The great under performer among the submission holds of jiu jitsu

Jiu Jitsu

There are around fifteen to twenty families of submission holds, each with many many variations in technique and entry. These core submission holds are seen all the time in competition. Arm bars, triangles rear naked strangles etc. are constantly seen successfully applied in all levels of competition. There is however, one well known and foundational submission hold that has a truly miserable success rate. In fact, in twenty five years I cannot think of even a single example of it working successfully in black belt competition at the world championship level gi or no gi. This must make it the single worst performing submission hold among the various foundational submissions in our sport. Most of the other submissions perform brilliantly, but the success rate of this one is utterly feeble - can you guess what it is? It is the Americana lock (ude garami). The only example of it being used successfully that I can recall is by Jon Jones on a badly battered and exhausted Vitor Belfort in an MMA fight. This is very unusual - most core moves of the sport have excellent success rates. The American lock is unquestionably a core lock of the sport. Often it is the first lock we learn and a staple of beginner classes everywhere, yet it scores so few victories that I would understand if an instructor simply stopped teaching it above white belt level. Interestingly the American lock is actually very strong and potentially devastating once it is applied. The failure is not MECHANICAL, an American lock will break an arm just as surely as a kimura or juji gatame or any other (in fact I would argue that the breaking potential of a well applied American lock is superior to most other joint locks) So why the failure to be successfully applied in competition? If it’s not mechanical, the failure must reside in SET UPS/ENTRY and in ability to COPE WITH RESISTANCE/COUNTERS. Do you think this great failure of the submission family can be rehabilitated? Can we improve our set ups to make this lock work in competition? Or is it destined to be forever the under performer of jiu jitsu? Let me know your thoughts!