Hit Fit, (BJJ), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 20/02/2014
Dónal has been unwell the last few days and still isn't feeling better, so I've been teaching all the classes this week. Seeing as there wasn't anybody from the Hit Fit location at Bristol Sports Centre yesterday, I decided to go ahead and run the same class as before. It would be a little different this time, as there were more students. That meant I stuck with my usual format, rather than the additional detail I put in yesterday. But I'll be largely copying and pasting what I wrote yesterday. :)
I see the americana as the classic submission from side control: I'm fond of that technique, as it is one over which you can exert lots of control. However, it does have a reputation of being a technique that is mainly used by stronger people bullying a smaller opponent, so if I'm going to continue viewing it as a core basic submission, I need to keep refining my understanding to make sure it is functional whatever your size.
There are various set ups, but I decided to show how to go for the americana from that strong, orthodox side control position I've mentioned before. To start, you need to isolate their far arm. Often the set up is that they've pushed their forearm up towards you (which is why from an escape perspective, you don't want to be shoving up with your arm and trying to benchpress them). A simple Roger Gracie method is to trap their wrist with your chin, then drive their arm to the mat with your weight.
There are different arguments regarding gripping their wrist using your thumb or not. Some feel that having the thumb there provides better control, and that is the instinctive way of holding something. However, most BJJ instructors I've seen describe gripping for the americana advocate a thumbless grip, so that all of your fingers are over the other side of their arm.
That's the direction they want to escape, so that's where you want your strength. It also means you can really push down, rather than squashing your own thumb. Then there's the point Kev at RGA Bucks makes, which is that he feels the thumb can act as a lever for their escape.
Support your hand with your head if you're having trouble pushing their arm to the mat (Cindy Omatsu is showing it from mount in the picture, but same idea). Also be sure to keep their arm away from their body, so they can't grab their belt or gi. The aim is to put the arm at right angles. Another handy tip is to get your elbow into their neck. That means they can't turn towards you to relieve pressure on their shoulder and begin an escape. Finally, you also want to make sure that their elbow is stuck, keeping the arm you have underneath their arm tight so they can't slip their elbow free.
Finish by 'painting' the floor with their knuckles, moving their hand towards their legs, lifting their elbow off the floor. You may need to adjust the angle of their arm, depending on how flexible they are. Make sure you don't give them space by their shoulder, or they can relieve the pressure and perhaps begin an escape.
version on his instructional website, BJJ Library. If they are pushing up into his neck, Saulo moves his body forwards to move their arm away from their side. He then locks one arm under their elbow (again, to stop that elbow slipping free of your attack), grabbing their wrist with the other (this is easier to get if you time it for when they next try to shove into your neck. You can then drive it to the mat. Slide your elbow arm through, grab the wrist, then suck in their arm to tighten the angle, before completing the submission.
Yet another set-up option crops up if they are pushing you towards their legs. Go a little with their pressure into your neck, leaning away as if that escape attempt is working for them, then turn back towards them, driving their arm to the mat with your bodyweight, head and hand. You can increase the power by switching your legs as you move back, then switching again as your return your weight towards them. Alternatively, you can simply turn your body slightly as they push, with the intention to get enough space to go for their wrist, then push it to the ground, where you can finish as before.
Teaching Notes: I didn't show the option for hyper-flexible opponents this time, as I didn't notice anybody being super flexible. However, I think it's a good variation, but makes sense to leave it out if there isn't an immediate need. I was pleased to see both the women in class doing well from the top during sparring, showing good awareness and working for mount. I didn't get a chance to roll with the rest of the class, but observing them during progressive resistance, it looked like everyone was really focusing in on the technique and helping each other. :)
I saw an interesting variation from Dean Lister on BJJ Library, as part of that Roy Dean lockflow I've taught before. On the straight armlock, he grabs the meat of the hand, points their thumb down, then simply pushes the arm towards their head. Looks interesting, so I'll have to try that next time I teach that same lockflow.