Class 04/25/2011- North South Bottom

This week’s topic was north south. I decided to focus on bottom game last night. As always I don’t necessarily like to address a position with techniques. I wanted to address it with basics of posture and pressure. With north south bottom I identified 3 important areas:

  1. Posture- Boxing hands with elbows drawn in as close as possible. This gives you some separation right away from the top guy. His chest is not flat against yours, and it makes it easier to build frames.
  2. Pressure- This is primarily built with the lower body. The pressures we’ll look at include the following:
    1. Upa
    2. Shrimp
    3. Pendulum
    4. Knees in
    5. Kick over
    6. Hip heist
  3. Frames- We’ll use our arms to frame. The purpose of the frame is to hold space so that we have room to get up on our side. This is the basis of our escape.


I introduced a drill to start. Top guy hold or submit from top. Bottom guy improves their position. If the bottom guy escapes he goes right back and starts over. I had the bottom guy start from good posture.

Video of Posture fundamentals and intro to the day’s lesson.


Once you build a proper posture from bottom you can begin to pressure using your lower body. The video below will describe the 6 pressures I chose to introduce from the position. There may be more pressures but this is all I ever use.

After the intro to pressures I had students drill again. This time the top guy was holding and bottom guy applying the pressures from the posture attempting to escape. I used a call out drill where I called out the pressures. I did this because there were so many (6) that I thought students would not remember them all if I didn’t do it that way. I wanted them to experience all the pressures and see how they worked against resistance.

Video of students drilling.


Once students had an idea of how to posture and how to pressure I wanted to give them a simple objective that sets up the escape. I went with something I learned from Mike Sweeney of Martial Arts Planet. He calls it the gold coin posture. It’s simply getting the bottom elbow pulled in deep and past your body. Once you hit this position with the bottom elbow the escape is almost guaranteed. The posture and pressure are simply a means to this objective. If students concentrate on the objective instead of escape they will build better escape posture which will, in turn, improve their escapes.

Video of gold coin objective.

I had students drill this. Bottom guy was trying to get to the objective (gold coin) and top guy was just trying to hold. This type of drill is called an objective drill.


We now have nearly a complete package. We need to look a bit more closely at building frames. The purpose of the frames is to give us some space. The space is needed to get on our side. Getting on our side is necessary for getting the gold coin posture. The gold coin posture is necessary for escape. Some key points about frames are the following:

  • There are only 2 frames in BJJ. The short frame is built with the arm bent at the elbow. The long frame is built with a straight arm.
  • Frames are structural. If you are using strength then it’s not a frame.
  • Frames are put in place with an upa. You do not bench press to put a frame in place.
  • Frames are for creating space to move away from. They are not for shoving or pushing or moving the other guy.

In thinking about frames from the bottom I decided to look at 3 different postures from the top guy. They are the following:

  1. Top guy pinning the shoulders. His chest is on the bottom guys upper chest area. Bottom guy has good boxing posture.
  2. Top guy is pinning hips. His head is off to one side touching the mat.
  3. Top guy is pinning the shoulders. Bottom guy’s arms are not in posture. Top guy has his elbow in bottom guy’s arm pits.

Video of the 3 postures

These three postures are important because they require slightly different frames in order to create space to move. We’ll look at those one at a time.

Video of Posture 1 from above

Video of Posture 2 from above

Video of Posture 3 from above

Drilling again


  1. If I had to be critical, I would say, don’t give the camera detail to a guy with epilepsy. But seriously, great knowledge. Thanks

  2. There are only 2 frames in BJJ. The short frame […] the long frame

    This is why I love reading your posts. You concisely outline the key points of BJJ. I spent years avoiding long frames because I was told never to extend my arms so as to prevent the armbar.

    Your blog helps me a lot. Thank you for sharing it.

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