The usual cycle of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is like fashion. Every few years, certain things and styles tend to come right back into fashion. With BJJ, it is not Gis or rashguards we’re talking about. it is techniques. Every 5-10 years, some move, series of techniques or a whole category tends to re-emerge as a favorite. Unlike fashion though, re-emerging moves in Jiu-Jitsu come back more evolved and polished than before. Also unlike fashion, when something goes “out of style” in BJJ, it’s mostly due to diminishing effectiveness. AS the game moves forward, certain moves become redundant, but only for a little while. AS soon as someone finds a way to make them work, the grappling world picks up on them again and the cycle continues. Every now an then, these com-back moves have a tendency to even spur further progress and create something really innovative. Like the inverted North-South position.
The inverted North-South position is nothing new. It’s just something you’ve never thought of as a legitimate position in BJJ, yet, we all end up in it quite often. The thing is, that if you’re not aware of it, you won’t really pay much attention. This is why naming positions is such an important facet of Jiu-Jitsu. Today’s varied application of the position is mostly due to the re-emergence of the front headlock as an attacking position in modern BJJ. There is a really varied and rich choking game from the front headlock, as well as plenty of transitions. Furthermore, getting the position on top ensures you also have great takedown options as well. Hunting for the back, or even leg locks, become a breeze if you can control an attack from the front headlock.
Where the inverted North-South position fits in the front headlock game is as a crucial checkpoint. Most people see it as a transition, without realizing that it is actually a powerful controlling position. It offers paths to mount, side control, chokes, armlocks, and even leg lock entries. Even better, it can lead straight back into the front headlock, allowing you to constantly switch attacks without losing your position.
Lachlan Giles is the man who originally came up with the concept of the inverted North-South position. The famous Australian grappler and coach is a true phenom in the realm of front headlock attacks. His “High Percentage Chokes: No-GI” DVD set pays a lot of attention to the inverted North-South and all available attacks. It is a work of art and something all perspective choke artists need to have in their collection!
The Inverted North-South Position
There are probably other names out there for this powerful position that different people use. I, personally like Lachlan Giles’ take on it, so I’m going to be using his nomenclature throughout this article. The inverted North-South position is basically a front headlock, with both people lying on their backs. There are a few crucial tips to holding on to the position with any success, as well as transitioning and/or finishing.
Let’s start at the beginning. Imagine you have a front headlock position from the feet. Your opponent is no beginner and knows how to counter some of the usual attacks. So you opt for a slightly acrobatic option and get your feet a close to his and you do a breakfall. In most cases, you’ll use the inertia to pull yourself on top and end up in the mount. Well, not today. Once your opponent lands on their back, you’re essentially in inverted North-South position. The first and most important tip here is holding on to the grip. And yes, you absolutely have to have the arm-in grip. How you grip your hands is not as important as it is that you control bot the neck and the arm.
An alternative to simply holding on to a ball-in-socket or an S-grip is to control the head via a chin strap. For arms control, your goal is to have a tight grip on the triceps, right above the elbow. Keep the opponent’s upper arm high above their should an as near to their head as possible.
Finally, this is another crucial trick. Keep your upper back and feet on the ground, but rais your hips towards the ceiling in a bridge. As unusual as it sounds, this is going to significantly restrict the opponent’s movements.
The Inverted North-South Checkpoint
As a position, you can get to the inverted North-South from a multitude of other positions. For example, if you’re hunting for a guillotine from the bottom, all you need is a simple butterfly sweep. However, instead of finishing the sweep and struggling to get right into mount, simply get your hips back on the ground and bridge. You now have a great position with a fraction of the movements. If you desire to get to mount, you now have direct access via a back roll, instead of going around and running into their legs.
Another option is getting to it from side control. Whenever an opponent turns into you, simply place an arm over the head and go for the chin strap. The arm is going to be right there to control. If an opponent is savvy to D’arce chokes, you’ll have a hard time threading your arm in. However, all you need to do id a backstep and pull their arm and you’ll go straight into the inverted North-South. As you’ll see later this will open up much more chokes than one.
You could also go for the inverted North-South position from a guard pass. Whenever an opponent tries to roll you over, instead of posting with your arms, embrace the roll. Use your arms, however, to get the chin strap as you roll. Once you end up on the ground, you’ll be able to pin them into place.
Now, for the fun part. You have no less a few5 cool choking options from the inverted North-South. First up, you can finish the guillotine, with either rolling over to mount, or going around towards side control. For this, though, you’ll need to secure a guillotine grip first, if you have the chin strap and triceps control.
Another readily available submission is the anaconda choke. All it takes for you is to shift your body slightly to the side of the head. then, use your legs to pry open their arm even further, so you can establish a figure four grip under the armpit. All it takes now is crunching towards the opponent while you squeeze.
Next up is a wrestling secret that is going to change your approach to choking forever. Once you’re in the inverted North-South, go deeper with your chin strap and grab the triceps of the arm you’re controlling. From there, use a hip switch motion to get on your belly and into side control, keeping a really tight grip, Now, simply use the opponent’s legs to the opposite side and you’ll put them to slip really fast!
When you roll towards side control, you also have the option to switch to a D’arce. Your advantage now is that you’ll have all your weight over their shoulder so countering or defending is going to be much more difficult. Even if you do not manage to thread your ar far enough for the D’arce, you’ll be able to hit a Japanese necktie with ease.