The Americana Armlock Submission is one of the first submissions you learn in BJJ. It is a very simple and effective submission that applies pressure to an opponent’s shoulder. Below, we’re going to detail the history of the Americana Armlock Submission and tips for locking it in.
Americana Armlock Submission Origins
In grappling, the Americana armlock has been used for years before BJJ was established. Judo and catch wrestling practitioners also had other names for the submission before the name Americana was coined.
Other names for the Americana armlock include keylock, top wrist-lock, figure 4 wrist-lock, or Ude Garami in Judo.
Rolls Gracie claimed that he came up with the name Americana Armlock. In the mid 70s, Rolls was friends with an American wrestler named Bob Anderson, who he claimed showed him the submission. This origin is false.
Americana was terminology used in Rio de Janeiro for the figure 4 arm-lock before Bob Anderson was born. The name is actually mentioned in a news piece covering the Helio Gracie/Masahiko Kimura fight in 1951.
The Diario de Noticias wrote: “He [Kimura] inflicted severe punishment, even drawing blood. The decisive technique was the Americana Lock.”– Diário de Noticias 24-10-1951”
It was actually a Kimura(double wrist lock), but it is the more factual account of the submission’s name.
How to do the Americana Armlock Submission
You can generally do this submission from two different positions. Side mount, mount, and maybe top half guard if you’re rolling with a less experienced teammate.
To do this submission, you need to reach across the opponent’s body and grab their wrist. You pin their arm palm up on the mat next to their head. With your free hand slide it under their arm and grab your other wrist palm down.
Keep the grip tight near their head and their arm should look like it is at around a 90 degree angle. Turn the hand that’s holding their arm like you’re revving a motorcycle to plant their arm on the ground.
Finally, lift their elbow using the arm under their arm. This motion puts pressure on their shoulder forcing them to submit.
How to do the Americana from Side Mount
Having a good keylock is vital to having a good side mount game. Here is how you perform the Americana from side mount.
First, you need to have your weight directly on their chest and apply shoulder pressure on their face/head. When they frame to defend, plant their far arm to the mat with your hand closest to their head. Their arm should look like a 90 degree angle.
With your other hand, lace it under their arm and grab your other wrist palm down. Then finally to finish the sub bring their arm close to their head and slightly raise your arm under theirs. Apply pressure to the shoulder an the tap.
How to do the Americana from Full Mount
The set up for an Americana Armlock Submission from mount is a little different from side mount, but with the same ending. Here is how to perform the Americana from mount.
Before you go for the submission, you have to consolidate the position. Bring your knees in tight to limit space for them to elbow escape out.
Generally, a good grappler will have their hands close to their neck to defend submissions. Use two hands on one to plant their arm to the mat. Lock in the Americana the same way as in side mount and get the tap.
Key Details to Consider
Americana vs Kimura
Sometimes people confuse these two submissions since they’re both shoulder locks, but there’s a difference. To understand the difference just remember that an Americana/Keylock is palm up and a Kimura is palm down. The Kimura submission is also a more versatile submission that can be done from multiple positions.
How To Defend The Americana Armlock
In BJJ, the Americana Armlock Submission is a must know for all grapplers. To advance in rank, you have to know how to do this submission. Also if you get really good at it will be something your opponents will have to worry about when rolling with you.