The following is a guest post written by Vlad Koulikov & Javier Palomo
Kimura… If you’re into Jiu-Jitsu, grappling and MMA you might have heard that word once or twice.
For those who do not know, it’s an arm lock (or shoulder lock as some people consider it) named after the famous Japanese judoka (someone who practices Judo) Masahiko Kimura.
It’s generally considered a bent arm lock as far as categorization goes, where the pressure builds up in the shoulder joint forcing a recipient to tap out and surrender. However, as you’ll see in some of the supplied examples, it’s the elbow or humerus that often breaks if an unfortunate victim decides not to submit or gives up too late.
Why is it called The Kimura?
General nomenclature bills the submission hold as the “Kimura” after an iconic match took place between one of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) founders, Helio Gracie and Mr Kimura himself.
The mastery and skill of Mr Kimura had Brazilians name it after the man himself, although the Japanese name, Ude-Garami, already existed in Judo.
Since Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most popular grappling arts on the planet, the hold is best known under that name. But the arm lock is not indigenous to BJJ and Judo only.
The anatomy of the human arm implies that there are only a few ways you can bend or twist the limb to damage it, so naturally, the submission can be seen in many other submission fighting styles: Chin Na, Luta Livre, Sambo.
Behold Catch As Catch Can Wrestling (CACC)
Catch Wrestler Billy Robinson Demonstrates A Standing Double Wrist Lock
The submission exists in that wrestling style as well. Moreover, it’s one of the fundamental holds in CACC, where it’s identified as the “double wrist lock” (DWL).
The idea behind the Kimura and the DWL is identical, however, there are plenty of differences, most notably the use of a thumbless grip (so-called “monkey grip”) vs gripping with the thumb (“motorcycle grip” or “c clamp”). There are other subtle differences that vary, such as gripping nuances and application of rotation.
Generally in BJJ, the submission hold in question is taught with a thumbless grip to deliver more pressure and avoid thumb locking yourself as the opponent tries to wrench his arm free. Where in CACC the hold is taught using the thumb while gripping. The alleged benefit of it is the firm control of the wrist and defence prevention.
Tony Cecchine Explains The Variation Between Using The Thumb & A Thumbless Grip
The “True” Kimura Grip
I’ve personally heard enough pros and cons for either style of gripping that I think there’s no formula that fits all.
My philosophy is: if it works for YOU then use whatever grip.
Ironically enough, as pictured here, Masahiko Kimura himself used the grip with the thumb on the opponent’s wrist and a thumbless grip on his own forearm.
Additional KIMURA Grips
Below are a few of the different gripping variations that can be used to establish control of the kimura and apply the pressure required to execute the submission.
Javier Palomo Demonstrating The Knuckle Grip Kimura
Satoshi Ishii Demonstrating The Power Grip Kimura
Vlad Koulikov Demonstrating The FBI Grip Kimura
Additional KIMURA Finishes
It can also be finished with one hand either by bending (chicken wing) or actually extending the arm.
Michael Chiesa Submits Carlos Condit At UFC 232 With a One-Armed Kimura
Nick Diaz Submits Josh Neer At UFC 62 With A Kimura
The Reverse Kimura
Lastly, there is the so-called “Reverse Kimura”. The grip has been used a lot in Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling mostly for throws. The reverse Kimura can be utilized in Jiu-Jitsu, too. For further information, Budo Jake also has an instructional about the technique.
One technique utilising the reverse kimura grip is the “Zangief Roll”. The technique is a combination of throw and submission made popular by The Ultimate Fighter competitor and BJJ black belt Jacen Flynn. Although the Kimura is usually finished from top side control or bottom guard, sometimes it’s also finished from top half guard.
Jacen Flynn performs a Zangief Roll at Gracie Worlds 2014 Black Belt Division
Jacen Flynn performs another Zangief Roll using the Reverse Kimura Grip
The Kimura as a Position
Not only is the Kimura an actual submission, but pretty versatile hold for many other jobs in grappling. One can sweep from one’s guard, use the hold to pass someone’s guard, apply a takedown, take the opponents back, advance in other positions and use it for general control.
Most cops I’ve trained over the years swear by the effectiveness of the hold while arresting or apprehending a suspect. That tells you something about its usage for pure control!
Kimura As A Takedown
Karo Parisyan Submits Dave Strasser with a Kimura From Sumi Gaeshi At UFC 44
Kimura As A Guard Pass
Beneil Dariush passes the guard of Drew Dober using a Kimura at UFC Fight Night 146.
Kimura To Take The Back
Goiti Yamauchi Uses the Kimura To Take The Back of Isao Kobayashi At Bellator 144.
Quite a few Kimura specialists have appeared in MMA and grappling. To name a few: Kazushi Sakuraba, David Avellan, Maui Maui, Chris Brennan, Vagner Rocha and many others. All these mentioned athletes do have their own instructional material on Kimura, feel free to check them out.
Notable Kimura Uses
Here are a few final notable examples of Kimura use in high-level competitions and classic matches.
Mark Schultz uses a Double Wrist Lock to takedown his opponent (and break the arm) on his way to winning Gold at the 1984 Olympic Games.
Kazushi Sakuraba Submits Renzo Gracie With A Kimura.
Fedor Uses a Kimura In Combat Sambo Competition.
Vlad Koulikov – Author.
- Master of Sport in Sambo
- BJJ & Judo Black Belt
- Owner of Sambo Fusion
Listen to the podcast interview with Vladislav Koulikov on The Sonny Brown Breakdown.
Javier Palomo – Editor and Contributor.
- IBJJF No Gi World Champion
- Combat Wrestling World Champion
- Host of the Grappler Union Podcast