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North South Choke Set-Ups and Finishes with an All-Star Cast
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North South Choke Set-Ups and Finishes with an All-Star Cast

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The north/south position is an excellent hub from which to launch attacks, transition, and stay clear of those dangerous hips that aid in the retention of the guard.

Transitioning from a traditional side control position to the NS has numerous benefits, especially if you’re dealing with a bottom player that has a squirrely guard game.

One of the most common submissions from the NS position is the north south choke. By wrapping the neck and using our body to guide the head, we can create an opportunity to catch a nice submission. We just need some good details on the finish to make it happen.

The fundamental cornerstone of Renato’s game is the threat of submission, he turns every position into a dangerous one, and he’s got one of the best armbars in the world. 

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This choke was elusive to me for many years. I just didn’t understand the mechanics of what made it work. After getting some great details I was able to begin having a bit more success, but still the choke remained a less frequent player in my submission game. When I started combining it with other NS submissions, such as the kimura, I found myself adding the NS choke to the toolbox and beginning to have some more fun with it. 

It is very important to understand the mechanics of the north south choke if you hope to use it. The choke is definitely rooted in some very important technique and its tough to nail it without knowledge of proper application. I remember laying there squeezing the head, producing zero results, except for maybe a bit of anger from my training partners in response to the head vice. We want to be able to transition to the choke and apply it in an effective and clean manner. 

So, how is this done?

Let’s look at some north south choke instruction from some of the worlds greatest instructors and see if we can pick up some new details that may spark more success with the submission.

Let’s start very basic with a variation from Alec Baulding. Here, Baulding gives us a very comprehensive look at the NS choke in its most basic form. This is a great place to start. Have a look!

Baulding begins by explaining that he prefers to pursue the NS choke while his partners frames are down. If the frames are blocking the cross face, or in the path of Baulding transitioning his arm for the choke, this may not be the best option. 

Leading with his elbow, Baulding transitions his arm over the head and begins to wrap it, making contact with the floor using his forearm. His entire body now begins to turn as his hip drops to the mat. He then begins to connect his ribcage to his partners cheek, so that he’s able to manipulate the direction of the head using his body. 

As he continues traveling to the NS position, Baulding leaves his bottom hand open and secures a guillotine style grip for the submission. Baulding then begins to flatten himself out and continues to walk his body toward his partners cheek. He then applies a squeeze to the lock, finishing the submission.

This next video is filled with superstar technique, and one them happens to be the north south choke. At 3:30 Bernardo Faria shows us a phenomenal variation of the submission that also includes a very simple set up. This is a must see. Take a look!

Faria begins with an awesome concept. He uses the knee on belly position to create some pressure. This pressure causes his partner to lift his head from the mat, creating the perfect opportunity to get underneath the neck for the choke. 

Faria then makes a hasty transition to the NS position. As he settles in, he pushes the head with his ribcage and begins to walk his hips backward, flattening himself as much as possible to the mat. Faria then clears a space for his head next to his partners shoulder, and locks a gable style grip with the choking palm facing down. This can also be done using one hand, while the free hand pads his partner’s arm. 

This is a great variation with a simple set up that anyone can use!

Noticing a common theme yet? In both variations, a flagship concept is revisited, getting as flat as possible to provide the pressure necessary to make the submission stick. Keep this in mind!

Let’s look at a setup, that can land us in perfect position to snag a north south choke. This one comes to us from Lachlan Giles and it begins at about 3:10 in this next video. Have a look.

This video deals with how to eliminate a near side frame in side control, and Giles uses the opportunity to make a crafty transition to the NS position. As he begins to deal with the frame, Giles first attempts to walk his hips in a circular motion backward. Here he’s looking for his partner to follow him with his hand so that he can remove the frame and clear it. When his partner does not follow, and instead decides to bury his elbow to the mat, Giles pins his hand to his own body. He then lifts his hips and sets the directly on top of his partners frame, burying in between the two of them. Next, Giles begins to reach for the far side of the head while simultaneously turning his hips over and using his ribcage to again push the head in the opposite direction. 

This is another great way to enter the position and begin hunting for the NS choke. 

Before we finish up, Lets get a little crazy. Check this out…

This one comes to us from Renato Canuto. Here, we see a backflip pass with a direct transition to the NS position and the subsequent submission. 

Canuto first initiates a guard pass with a common technique. He lifts his partners heels from the mat, causing him to roll back ward. As his partner recovers and begins to roll back up to a seated position to engage Canuto’s leg, Canuto steps out of the middle with an angular step in the opposite direction. Here, he acquires the head and performs a backflip, that lands him all the way in to a settled in NS position with the choke already set! Not many details here on the choke, but what a set up! Be careful with this one!

So, there you have it. We saw some basic details on how to finish the NS choke and some excellent ways to get there. Working through this material cleaned up a lot of fuzziness for me on the position and the details of the submission. Hope this helps!

Learn 50 Ways To Master The Armbar With Submission Machine Renato Canuto. Always Be Fighting To The Finish, And Learn How To Armbar From Any Position. Check it out here!

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