Kimura vs. Americana

Kimura vs. Americana – Which One Should You Master?

Let’s talk about two of the most exciting submissions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts: the Kimura vs. Americana! These submissions both target the shoulder joint but have unique differences in execution, range of motion, and positioning.

In this article, we’ll break down the Kimura vs. Americana, exploring when and how to use them in BJJ and MMA, their pros and cons, and the best ways to execute them. Whether you’re a seasoned grappler or just starting, you’ll learn everything you need to know about these powerful submissions. 

So, let’s jump in!

Before comparing the Kimura and Americana submission holds, it’s essential to understand the techniques involved in each. In this section, we’ll break down the grips, body positioning, execution, and variations of each submission hold.

Kimura Technique

The Kimura is a shoulder lock submission hold that can be applied from various positions, including the guard, side control, and mount. 

To execute a Kimura, the attacker grabs the wrist of the opponent with one hand and the elbow with the other hand, creating a figure-four grip. The attacker then applies pressure to the shoulder joint by rotating the arm outward, away from the opponent’s body.

Grips and Body Positioning

The attacker must control the opponent’s arm and body to perform a Kimura. The attacker typically starts by securing one of the opponent’s arms and maintaining their body position to prevent them from escaping. Once the attacker has control, they can transition into the Kimura position by grabbing the opponent’s wrist and elbow.


Execution and Variations

The Kimura can be executed from various positions, and several variations of the technique exist. Some of the most common interpretations include the standard Kimura, reverse Kimura, standing Kimura, and flying Kimura.

Americana Tecnique

The Americana, also known as a figure-four armlock, is another shoulder lock submission hold that targets the shoulder joint of the opponent. The Americana can be applied from various positions, including side control, mount, and north-south.


Grips and Body Positioning


To execute an Americana, the attacker grabs one of the opponent’s arms with both hands, placing one hand on the wrist and the other on the elbow. The attacker then secures the arm in a figure-four position by placing their forearm over the opponent’s tricep and their other arm over their forearm.


Execution and Variations


Like the Kimura, the Americana has several variations, including the standard Americana, reverse Americana, and the standing Americana. Each variation involves slight differences in grip, body positioning, and execution.

Differences Between Kimura vs. Americana

While the Kimura and Americana are both shoulder lock submission holds, there are significant differences in their range of motion, the direction of force, positioning, control, and counters. In this section, we’ll examine these differences in detail.

Range of Motion and Direction of Force

One of the primary differences between the Kimura and Americana is the range of motion and direction of force applied to the shoulder joint. 

The Kimura applies an outward rotational force to the shoulder joint, while the Americana applies a downward and inward pressure.

This difference in the direction of power can result in different levels of pain and discomfort for the opponent and affect their ability to defend against the submission hold.

Positioning and Control

Another significant difference between the Kimura and Americana is the positioning and control required to execute each technique. The Kimura often requires the attacker to secure high-level control over the opponent’s body, such as a mount or back power, to be effective. 

In contrast, the Americana can be applied from a more neutral position, such as side control. It can also be used to control the opponent’s movement and positioning.

Counters and Defense

Because the Kimura and Americana apply different types of pressure and require different types of control, they also have other counters and defenses. 

Defending against a Kimura often involves preventing the attacker from securing the figure-four grip and escaping the control position. 

Defending against an Americana usually involves preventing the attacker from securing the figure-four lock and creating space to relieve the pressure on the shoulder joint.

Kimura vs. Americana Table

Shoulder lock submission holdShoulder lock submission hold
Applied from guard, side control, mountApplied from side control, mount, north-south
Rotational force applied to the shoulder jointDownward and inward pressure applied to the shoulder joint
Figure-four grip on wrist and elbowFigure-four grip on wrist and elbow
Versatile and adaptableSimple and efficient
High degree of control over opponent’s movement and positioningMinimal setup required
Difficult to secure against skilled opponentsAccessible to practitioners of all sizes and skill levels
Can transition into other submission holdsCan control opponent’s movements and set up other submissions
High success rate and finishing powerEffective tool for dominating grappling exchanges

Advantages and Disadvantages of Kimura vs. Americana

Versatility and adaptability✔️
Simplicity and efficiency✔️
High success rate and finishing power✔️
Accessibility and versatility✔️
Difficult to secure against skilled opponents✔️
Requires significant strength and flexibility✔️
Limited applicability in certain situations✔️
Vulnerable to certain counterattacks✔️


The Kimura and Americana have been used successfully in numerous BJJ, and MMA matches to submit opponents and win fights. For example, in a BJJ match, a practitioner may use the Kimura to control an opponent’s arm and force a tap or submission. 

Similarly, in an MMA fight, a practitioner may use the Americana to control an opponent’s arm and apply pressure to the shoulder joint, leading to submission or injury.


Both the Kimura and Americana require a specific setup and control to be executed successfully. In BJJ and MMA, practitioners use various techniques to set up, and transition into these submission holds. 

For example, a practitioner may use a kimura grip to transition into a kimura from side control or mount or use an Americana grip to set up an Americana from the top half guard or side control.

Kimura vs. Americana

How to Defend

Defending against Kimura and Americana attacks is crucial in BJJ and MMA. Being caught in one of these holds can lead to a quick submission or injury. 

Some common strategies used to defend against these submission holds include hand fighting, creating space, and using leverage to escape the hold. 

Practitioners must also be aware of the various transitions and setups used to secure the Kimura and Americana and be prepared to defend against them.


While both the Kimura and Americana have advantages and disadvantages, there is no definitive answer to which submission hold is superior. The choice ultimately depends on the practitioner’s style, skill level, and situation. 

Practitioners should master both techniques to expand their grappling arsenal and be better equipped to handle different opponents and conditions.

In conclusion, the Kimura and Americana are both valuable tools in the grappling arsenal of any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or MMA practitioner. 

By understanding their differences and applications, practitioners can make informed decisions about which technique to use in a particular situation and ultimately become more effective grapplers.

Other Popular Jiu-Jitsu Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which submission hold is easier to learn, the Kimura or Americana? 

A. Both submissions require some level of technique and skill to execute successfully. However, the Americana is generally considered easier to learn due to its simplicity and efficiency.

Q. Are the Kimura and Americana applicable in self-defense situations? 

A. Yes, both the Kimura and Americana can be useful in self-defense situations. However, it is important to note that self-defense may involve multiple attackers, weapons, and unpredictable scenarios. Therefore, practitioners should also focus on other self-defense techniques, such as striking, escapes, and grappling.

Q. What are some common counters to the Kimura and Americana submissions? 

A. Several counters to the Kimura and Americana submissions, including defending against the initial grip, bridging to create space, and rolling to escape. Practitioners need to learn and practice counters to these submission holds to be prepared for different scenarios.

Q. Can the Kimura and Americana submissions be used in Gi and No-Gi grappling? 

A. Yes, the Kimura and Americana can be used in Gi and No-Gi grappling. However, certain variations of these techniques may be more effective in one context. Practitioners need to learn and practice both variations to become well-rounded grapplers.

Q. How important are positioning and control when executing the Kimura and Americana submissions? 

A. Positioning and control are crucial when executing the Kimura and Americana submissions. Proper body positioning and control can prevent opponents from escaping or countering the submission hold. Therefore, practitioners should focus on developing their positioning and control skills in addition to the execution of the submission hold itself.

Scroll to Top