chin, but the student will have to focus on Threading the Needle.  

Threading the Needle is a powerful movement because it focuses on using space that is uncontested.  Threading the Needle can be achieved by sliding the leg nearest the assisting student under the outside leg and turning the hips towards the floor.  If Children have trouble understanding this concept, the hip motion is very similar to a Technical Stand Up.   To build a deeper understanding of this movement you can have them start by doing a Technical Stand Up, then performing the technique from their elbow instead of their hand, and then lastly have them do it from their shoulder.  Combining this Threading the Needle with a slight Shrimp and an extension of that Napoleon Hand can create a very powerful movement.  

Instruct the students that it is ok to physically move the bicep out of the way for the head to move inside, but be real with them in the conversation concerning that arm.  It is going to be difficult.  If the child is able to clear the head under the body then an immediate transition to turtle should be made.  They should take a Sloth Grip as they move into the Ankle Lift position and upon obtaining the grip, Tripod their body and apply heavy pressure from the shoulder of the Sloth Grip onto the hip of the assisting student.  At this point they should circle their feet, in a shuffling motion, towards the back of the assisting student until they either break down their partner or exit out the back.

Possible Extensions:

If the practicing student knows the Sit Through, this is the perfect place to practice the movement after successfully completing the Belly Down.  

Applying an Overhook during the beginning steps of the rotation is a common movement, especially for wrestlers.  This can be combined with the Limp Arm technique to clear the arm out of the Overhook.

The assisting student can give varying degrees of sprawls as the practicing student is completing the Belly Down.  Then, depending on the success of the sprawl, they can try to spin to the back.  The goal would be to have both people understand what is likely to happen during this movement and while it will be difficult to belly down, it is still the correct movement to get off the bottom.

Possible Refinements:

Make sure the practicing student starts with the Home alone hand so that the bicep never makes contact with the face.  If the assisting student, or future opponent’s make contact with the chin, it may require a different technique to escape Side Control.

Make sure the practicing student, while performing the “thread the needle” brings the near leg under the posted leg (like the technical stand up) rather than stepping the posted leg over the near leg.  This will be nearly impossible with the hand placed near the hip.

Reference materials:

Teaching Reflections:

How did I do teaching?

What could I do better next time?

Did the student gain proficiency in lesson material?