Do you know what Marcel Garcia is famous for in Jiu-Jitsu? If your answer is guillotined, you’re not wrong. If you answered butterfly guard, once again you’re correct. Also correct are X-guard, back attacks and plenty of other moves. However, one move that Marcelo really enjoyed doing with a high success rate is not very often associated with him. Actually, the North-South Choke is not really associated with anyone. This blatant disregard for such a powerful move remains s mystery to me. that said, not everyone ignores this choke. Plenty of grapplers get it in rolling, and some even in competition. But it is not a mainstay of BJJ which makes it that more powerful and dangerous if you really get the hang of it.
Personally, I was on the “North South Choke is useless” bandwagon until a couple of years ago. I gave it a try, actually, I gave it a lot of tries. Something didn’t really click and I couldn’t find a way to make it work. Since I had no instructors or teammates that were using it with any success I completely abandoned it. Years later, and plenty of Youtube videos behind me I stumbled upon this nasty choke by accident. Once again it looked intriguing, but this time I put the research in. What I ended up with was a weapon that solved a big problem of my game.
Since I got a herniated disc in my neck, I decided to give inversions and the tornado guard a rest. So, I decided to look into positions that keep my neck completely safe. One of those positions that caught my eye was the front headlock. Since I already loved doing D’arce chokes, this was a no-brainer. However, it turns out that if you D’arce people too much, they’ll go and figure out a defense. One of the top things people did was roll on their back s so they could release the arm. This brought me to the North-South position but without a follow-up submission. Until the North-South choke got back into the frame.
Another fan of front headlock chokes is obviously Lachlan Giles, the coach of Craig Jones. The Australian black belt has a great instructional out on “High Percentage Chokes; No-Gi”. In this DVD set, you’ll find all kinds of front headlock chokes along with some key details on the North South choke.
The North-South Position
Before we get into the choke itself, let’s take a look at one of BJJ’s most notorious positions – The North-South. North-South is basically a side control variation in which you’re on top of your opponent. Your head should be on their belly with your belt right over their head. The legs can either be tucked under or you can have them sprawled out. Your arms need to be under the arms of your opponent, otherwise, they can look to get out of the position.
As funny as the position might seem it can be really difficult to get out of it. The only problem with the position is the lack of direct attacking options. yes, you could transition into armbars, front headlock chokes or to mount, but none of them works without switching position. This is why the North-South choke has such great potential. it can turn a position of control into a position to finish a match without even moving a muscle.
The trouble with the North-South choke is that people see it as a strong man move. It is an undeserved reputation, to say the least. No, contrary to popular belief, you do not need massive lats or huge biceps in order to get the choke. Putting someone to sleep from the North-South position is as easy as placing one arm around their head. Well, that and some other minor adjustments. The point, once again, is that technique is universal. you do not need strength, flexibility or any other quality to perform a North-South Choke successfully.
Getting the North South Choke
The North-South choke is a blood choke that works by applying pressure to both carotid arteries in the neck. Unlike most chokes did from the front, this is not an arm triangle choke. It works by compressing the artery on one side with your biceps, and on the other side with your latissimus muscle.
To finish the choke remember that there’s no point in just squeezing. For the North-South choke, you need to make sure you have your arm as deep under their head as possible. This is going to ensure your bicep muscle is in the right place to choke, As for your lat muscle, you’re going to need to move your whole body. To get the lat to their neck, you’ll need to move your whole body backward and towards their head. This is going to both places choking pressure on the neck, as well as pull their head away from their shoulders, opening up a lot of space for choking. Only with all this in place, you can think about putting your palms together and giving it a little squeeze.
Finally, back to the first step – setting it up. If there’s on detail that changed myNorth-South choke forever it is this – trap the opponent’s arm on one side to their body. This is crucial to stop any defensive attempts. from the North South simply use one fo your hands to pin their wrist to their belt. This will cause your opponent to turn to that side, exp[osing the neck so you can get your arm around it. keep holding on to the trapped arm until your body is in place. Only release when you’re ready to grip palm-to-palm in order to finish the choke. Works like a charm every time!