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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

09 September 2015

09/09/2015 - Teaching | Side Control | Transition to North/South

Teaching #386
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 09/09/2015

When moving around to north-south from standard side control, start by shifting your grip. You'll need to place one arm by their near hip. A useful tip from Braulio is to anchor your hand flat on the mat by their legs, elbow near their bum. If you instead grab their gi or their trousers, they will be able to follow you with their legs as you turn. If you put your hand in the way, that acts as a barrier, meaning you can scoot around but they can't scamper after you. Your other hand will normally wrap under their far shoulder, especially if you're looking for a kimura.

As always with top positions, you must make sure you are maximising the weight you're driving into them. Stay on your toes as you walk around, also establishing solid grips with your hands. Press your chest down to turn their head to one side: that is a good general rule of thumb from top position, as if you can turn their head to one side, it is tough for them to turn their body in the other direction.

There are numerous ways you can grip in this position, as ever. A common option is to basically flop your upper body onto their head, bringing your knees in. My personal preference is to move off to one side of the head, driving my weight onto their shoulder, my head low and pressing down, sprawling back with my legs.

You can also experiment with various grips. The most basic is probably grabbing under their shoulders and reaching for their belt, then pulling them in towards you. You could also try putting your elbows into their armpits, or maybe wrap up an arm, perhaps sliding your arm under the head. Another common approach is to have one arm over their arm, while the elbow of your other arm digs into their armpit.

Generally you want to keep your hips low, like in side control, but there are variations where you raise your hips, driving your weight through your shoulders. As Jason Scully over on Grapplers Guide mentioned, if they try that escape where they wriggle out and fling their legs over to take your back, raising your hips can be useful. You can then drive your forehead into their chest to stop them completing the escape.

The best place to learn about maintaining the north-south probably isn't BJJ: its parent art judo is much better at pins. In judo, the orthodox north-south is called 'kami shiho gatame', with lots of variations. For example, the above picture shows three options mentioned in an old instructional book from 1952, Higher Judo: Groundwork, by Dr Moshé Feldenkrais (not only a good judoka, but an engineer, physicist and founder of the eponymous 'Feldenkrais Method').

Teaching & Sparring Notes: Previously I've taught both scarf hold and north-south at the same time, but tonight I decided to try splitting them into separate lessons. I think I'll continue doing that, as there was enough material in north-south to focus on that alone. Also, I was asked quite a few follow-up questions, indicating again that there's plenty there for students to get their teeth into.

I didn't mention Scully counter to north-south escape, but I don't think many people were familiar with the position so don't know escapes from it anyway. Should I make some space to show the escapes this month? I'll see how classes go. There is the back roll, the amusing Kurt Osiander one and the thing I've been trying from Rockwell. Multiple options, which is good, I used to only have one.

In sparring, I was pleased to get a kimura when somebody reached an arm around my head. I trapped that in place, then grabbed their wrist and twisted for the tap. It was a bit spur of the moment, so I need to drill that at open mat to see if it's viable long term, but fun either way. ;)

However, I'm still not finishing off those kimura/armbar attempts on top due to be too cautious. I was also trying to go for a baseball bat choke using the gi tail. Sometimes their gi proves not to be long enough, making it awkward to get the hands in place, and more savvy opponents will block me from getting the second arm in place. Control feels good though, which helped me take more risks: I went for the choke position and one point and got rolled, so developmentally that's good, giving it a try rather than waiting for everything to be absolutely perfect..

Continuing on with usual escape practice underneath, with more Rockwell stiff arms. I think pushing them further down towards my legs would be a good idea, that seems to help. I'm not satisfied with my cross face block yet, as they are eventually managing to grip my gi and start establishing some kind of pressure. I'll keep on rewatching the instructional, as I think I'm missing some details. There's a little Facebook group specifically for people who have bought Artechoke Media instructionals where the authors will answer your questions, should help iron out some problems. I could even film myself doing it? Yay for Web 2.0! 3.0? Whatever it is now. :P

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