The North South Position Part 2: Attacks & Defenses

07.06.2022 by

One position which doesn’t get as much use as it deserves is North South. This powerful pinning position not only offers control, but also quite a few different submission options. If you haven’t seen our article detailing how to get to and maintain the position, check out part one of these two part series!

This article will detail some of the most effective attacks from North South and techniques for how to escape this highly effective position. Let’s go!

North South Attacks

North South Choke

Obviously, the submission most associated with the North South is of course, the choke named after the position. The super effective and underutilized North South choke.

While this is a great submission, it’s one that has left many grapplers frustrated after they’ve tried it unsuccessfully numerous times. If you miss a single detail with the North South choke, it will not work against a stubborn opponent.

Here are the important details you need to remember for hitting the North South choke.

Start in side-control 

To start the North South choke set up, you actually start in side-control. Be sure to hold a tight side-control and keep your partner flat on their back.

Control the far elbow 

As you’re controlling your partner in side-control, you’ll need to control their far arm at the elbow. Hug it to their side, so they can only defend the choke with one arm.

Wrap around the neck

Controlling your partner’s far elbow opens up a large space around their neck. All you have to do is hook around their neck and transition to North South. Make sure to wrap your arm under your partner’s chin or the choke will not work.

Finishing details

A lot of grapplers tend to mess up the choke once they get to North South by missing important details. 

Importantly, focus on keeping your opponent looking away from you – not towards your midline. You can use your ribs to keep their head facing away from you.

To finish the North South choke, remain flat to the mat and avoid lifting your body up.

Sit back on your toes and slowly slide your weight onto their neck. Be sure to stay semi-sprawled out and to slide straight back to increase your chances of finishing the choke.

Grips

The North South is a unique choke, because you can finish it both with or without grips. If you want, you can just slide back after hooking your partner’s neck and finish it without any grips.

But if you want to use a grip, the best one to use is the same as you would for a normal guillotine choke. Keep your choke hand flat on the mat and lock your other hand on top of your wrist.

By far the best person in the world at this choke is the legendary Marcelo Garcia. He did a masterclass twenty minute instructional covering everything about the North South choke on the BJJ Fanatics YouTube channel. 

Kimura from North South

A kimura is really easy to land after transitioning to North South. Here are the important details that you will need to remember for this set up.

Bring partner’s elbow up

To lock in your kimura grip, you will need to hook your partner’s elbow to lift it up. Normally, when you do this, they will defend by turning on their side.

That’s okay, because doing this makes them bring their other elbow to you. Even if they keep turning on their side, they will eventually give up one of their elbows.

Kimura grip

Once you’re able to get your partner’s elbow up, you can lock in your kimura grip. Grab your partner’s wrist, then loop your other hand under their arm and grab your wrist.

Elbow to chest and finish

Remember to lock in a tight kimura, that you have to stay tight and not give up space. Before turning your partner’s arm behind their back, bring it to your chest first, and go for the finish.

John Danaher has a great breakdown of this technique that is full of great details.

Armbar from North South 

An armbar is another attack option from North South. It’s really simple, with only a few details that you’ll need to remember to pull it off.

Underhook an arm

From North South, the first step in your armbar setup is to choose an arm to attack. Underhook your partner’s arm above their elbow and bring their arm to your chest.

Head to hip

Next, you’ll need to shoot your body forward, bring your head to your partner’s hip, and walk your legs up. Doing this shortens the space to your hips to take the armbar.

Take the armbar

Now that you’re in position, just rotate your hips, bring your leg over your partner’s head, and take the armbar. Remember to keep your knees tight and lift your hips up.

Toes hold from North South

Believe it or not, you can actually hit a toe hold from the North South position. Generally, your partner will be so preoccupied with protecting their arms that they forget about their legs.

Bent knees are your opening

If you’re going for upper body attacks while holding North South and your partner’s being extra defensive, check their legs. If their knees are bent, that is your opening dive down and go for a toe hold.

Toe hold lock

There isn’t anything too technical to this movement other than diving onto your partner’s leg and securing a toe hole grip. Remember that a proper grip for a toe hold is where your pinky finger is next to your partner’s pinky toe.

The finish

Remember that the finish for a toe hold is just like a kimura. Keep your partner’s foot connected to your chest and turn it outward.

Josh Barnett does a fantastic job breaking down this technique.

Back take from North South 

There are even back attack options available from controlling your partner in North South. Here are the details for the simplest back take from the position.

Double underhooks

Your first step is to get two underhooks on your partner. Slide both of your arms under your partner’s arm, right above their elbows.

The grips

This set up works both in the gi and no-gi, but is better in the gi. For the gi, you’re going to grab both of your partner’s collars and pull them up in their armpits.

Then, if you’re doing no-gi, Gable grip your hands and pull your partner in.

Sit your partner up

Your next step will be to force your partner to sit up. Keep your grips and force your partner to sit up as you walk up to your feet.

Sit back and get hooks

Once you make your partner sit up, all you have to do is get your hooks, and sit back. Stephan Kesting demonstrates this easy technique in under a minute.

Defending and Escaping North South

Being in the uncomfortable position beneath someone who knows how to hold North South is not a fun experience. That is why you need to do these important techniques for escaping the position. 

Here is a way to escape the North South position as explained by Bernardo Faria.

Grips

If your partner has a tight over/under lock on your arms, you will need to act fast. Take a grip on the back of their gi/belt and another on the inside of their knee.

Turn

Once you get your grips, you’re going to take a big step over and turn your body.  Make sure to also turn your neck in case your partner goes for a North South choke.

Walk into deep half 

After you turn on your side, you’re going to keep walking towards your partner. Hook their leg and pull yourself into deep half guard to complete the escape.

Start attacking from North South!

Once you drill some of these simple North South techniques, your BJJ game will grow significantly. Your partners won’t know what to do once you start attacking them from North South! For a more detailed examination of how to get to this position, check out Part 1!