Class 09/12/2011- North South Bottom

This week was North South week in BJJ class. I decided to focus on bottom escapes. My goal as usual was to build on an idea of posture and pressure rather than string together a bunch of techniques. As always happens in class I often start with an idea that’s not quite fully fleshed out and it manages to work itself out as I teach it. You may be able to recognize that in the videos. That’s really one of the most amazing parts of coaching. I really love it when I’m done with a class and I feel like I learned as much as the students attending class.


The initial posture for North South bottom is boxing hands with the feet up close to the rear. It’s important that your boxing hands are as close together as you can so that the top guy can’t get chest to chest. This will make it way easier to create space. Your feet are close to your rear to make your upa work better. Your head is glued to the floor so that the top guy can’t get his hand under your head. This will make a transition to side control harder for him.

Video of initial posture concept

Drill Time- I did this drill over and over several times through the class to look for improvement as we added to the concept.


If a guy is good from top he’ll either be pinning your hips or your shoulders. Often times if you have good boxing hand position the top guy will slide down your body and pin your hips. It’s easier for him because he can get chest to chest contact that way. It negates your boxing hands frame and is a good strategy. When this happens we need to rebuild our frames in a different spot. We’ll frame on the hips instead. The video will show how to build that frame.

Video of hip frame

Clarifications- After watching students perform the technique I pulled them back in to clarify some details.

The Superman!

Here’s a look at one solution when the top guy really kills your arms by getting deep under your armpits. This makes it really impossible to create frames. This means his entire weight is riding on you and making space is difficult. In this situation your arms are in the way and we need a posture to fix it. We’ll use a superman move to get our arms out of the way and over to one side. This will make it easier to turn over into quarters.

Video of the Superman move


I did a bit of actual technique next. Once students had an idea of the posture, the framing, and how to pressure from the frames I could then show some technique. As always the technique isn’t that important but it’s nice to see some alternate paths from the posture.

Video of technique

Different technique- forklift arms. Apply your bullshit meter liberally to this one. 🙂

Clarification and fixing the technique just a bit.

Putting it all together

Finally the aha moment where I get to the big picture. From North South bottom it’s about the following:

  • Build your posture
  • Use upa to make frames (in order to have space)
  • move away from the frames and get to your side
  • tuck the bottom elbow
  • turn your hips to the mat (land in quarter position)
That’s really it. If you are doing these things then the other techniques and routes that people show will make sense and work. If you aren’t then you are just trying to hit techniques at random.

Video of concept

That was most of the class. Finished with a reset drill where we drilled from North South and went to submission. I reset people a few times to make sure they got a lot of time fighting from position but not enough so that they didn’t get a chance to fight for subs.