Class 2014-04-09: Side Control Attacks, Americana and Armbar

AttacksHere’s another class showing the basics of two fundamental side control attacks.  A nice feature of these attacks is when your opponent defends against one, the other is often available, and you can swap back and forth between these attacks until you get one of them sunk in too far for your opponent to escape. 


Most fundamentals students have an affinity for Americanas.  Once you have side control, your opponent usually wants to build a frame against your neck, and this often leads to an exposed arm as they are getting into their defensive position.  As always, make sure you have a proper side control before you try to submit your opponent.  Keep you hips low, flattening out your opponent and preventing him from shrimping out.

When your opponent attempts to frame, catch their arm any way possible.  Your head is what they are trying to get around, so if you drop your forehead into their arm and bring your own hand up to your forehead, you can catch their arm, then reinforce the catch with your other arm that you take out from under your opponents head.  Pin the wrist to the ground and put your elbow in tight against the neck.  This helps maintain control of your opponents head, and it also keeps their wrist near their body, where you can control it without worrying as much about your own weight distribution.

Since you started from side control and a gable grip, your locking arm will already be under your opponents arm.  If it isn’t for any reason, all you need to do is slide your hand under their arm up towards your other arm that is controlling the wrist.  Either way, wrap your fingers and thumb on top of the wrist that is gripping your opponents wrist.

After securing this grip, many people try to start the submission, but there’s one more very important step.  You need to move your opponents elbow down towards their hip.  On your average opponent, this will tighten up their shoulder enough to start your submission.  Keeping their hand on the ground, start to elevate their elbow and keep pushing their hand along the ground towards their hip.  Your opponent will likely try to bridge to relieve the pressure, so maintain heavy body pressure as you apply the submission.  One way to help with this is to put your head on top of your own wrist and keep your hips low.  If you are working with a larger opponent, just put your head flat on their chest as you apply the submission.

If you run into someone who is very flexible, additional steps will need to be taken.  This particular video doesn’t show the important step of twisting your opponents wrist to the outside, which will tighten up the submission even more, and also apply uncomfortable pressure to the elbow.  On a hyper-flexible opponent, there is even one more step to take that I’ll have to cover in a future class.  You may have to start to bring their elbow across their stomach and shift your body orientation to reinforce the submission.  I have only encountered a couple people that I have had to do this additional step with, but you’ll know it when you run into someone like this.  They will let you get the americana position and shrug it off because they are used to their opponents being unable to finish before they can find an escape route.  You have an obligation to show them the error of their ways.


A very common defense to the americana is to push your arm out and away from your body.  This makes the grip needed for the amricana impossible, and can even break that grip if you are strong enough.  If your opponent does this to you, you don’t have to fight it, especially when you know they are bigger or stronger than you.  Instead of fighting when there is no hope of finishing the americana, allow them to extend their arm and setup an armbar.

When attempting any armbar from side control you need to be especially careful about your weight distribution.  It’s very easy to let your body pressure get too light as you attempt to get control of the arm.  Since the wrist is far away from your opponents body, you’ll have a tendency to lean over their body.  Do your best to keep your hips as low as possible to maintain pressure that will limit your opponents mobility.

As your opponent is extending their arm, shift your grip from your wrist to your elbow and make sure that your arm is just above your opponents elbow to make an ideal fulcrum point.  With your hand that is controlling your opponents wrist, rotate their arm into your elbow until their thumb is pointing towards the ceiling.  Although not demonstrated in the video, the class was given the additional tip that your hand on your elbow can be shifted all the way up to your shoulder to create a nice V to put your opponents elbow into.

Another angle is your opponent may extend their arm straight up, instead of straight out.  One common reason for this is they are attempting to lock their hands together above their head to prevent the submission.  Although we have other options when they do this, it also opens up an excellent opportunity to transition to mount.  As they punch up, it’s very common for leg discipline to be lax, allowing you an easy path to mount by just following the arm up and sliding your leg across to get mount.  From here you can attack the armbar while maintaining mount.


For both of these attacks, you will have the most success when keeping your body heavy to immobilize your opponent.  As you fight for one of the subsmissions, keep in mind that losing the desired submission may just be an easy avenue to the next submission.  Chain your attacks until you succeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.