The only thing worse than being stuck in a really bad position in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is being utterly and completely exhausted. Now imagine that you’re stuck in one of the wort positions the port has to offer and you’re completely drained of energy as well. You might think that most positions in BJJ where you’re on the bottom fit the bill. Still, even from high-pressure positions like the mount, surviving can be a little bit easier than one specific position. Getting trapped there for the first time is going to get you tired faster than anything else you experience in grappling. Welcome to the North-South position. The, arguably, toughest position in grappling to be in and one of the hardest to escape. Are there any effective North-South escapes to consider or should you just wait for a mistake? Let’s find the answer.
There is something about the North-South position that makes people cringe. Even in the best of circumstances, it is a highly uncomfortable position to be in. That said, having someone on top in No-Gi, sweat dripping from everywhere is a great way of discovering whether you have claustrophobic tendencies. If you do, you’ll start panicking and fidgeting around, ending up exhausted in seconds. Not really the outcome you want. Even if you’re calm, the position is such that you’re natural instincts are only going to get you stuck deeper. The instinctive pushing of your opponent is not one of the North-South escapes you should consider. technical and very patient movements are the only way out.
North-south escapes are going to be an uncomfortable venture. Ending up in the position is the thing you should’ve avoided in the first place. or, in the words of Kurt Osiander, “you f#*$^d up a long time ago”. If you’re at the bottom of North-South, the first aspect of escaping is accepting the discomfort you’re about to be in. Also, be prepared to experience that discomfort for a while, until you manage to set up your escapes. With that out of the way, we can look at how exactly you can get out of BJJ’s most despised position.
Stuck In North-South
So, on to the North-South position. Yeah, you’ll have to read a bit more before we get to the actual North-South escapes. Unless you know what the position and its weaknesses are, there’s no point in trying to get out. You’ll just end up thinking they don’t work. This, in turn, will lead to you trying to muscle your way out. Which will get you, as we previously saw, exhausted.
The North-South position is a variation of side control, where the opponent is actually on top of your head. More precisely, their belly should be on your head. Their elbows must go under your elbows, or you’ll be able to use frames. Furthermore, they usually keep their knees tucked in, creating a tight position around your head and shoulders. In certain situations, they might be sprawled out, exerting lots of pressure.
Escaping the position won’t happen unless you manage to get your structure in order. This means defending first, before looking to get out and even counter, should the opportunity arise.
Learn a few more North-South escapes from Dean Lister himself. Actually, learn a bunch of escapes from all kinds of positions. Get the “Worry Free Escapes” DVD set and enjoy your private with Dean Lister! Limited time offer!
By defending the North-South position, I mean denying your opponent the controls they need to proceed to attack. The first step in any defense strategy would be to prevent the position beforehand. However, as we said, the goal today is to look at North-South escapes once we’re neck deep.
The first order of business is looking to collect your arms close to your chest. This serves two major purposes that are essential for any impending North-South escapes. The first one is to deny the opponent control over your upper arms and elbows. This will make holding you in place really difficult. The second purpose is to create a structure that will allow you to create space between you and your opponent.
When defending the North-South position, creating space between you and your opponent is everything. Without space, you’ll be in a hand fighting battle which probably won’t end well for you. Once you have space, do an Upa. Now, you can actually move and cause all kinds of trouble to your opponent. Space is the foundation of all North-South defenses, that can eventually lead into escapes or even counters.
Actually escaping the position is going to require some timing and technique in addition to creating space and denying control. With Noth-South escapes, you can either roll out or roll your opponent over.
The first escape is a fairly simple one. Once you have a successful defense structure, your goal is to use your arms to trap the opponent’s forearms to the mats. To do this, you’ll need to open your elbows to your sides but keep them on top of the opponent’s arms. Next, you’ll need to move fast and get the both your arms on the same side of the opponent’s head. Push on the neck with one arm to get the other to that side. Afterward, establish grips over and in both armpits. Escaping now is as easy as rotating toward the opponent on the opposite side of their head.
The second escape is probably even simpler. The same basic defense principles apply, but now, instead of pinning the arms you’ll keep your arms tightly on your chest. You’ll use the Upa to create space and a frame. To do that, do the bridge, but leave your arms extended when you go back down. Now you have enough space to tuck your knees towards your chin. This will get your knees in between you and your opponent. Once you’re there, get both your arms to the triceps of their arms, near the armpits. At the same time, thread both knees on the biceps on each arm. Rock with your feet towards the mats and your opponent is going to fly right over.
Countering from the bottom of the North-South position is only something for advanced students. Namely, it’s really easy to make a mistake and end up stuck even worse. The best way is to use any of the North-South escapes above. However, in certain cases, where the opponent is also savvy about what’s going on, you’ll need different options.
One such great option is the Squirrel lock. this is basically a Kimura, only with your legs instead of your arms. For the Squirrel lock, you basically want to end up in position for the second escape above. Once you do though, and you can’t rock your opponent over, you can go for an armlock. Focus on one side an switch your arm to control the wrist of the opponent. Shove your knee as deep towards the armpit as possible. Now, you’re going to rotate a little bit, so that you can swing your other leg over the opponent’s upper arm. Once in, thread a foot under their forearm for a hook. You’ll need to get the knee of your first leg out to achieve this.
Finsihignthe Squirrel lock is not hard from there. You can either get a tap right there or roll the opponent over and finish from top side control.