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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

27 July 2016

27/07/2016 - Teaching | Women's Class | Americana from Side Control

Teaching #535
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 27/07/2016

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. Lift your shoulder slightly to then insert your hand on top of their wrist.

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.

Saulo has a few extra details in the 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. Move 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.

Finally, you can also wrap their gi lapel over their arm, especially if they are begin very defensive and keeping that arm in tight. This is the same technique I teach from half guard: as a set up for the americana, I find it works just as well from side control. Many of the attacks will work in both positions (naturally side control attacks that function by swiveling round to the other side, like a baseball bat choke, won't have sufficient rotation in half guard).

Teaching Notes: There is now a 30 minute open mat right before the women's class, which I'm hoping can help lead to some more training between those who regularly attend the women's class and those who don't. It also gives me a chance to do some more drilling and possibly sparring, depending on who is able to make it. There were three people there today, which was enough to get in some training. As it is very early (17:55-18:25), I imagine it is never going to be huge, but it's good to have that space. The schedule at MYGYM is quite crowded now, so I wanted to grab the slot while it was still available.

Nothing to add on the technique really, although I think I could still refine my teaching of it. Some newer people continue to get a little confused on how to lift the elbow and paint the mat with knuckles. I'll see if I can come up with any other metaphors to better explain that. Grabbing people's arms and showing them how to do it is good, but some suitably potent imagery would help a lot ('use their knuckles/wrist as a paintbrush' doesn't appear to always do the job). :)

It was also, sadly, Erin's last time at the women's class. She's only been training for a week, but she's managed to get in a lot of mat time, including the seminar. Hopefully we'll be able to meet again on some Australian mats: there are a few people at Artemis BJJ who travel down under regularly, plus I'm planning to make a return visit at some point myself. It's cool that we've been able to help set Erin on her BJJ journey, as after all that is the major aim of the women's class. :D

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