Well, as you say, the key is to prevent them from establishing side control, because it is a position it sucks to be under (they call it “100 kilos” for a reason). In my experience, getting on my side and turning into my opponent is the best way to prevent getting flattened—along with the very, very key component of never, ever allowing my opponent to get a crossface on me. I get on my side, but my top priority with my arms is to fight the crossface.
Originally Posted by clav
Sometimes, if I feel that I cannot effectively turn in, or there won’t be enough space to insert a knee, I may turn the other way instead, and go to turtle. I never used to feel I had much use for the turtle position, but I’ve more recently re-evaluated it and now regard it as a temporary position that I go to in order to avoid getting stuck in another position. You’re coming under my leg and about to pass my guard? OK, I may not have space to turn into you but I can turn away and go to turtle and work to replace my guard. You’re moving to side control and blocking me from turning in? Again, I’ll just turn the other way.
For me, this came with a dose of feeling really awkward and trapped in turtle because I never went to it willingly before, but it’s a hell of a lot better than bottom side.
Let me just say first that I am horrible at explaining things without visually demonstrating, and your best bet for now is to drill sweeps, and focus on getting on one side and shrimping to replace guard.
Here's something too though-
From a tight side control, sprawled on top of you.:
Let's say the fighter is on your right side in side control. His head is across your body. Hold him close, and use your left forearm to push his head away from you and from his body, angling his neck oddly and his head towards your feet. Notice the position of his head and his right arm. You can now kick up your left foot over his neck and triangle choke him, from side control! If no choke you no control his head with your legs and can swing and sit up quickly to roll him to his back and off of side control.
Or, with the head-pushed down position, you have some control over him and can use this position to better make space against a bigger stronger guy, to maybe turn on your side and replace half guard or to try and get an underhook and fight for better position, an escape or a sweep.
Just a stupid little suggestion.
This is what I have been taught as basic escapes from those holds. I'm sure the more experienced can fill in any gaps I may have missed.
Kesa Gatame (Scarf Hold)
Escape 1 - Bridge and Role - Role into (towards) your opponent so that you can bear hug them as tight as you can. From there you role back to your back while at the same time pulling your opponent as high (close to your head as possible). Plant both feet as close to your opponent as possible and do a back bridge getting your hips as high off the mat as possible. Then roll away from your opponent while pulling them over you. This one is extremely difficult with someone that is bigger than you but could be possible.
Escape 2 - Up hill turn - With the hand that is away from your opponent reach up and push the back of their head to the mat forcefully. At the same time turn into your opponent and pull your head out and get to your knees.
Yoko Shiho Gatame - Side locking 4 corner hold -
Escape 1 - Shrimp away - Take your hand closed to your opponent and use the "knife edge" of your hand and push it into his/her neck forcibly to make space. Begin to shrimp away from your opponent as space is created. I like to use my foot to push on their knee to help me get away. Get to your knees as soon as you can.
There are other variations to this but I am not able to use them effectively so I will not try to explain it.
Hope this helps or at least gives you something to think about.