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How to be a North/South Houdini
In the world of frustrating positions, being caught in North/South by a strong, knowledgeable opponent or training partner can be one of the most deadly positions you can find yourself in. It's bad in so many ways. First off you're flat on the back. Secondly, your opponent may or may not be controlling one or more of your arms. Lastly, with minimal effort the opponent will be able to wrap their arms around your neck which at the bare minimum just plain sucks whether they have a good choke arsenal or not.
In the videos below, we have champions and legends like Marcelo Garcia and Kurt Osiander sharing a variety of options for becoming a North/South Houdini and shocking the world, or at least your training partners and teammates at the academy with your escapes.
Don't stay in North/South if you don't have to
In the video below, Marcelo Garcia demonstrates that sometimes the best way out of a position is to manipulate your opponent to a totally different position with more options. In this case, he uses his frames to establish a bottom side position, one that has it's own challenges, but Marcelo shares the elbow push escape to get out using his hips to create momentum to establish some space.
The second option for advancing from North/South is similar in that by using proper frames and hip movement to create space, you can use the push to escape the position.
North/South Escape from James "300" Foster
In this video, James Foster first and foremost stresses that you must protect your arms by keeping your elbows tight to the mats. Anytime that your opponent is scooping your elbows for more control, you must immediately address this. Now by pushing the opponent's head away, we are able to bring both arms to one side and secure the far lat of the opponent with the arm that just came from the other side. Then by swinging our hips into the opponent, one can establish guard or go on an attack.
North/South Escape Using the Opponent's Pants
In the video below, world champion Bernardo Faria shows by creatively using a free arm to secure the opponent's pants when they have you in North/South, you can bring your free hips around, reminiscent of James Foster's technique above, but this time securing half guard.
In the video below, Kurt Osiander offers a fun escape that will turn your opponent from North/South aggressor to acrobat in a matter of moments. By keeping elbows tight and doing an upa to create space, one is able to roll up their own knees and trap their opponents arms on the knees forcing them to roll over when the knees are pushed. This can yield a very tight armbar set up depending on how the opponent rolls.
One of the earliest escapes anyone learns is the Upa Escape from mount. Take a more in-depth look at the Upa in this previous BJJ Fanatics article.
In conclusion, you've now taken a look at a variety of options. Think about the key points from each and look for the commonalities that you can implement into your gameplan. One of the biggest takeaways is being ultra-cognizant of where your arms are and who's in control of them. Another key was that moving your opponent is key, but that does not mean lifting them or over utilizing strength. By pushing your opponent laterally instead of up and down, you can free your arms and put your hips in a much better position to be able to come to your rescue and retain guard or half guard.
Take some time and start working these concepts. Let your training partners think they're getting the best of you in the North/South position. Watch their shock as you stun the world and come out unshackled like the famous Harry Houdini.
Continue improving your escape game by taking a look at world champion Bernardo Faria's Escapes from Everywhere Series here.