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MMA Mount and Side Control Techniques for Beginners

Updated on March 22, 2014

Why practice grappling?

Grappling is an important component of any fight. MMA fighters who prefer striking tend to practice defensive grappling, while fighters based in wrestling/jiu-jitsu/judo practice controlling their opponent on the ground, and securing dominant positions or submissions.

This tutorial breaks grappling down into 3 categories.

1. Top Position

2. Guard/bottom Position

3. Take-downs


Submissions are included in each of these three categories. Enjoy!



Arm Triangle Submission

Top Position

Top position consists of :

1. Side Control

2. Mount

Any position in which the aggressor is on top of their opponent physically is considered top position. When on top, your goal should be to posture up, meaning create distance to set up strikes. Alternatively if you would like to go for a submission, it may be most effective to stay chest-to-chest and limit your opponents movement.

Strikes from Top Position

1. Elbow from Side Control: This is one of my favorite ground-and-pound strikes. It is a highly effective technique which can open up your opponent and cause bleeding. In order to elbow from side control put all your weight on your opponents chest. Hook one of your arms under an armpit/behind your opponents should to control their movement. Next, use your free arm to land downward elbows to any open areas.

Note: Side control is very difficult to explain in text, please watch the Ronis Gracie video below to understand the position.

Guide to Initiating Side Control

Ground and Pound Elbow Tutorial

2. Strikes from Mount


Getting into mount position should be your priority when grappling. This means you are sitting on top of an opponent who is on their back. From this position you do not have to worry as much about striking technique since leverage will allow you to generate very powerful strikes. Additionally, you will benefit from sitting back and placing all your weight on your opponent so that they can not escape.

Basics of Mount Position

Submissions from Top Position

Note: I will only cover two simple submissions as they are the only ones I recommend for someone starting out in MMA. Arm bars are also very popular, but are a difficult technique to execute effectively.


Submissions are an excellent way to finish a fight, particularly if your opponent does not have experience with grappling. Use strikes to set up your submissions, as they will be much easier to complete when your opponent is attempting to defend your strikes.


1. Arm Triangle: This is choke hold can be completed from either side control or mount. It requires trapping your opponents head, and one of their arms with your arms joined together. Remember, trapping a head and arm can be a dominant position in many different scenarios.

Amazing Arm Triangle Tutorial

2. Key Lock: This submission is practical and not very difficult to implement. It is most effective from mount position, but can also be finished from side control. Take control of your opponents wrist and plant the elbow of your controlling arm on the ground. Reach your hand behind your opponents bicep and hold your own wrist. Now crank this like a lever, pointing their elbow up and pulling their wrist down towards their hip.

Key Lock using Legs: This is one of my favorite variations of the key lock. The mechanics are the same but you use one of your legs to lock up the submission. Watch the video below for a tutorial.

MMA Candy Offers Step-by-Step Key Lock Instructions

Key Lock with Legs (Easier Variation)

Bottom Position & Take-downs Coming Soon!

Stay tuned for two more hubs, Bottom Position & Take-downs for beginners!


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