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Kimura Basics – The Most Versatile Submission

What is a Kimura?

What is a kimura – lets start here:

The Kimura lock is a joint lock submission common in brazilian jiu jitsu that attacks the shoulder joint of your opponent by driving their wrist and arm beyond their back, further than the normal range.

It is considered as one of the most versatile submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is also a highly effective and reliable attack dominate in a variety of different martial arts.

One of the first sweeps I’ve ever learned was the Kimura trap.

Here is a quick (albeit rough) clip of me hitting a kimura trap during one of my early competitions – you can see the goal of the kimura trap is to use the kimura to sweep your opponent and, eventually, end up on their back:

Kimura lock is considered as one of the most versatile submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. To add to that, you can see this highly effective and reliable attack dominate in different martial arts such as judo and catch wrestling.

For those who practice catch wrestling, it is called a double wrist lock. Meanwhile, for Judo practitioners, they would call it either chicken wing or gyaku-ude garami. 

The Kimura lock is being taught at white belt level for both Gi and No Gi practitioners. Once this technique is perfect then it can be really ruthless when applied properly to one’s opponent. 

So what is it really?

Kimura works by isolating the shoulder and the elbow joints with a strong figure four grip. From here, you can either break your opponent’s arm or have them tap out.

Moreover, due to its remarkable versatility, it can be used in different positions like: 

  • close guard
  • open guard
  • side control
  • rolling kimura
  • while standing

Furthermore, some practitioners would also use Kimura lock as a way to control or sweep their opponent. Thus, it is highly recommended that every BJJ athlete learn how to apply this lock perfectly and incorporate it into their game play. 

In addition, this submission can be useful not only in the mats but also in street fights. If you are familiar with UFC, then you would know that a number of fights were won because of this famous Kimura lock. 

Hence, if you are interested in learning more about the history of this great and powerful attack then, read on.

Also, I will be providing some information on how you can apply and finish your Kimura ~

Where did the Kimura come from?

History shows that Kimura lock has been utilized even before BJJ. The move has been considered highly effective and was evident already in the 1500s. This was way before the Helio Gracie and Masahiko Kimura match happened. 

  • 1520 – techniques similar to how the Kimura is being done was noted in German shoot fighting manuals 
  • 1920 – catch wresling’s Lorigo Morelli introduced double wrist lock to the sport 
  • 1924Robin Reed, an a professional wrestler coveted the gold medal in the Paris Summer Olympics with his double wrist lock 
  • 1951– Judokan legend Masahiro Kimura travelled to Brazil and had a fight with Helio Gracie in a match. Moreover, Masahiro Kimura was able to apply this shoulder lock technique to control Helio in this historic match. Thus, resulting in Helio Gracie refusing to submit to the attack, then breaking his arm twice. 

Let’s dive further into the event that happened in 1951. The Gracie family wanted to prove to the world that BJJ is a martial art so effective that it surpasses Judo. Helio, one of the founders, summed up his courage to challenge Kimura. He knew that Kimura was bigger than him and world renowned for his Judokan skills but he still showed up to represent BJJ and their country. 

Also, during the fight, there were over 200,000 spectators. Even the president of Brazil attended that time. 

The fight was set up for 2, 10 minute rounds. Helio refused to submit to Kimura’s double wrist attack and broke his arm. But his brother, just a few seconds after 4 minutes, the white towel.

After the notable event between Helio Gracie and Masahiro Kimura, the shoulder lock gained popularity among BJJ practitioners. To add to that, they named the highly effective and powerful technique after Masahiro Kimura. 

In addition, the Gracie’s were able to establish a good and long friendship with Kimura. 

Here’s a video of Rener Gracie, Helio’s grandson recalling the event that happened in 1951.

How to use the Kimura as a submission?

The Kimura when applied correctly against your opponent will prove why it’s defined as highly powerful. There are numerous ways to apply this technique.

Always keep in mind that BJJ is all about finding the right position before submission. But here are some things you have to keep in mind to be able to use it as a submission: 

  1. Maintain your opponent’s posture broken – Make sure that you cover your bases and make sure that your opponent will not be able to posture up or resist the pressure from the submission. 
  1. Find the correct angle – before you submit your opponent, make sure that the position of their arm is in the correct angle. Why? The attack will not be effective and they will just be able to escape if you’re unable to do this correctly. If so, what should you do? Make sure that their arm is bent at a 90 degree angle. 
  1. Use the appropriate grip – The perfect grip to be used in Kimura lock is thumbless, four finger grip also known as the monkey grip. Why this grip? This type of hold gives you the opportunity to extend the trap arm of your opponent. Moreover, it will be easier for you to adjust your position. 
  1. Pressure – Keep in mind that even if BJJ relies on techniques, you still have to apply as much pressure as you can to control your opponent. In this case, make sure that you’re able to control and prevent your opponent from escaping. 

