North south BJJ Guide | 3 Strong Escapes & Submissions

North south can be a frustrating stalling position in BJJ. On the bottom it’s hard to escape north south, but on top you can’t always do much either. Understanding what the top and bottom person are trying to do in north south and what their options are can help you break through such stalemates. In this article you’ll read everything you need to know to be effective in north south from both top and bottom.

What Is North South in BJJ?

North south (also written as north-south and north/south) is a BJJ position in which the top person is chest to chest with the bottom person and controls his head and shoulders. North south gets its name from the fact that the top person is facing north, and the bottom person is facing south. The top person is “north” of the bottom person, and the bottom person is “south” of the top person.

north south BJJ

Why is North South Important?

North south is an important position to know for a few reasons. First, it’s a great position to control and hold your opponent. Second, it’s a great position to transition to other positions, such as side control and back mount. Thirdly, north south provides some submission opportunities (though not as many as other top positions). All in all, north south can be a central position in your BJJ game that you keep cycling through while hunting for your opponent’s mistakes.

What Do You Do In North south?

In the north south position, the top person keeps a tight chest to chest connection to control the bottom person, and is on the lookout for north south chokes or other opportunities.

The bottom person in north south tries to make frames to create space to start an escape. Often, the bottom person needs to wait for the top person to move first, because it’s very hard to escape north south against an opponent that’s only focused on holding the position. 

Submissions from North south

North south is a great position to hold your opponent, but not the best position to attack submissions. Other positions, such as mount, are easier if you’re looking for submissions. But there are some submissions from north south to.

The north south choke

The north south choke is the best submission option from north south (especially in no gi). However, you might find it hard to actually finish this submission.

What helped me the most is when I realized that I actually don’t need to put shoulder on the mat (as is often advised). If you look at real north south choke finishes in high level competitions, the shoulder of the choking arm is always above the neck and the focus is on squeezing your elbow into your ribs rather than dropping your shoulder..

Near side arm bar from north south

The near side arm bar is another submission option from north south. It’s a little sneaky. I’ve never had much success with it to be honest, but I know it works for other people. In the video below you can watch how to do the near side arm bar from north south.

Kimura from north south

The north south kimura usually doesn’t start from north south. It’s more common to grab the kimura grip in side control and then move on to a high north south position where you sit on your opponent’s face. But you can also get into it from the north south position itself. 

Escapes from North south

North south escapes are hard. In fact, north south may be the hardest position to escape in BJJ. But, if you practice a lot, you can definitely learn to escape the north south position. Personally, I practiced it a lot and now I find north south much easier to escape than side control.

There’s two main approaches to north south escapes.

The BJJ Method to Escape North South

All BJJ guys preach the same method to escape the north south position. They tell you to:

  1. Create some space so you can frame their shoulder away with your elbow
  2. Push him away so you can also frame his other shoulder away with your other elbow
  3. Push him away even further so you can replace one of your elbows with one of your knees
  4. Use your knee to push him away so far that you can re-guard

In the three videos below from highly esteemed BJJ instructors (Lachlan Giles, Jon Thomas and Gordon Ryan), you can see that they all use variations of this method to escape north south.

The Judo and Wrestling Escapes from North South

Other martial arts usually don’t try to escape back to guard, because they don’t really play guard. Instead, they try to escape back to turtle. In the video below you can watch Travis Stevens explain how he escapes from north south to turtle.

What’s The Best North South Instructional?

The best north south instructional still has to come out I think, because as far as I know nobody ever made an instructional that’s completely dedicated to the north south position in BJJ.

Right now, there’s The Complete North South Choke by Marcelo Garcia, in which he also discusses the north south position, but he focuses on the choke. 

And there’s Systematically attacking From Top Pins: Side Control & North South by Gordon Ryan which is more comprehensive, but still the side control part is bigger than the north south part.


How many points is North-South BJJ?

North south is not worth any points in BJJ, just like side control. However, if you pass the guard to get to north south, you do get 3 points for the guard pass. But if you get to north south from a reversal (for example, if you flip your opponent over from side control), you don’t get any points.

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