Escaping North/South Position With Your Limbs In Tact

Dan Faggella is a BJJ Academy Owner, No Gi Pan Am Champion at 130 pounds, and recognized expert in the area of leg locks. Dan writes or Jiu Jitsu Magazine, Jiu Jitsu Style, MMA Sports Mag, and more – find more of his leg lock articles and resources at

There are so many common positions that get talked about in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that it’s easy to plan how you would attack and defend from these spots.  Guards, side control, mount, deep half guard…there are plenty of spots for a grappler to plan for.  However, one position that does not get the love it deserves is the north/south position.

It’s an awkward position to be in because you are so exposed while in it.  Your opponent can exert dominant top control and put nothing but dead weight on the top of you while working for an arm to take home and place on their mantle.

A common hold from this spot is the kimura because it is so readily available for the person in top position to go for.  The hold—given the advantageous position of your opponent—can end the match in the blink of an eye; however there is a very easy-to-learn way of avoiding this hold, as well as escaping the position entirely.

Proper Hand Placement To Defend The Kimura

There are many ways grapplers are taught to defend the kimura from the north/south position.  One way, that Kurt Osiander in the video vilifies greatly, is grabbing hold of the inside of your thigh.  Understandably so, Kurt isn’t a fan because overall it’s just a poor grip and can be easily lost.

While holding your belt may work at times, Kurt shares his preferable grip; grabbing your own collar with the arm that is being attacked, and them clamping down with your elbow on his arm.  What this will do is it makes the kimura lock practically useless, and when your opponent goes for the submission, rather than pulling your arm, they will just lift your body off of the mat, which does them no favors.

This is a fantastic defense, because it truly renders the entire move useless.  Chances are very high that they will forfeit the move, or they will continue to crank it, in hopes that they will be able to break your grip and get the submission.

Escaping The North/South Position

Learning how to escape the north south is crucial

Once you make sure their pursuit of the kimura is rendered useless, the next step is to get the heck out of north/south as quickly as you possibly can!  While it may seem like a daunting task with their weight pressing down on it, it is actually a rather easy process to go about executing. Another bad position, side control, is not a cool place to hang out. Check out these advanced side control escpaes and theories at On the Mat!

Taking your free hand, you want to push off of the hip that is on the same side as your arm.  This will attack their base slightly, as well as giving you a point to push off of.  From here, you want to swing your feet outwards, almost as if you were shrimping, while pushing off of their leg, freeing you from your north/south, ideally allowing you to reestablish guard.

On the outside looking in, the north/south is a dangerous spot to some.  But when you break it down and look at it closer, it really isn’t all too daunting. You can check out some more north south escapes in this slick article from Jay Jitsu!

Dan Faggella

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