With everything mentioned above, you will be more than capable of successfully using Kimura to break your opponents arms if they do not tap out. 

Basic Configuration of a Kimura

The basics of how to do Kimura relies on how you’re able to find your opinion. There are different ways you can submit your opponent with Kimura but you must be able to properly position yourself first. 

To add to that, keep in mind that the Kimura is a lever system attack that can cause immense pain and pressure on the other person’s shoulder. 

Here’s the foundation of how to do a Kimura:

  1. Grab their wrist with your 4 finger grip.
  2. Connect your other hand with your wrist, creating a figure 4. 
  3. Once you find your position, force the opponent’s arm backward.
  4. Thus, creating a chicken wing like figure. 
  5. If done correctly and properly, they can only tap or have a broken arm. 

How to finish a kimura

In BJJ, remember that it’s always important to find your position, before you submit your opponent. Hence, how can you finish your kimura after being able to position yourself properly and be able to control your combatant. 

To add to that, you have to make sure also that there is no room for them to move and escape from you. From there, what you will do next is to twist or twerk the figure four form away from the body. 

This will result in damage to the other person’s shoulder. Moreover, the elbow can break also depending on what position and angle you have when you submit your opponent. 

Kimura from closed guard

One of the common accesses to the Kimura is from a closed guard. How is it manifested on the mats? 

  1. Start with your closed guard to set up. 
  2. Choose an arm, in this case we will select the right arm. 
  3. Grab the right wrist of your opponent with your right hand. 
  4. Secure your other wrist creating a figure 4 like.
  5. Make sure that your left arm is above the elbow as you slowly bring their arm to their back. 
  6. Pivot to the right to tighten the lock while you hook your right heel on their back. 

Go over this video to see the different ways to set up your Kimura from a closed guard. 

Kimura from side control

Another way to set up a Kimura is from side control. Note that during this time, you must be able to have a good control over your opponent by making sure you have the correct position. 

Here’s are the steps to do if you want to do a Kimura from a side control: 

  1. You now are able to pin down your opponent and maintain a side control. This is a 90 degree angle. 
  2. In addition you can also place your hip on their shoulder with your head leaning towards the opposite side. Your hip will be putting a lot of pressure on their shoulder.
  3. Keep in mind that to execute your Kimura, you will have a pushing arm and pulling arm. 
  4. In this case, your pushing arm will be your right and the one holding your opponent’s wrist. 
  5. Meanwhile, your pulling hand is the one locking the Kimura by holding your wrist. 
  6. If you are able to correctly position yourself, then your opponent is already able to feel immense pressure on their elbow.
  7. To tighten and finish it, use your free leg to trap your opponent’s head while you maintain the pressure on their other shoulder with your leg. 
  8. From here, force your opponent’s arm away from their body making it imobile. 
  9. Once you’re here, they can either tap out already or you can continue by placing a pushing force with your legs as you pull with your elbow further. 

If you’d like to watch a video demonstrating how to do this, then check this out. 

Rolling Kimura

A rolling kimura is another variation. So what happens here? In this type of Kimura, you set up your Kimura and work on passing guard on your opponent. Thus, landing you in a dominant position.

Quite interesting right? Again, Kimura is known to be highly versatile and so it can be used not only as an attack but as a pass as well. 

Here’s one way to apply this on the mats. 

  1. If you’re standing and your opponent is gearing up to attack by setting up by starting with a shin to shin position. Then you can pass this one by doing a rolling Kimura.
  2. From here, you can work on your kimura by positioning your head on the opposite elbow. 
  3. Your hand close to your opponent’s elbow will cup it. 
  4. While the other hand will go under closer to your opponent’s wrist. 
  5. From here, you will roll forward. 
  6. Once you land on the mat, you can use your further leg to pendulum and work on different techniques. 

Kimura Trap

I previously talked about rolling kimura. From here, you can actually work on a Kimura trap.

So what is a Kimura trap anyway and how great is this move? The Kimura trap limits your opponent’s defense. Thus, giving you the opportunity to set up how you’d like. 

  1. Picture that you just finished passing your opponent by executing a rolling Kimura.
  2. From here you will definitely land on the ground. 
  3. You can maintain your Kimura trap, and your opponent will not be able to face you. Moreover, they can’t get away from you. 
  4. Additionally, you will get to choose what time of set up you’d like to make. 
  5. You can take their back from here, or even move yourself to a full mount. 

What’s so great about the Kimura is how versatile it is. It has proven its effectiveness and power through the years. 

If you are a beginner in BJJ, I highly suggest that you keep working on your Kimura. There are so many things that you can do with it. 

Furthermore, this technique will definitely be one that you can use in your matches or in real life scenarios.

I hope this has been a good read! Catch you next time! 

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