BJJ Street Fight Breakdown: The Cheeseburger Incident, Under Hooks and Americana Locks

The page views, shares and comments for the first two editions of BJJ Street Fight Breakdown were way bigger than I could have imagined. So thank you to the readers of! I do think there is some confusion among some readers. The purpose of this series is to highlight how knowing basic Jiu Jitsu could have saved someone from getting seriously hurt in a street fight or self-defense situation. Some people have clicked on the article, thinking it would show how BJJ was effectively used in a self-defense or street fight situation. Unfortunately, that is not the case. What I am trying to do with this series is to encourage others to train BJJ so they are able to protect themselves if they are attacked or need to defend themselves.

This week, we are going to take a look at the Youtube famous “Cheeseburger Fight” at a Whataburger location in Texas on St. Patrick’s Day on March 18, 2010. Josh (I will tell you at the bottom of the story about how I know their names) is an angry drunk who decided to get a cheeseburger at Whataburger after a night of partying in a yellow TapOut t-shirt and baggy gym shorts. Drunken Josh is refused service at the restaurant and begins to curse at the restaurant staff and patrons. His friend tries to drag him away, but Josh wants to give everybody a piece of his mind.

While everybody is either ignoring or laughing at drunken Josh, Joe decides to taunt Josh by telling him how delicious his cheeseburger tastes. The verbal confrontation escalates into a physical confrontation when Josh charges at Joe, and Joe obliges by taking Josh down as seen in the video below.

Here are 5 key takeaways from the fight

1. Avoid Confrontations with Drunks: Whether you are at a bar or restaurant, avoid the angry and loud drunks. Sure they might be causing a scene and acting like a bull in a china shop, but why become part of the scene when you don’t have to be? Ignore the angry and loud drunks and there is a 99.9% chance you will never see them again in your lifetime.

2. Match Your Opponent’s Level: In wrestling and any grappling sport it is important to match your opponent’s level. The same goes for self-defense. Drunken Josh was taken down since he charged at Joe while Joe lowered his level to attempt a double leg take down. Click here to learn how matching levels and using your head and hands as a line of defense will help you fend off take down attempts. 

3. Wear Underwear: I don’t know what happened to Josh’s underwear. Maybe he traded his underwear with a leprechaun in exchange for an imaginary pot of gold. Whether you want to wear boxers or briefs is up to you. Just wear something.

4. Under Hook to Maintain Side Control and Prevent the Back Take: At 2:00, Joe has Josh in side control, but Joe holds a headlock rather than  under hooking Josh’s left arm to secure Josh’s back flat on the ground. Without the underhook, Josh is able to sneak out the back door and temporarily take Joe’s back. Against a tougher and sober opponent, Joe could have paid dearly for this technical mistake. Luckily he was fighting drunken Josh. Here are some tips on maintaining side control and preventing the back take from the legend, Xande RIberio. 

back door
Joe loses side control by not securing an under hook and Josh sneaks out the back door and takes the back.

5.  Defend the Americana Lock: Drunken Josh momentarily takes Joe’s back, but Josh floats too high without securing hooks with his feet and is flipped over Joe and is now pinned to the ground with Joe on top of him in side control. The Americana lock s a simple arm lock that can destroy your shoulder if you are caught in it without knowing how to defend it. If Joe was able to correctly apply the Americana and crank it, drunken Josh could have needed surgery and several months of recovery. It is important to know how to defend this hold, since there is no tapping on the streets or a self-defense situation. Here are two examples of counters to the Americana from Rener and Ryron Gracie and Keith Owen.


So, how did I know the two men’s names were Josh and Joe? Well, after the confrontation on St. Patrick’s Day, the two men reconciled on a morning radio show. You can watch them recall their chance encounter in the video below. In the end, if there is a loud, angry, obnoxious drunk guy, the first line of defense is to ignore him. Confronting and taunting him is not a wise move since it could escalate into violence as it did in this situation.


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