Home BJJ Training 5 Americana Setups To Help You Quickly Tap Out Competitors

5 Americana Setups To Help You Quickly Tap Out Competitors

5 Americana Setups To Help You Quickly Tap Out Competitors

It’s the Fourth of July in America, which means Americans will be celebrating by blowing things up, eating hot dogs and drinking domestic beer.  I am personally celebrating by submitting my training partners with the most patriotic of all submissions – the Americana! To help spread freedom, I want to share some Americana setups with you!

The Americana (or “Keylock”) is a classic BJJ technique.  Every BJJ white belt with one stripe has seen the basic Americana submission. Many will learn it during their first BJJ class.  It is a powerful submission that can seriously damage an elbow or shoulder.

The general setup is fairly straightforward. From side control or mount, push your opponent’s forearm down to the mat, lock up the figure four, tighten the hold, and lift the elbow. Easy, right? In fact, the Americana is often the first submission we learn because it’s so easy to teach.

Why Does the Americana Disappear?

The Americana is simple to learn, and eager white belts look to apply it right away. But as a BJJ player goes further in their journey, they are less and less likely to use the Americana. On this exact topic, John Danaher posed a question on his Instagram:


Americana setups are the failure, according to John Danaher

I have several theories as to why the Americana disappears at higher levels:

  • At higher levels of BJJ, it is not a simple thing to isolate an opponent’s arm in an exposed Americana position.
  • The defense against the Americana is relatively easy.
  • The Americana can only normally be applied from a top position, so it is not very versatile. For example, an armbar, kimura, or guillotine choke can all be applied from top or bottom positions.

So should you completely abandon the Americana? Surely, Uncle Sam would say “No!” There are in fact some very sneaky and unorthodox methods to setup this submission. Below are 5 unique Americana setups.

The Americana Setups

1. The Americana Trap – Gustavo Gasperin

First in our Americana setup techniques, Gustavo demonstrates a method of “trapping” the bottom side player into giving up an Americana.

YouTube video

2. Funky Americana Setup by Stan Beck

Next up, we have this Americana setup from Stan Beck. This technique should surprise an opponent.

YouTube video

3. Americana Setup from Back Mount by “Chewy”

In an early Chewy video, he shares a tricky way to hit the Americana from back mount by “letting” the opponent slightly escape:

YouTube video

4. Back Step Americana by Dennis Asche

Dennis Asche gives my favorite technique of the bunch. This is a really slick move and the video gives some great details. Notice the similarities to the North-South Kimura:

YouTube video

5. Americana from Bottom Side Control by Mark Stefanc

Lastly we have the Americana from bottom side control. This is perhaps a low percentage finish, but I think it’s a decent sweeping technique. In any case, you should be aware of this version of the Americana:

YouTube video

Looking for more unorthodox ways of getting the submission? Check out our article on 5 Ways To Annoy and Distract Your Opponents As You Hunt For the Kill!

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Jordan Fernandez, BA, CSCS, CPT. Jordan is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt under Aaron Botello at <a rel="nofollow">Sonoran Brazilian Jiu Jitsu</a>, Certified Personal Trainer through the <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.nasm.org/become-a-personal-trainer">National Academy of Sports Medicine</a>, and recreational BJJ competitor. Jordan serves as a board member for the <a rel="nofollow" href="https://traineracademy.org/cpt/home">Trainer Academy Certified Personal Trainer</a> program, assisting with curriculum development and vetting to ensure certified trainers enter the industry with the requisite knowledge and skills to safely and effectively coach clients towards improved health outcomes. Jordan lives in Tucson Arizona where he coaches clients for strength and fitness and runs <a rel="nofollow">Dynamic SEO</a>, a small digital marketing agency for local businesses.