How To Do A Kimura (The Legendary Armlock Explained)

Difficult to defend against, usable from different positions, and powerful enough to break an arm. The kimura is a vital technique for practitioners of jiu jitsu, MMA, and UFC to learn.

With the basics mastered, a talented fighter can apply the kimura lock in various situations.

How To Do A Kimura

The kimura is a double wrist lock named after Japanese judoka Masahiko Kimura. Locking the arm from the shoulder to the wrist, the hold forces pressure on the shoulder, leading to submission.

Want to learn more about the kimura lock? In this guide we’ll cover what it is, how to do it, and how to use the kimura in different situations.

What Is A Kimura?

The kimura is a double joint arm lock technique that’s used in martial arts to force a submission. The kimura lock isolates the elbow and shoulder joints, allowing you to crank your opponent’s arm, putting a huge amount of pressure on the shoulder.

Incredibly uncomfortable, this will force your opponent to submit, or risk breaking an arm.

Why Is It Called The Kimura?

The kimura is a traditional hold that’s been used in various forms of martial arts for years. However, it was given the name kimura after it was successfully deployed by Japanese judoka Masahiko Kimura.

Kimura used the double wrist lock in his legendary fight against Helio Gracie. Kimura broke Gracie’s arm twice using the wrist lock, forcing a submission. 

How To Do A Kimura From Guard

The kimura from guard is the most basic variation, and the one that you’ll learn first. 

Begin by getting into the guard position. In this position, both arms of your opponent are accessible. You need to break their posture. 

From here, there are two ways to proceed. First, you can come up to control the opponent’s arm. Force their hand to the mat, and then grab the wrist close to the hand.

Use a five-finger grip for the strongest hold, but a normal grip will work as well for beginners. 

Alternatively, use a hip sweep to force your opponent down. They’ll place their hands on the floor, and you can come forward to control the movement, grabbing their wrist. 

Using a side ab crunch, sit up and reach over your opponent’s shoulder, down and through, to grab your own wrist. Your hands will be locked, and the opponent will be locked into your hold.

Keep their arm tight to your body, and their elbow bent. 

Hip out to free your hips while maintaining control over your opponent’s body. Cross your feet if you can, for a firmer hold.

Remember to keep your looped arms close to your body, and hold the wrist, so your opponent can’t straighten their arm to break free. 

Crank your opponent’s wrist away from you, and towards their head. With minimal force, you should be able to put a great deal of pressure on their shoulder, forcing them to submit. 

How To Do A Kimura From Side Control

One of the advantages of the kimura is that it’s a versatile hold. The kimura from side control is popular with grapplers for forcing a submission. The key to a good kimura from side control is where you place your weight.

Begin in the traditional side control. Keeping the weight centered on your opponent, take control of their far arm. Bring your arm across their body and under their arm, grabbing your own wrist to maintain control.

Keep your opponent’s arm bent, and locked close to the body. 

Move your body, releasing your wrist to hold your opponent’s hips with your back arm. Center your weight on your opponents’ chest, and pinch their locked arm to their body using your head and chest.

Grab your wrist with your back hand, and twist so your elbow is on the floor. Step over your opponent’s head with your nearest leg to control their body, holding their arm tight and bent.

Finish with the smooth crank movement, putting pressure on their shoulder. 

How To Do Kimura From Mount

It is possible to achieve the kimura lock from mount, but this is definitely less common. Lean your upper body forward, keeping your center of gravity low. Grab your opponent’s wrist, then reach your free arm around and under the shoulder.

Take hold of your own wrist to lock your opponent’s arm. To get the right angle, you probably need to roll. Drop your head to the mat, lift your far leg over your opponent’s head, and roll as your opponent sits up. From here, you can crank the arm. 

Tips For Doing The Kimura

The kimura is a technique that many beginners learn, and that can be adapted for different positions. It’s possible to do the kimura from guard, mount, side guard, and even standing.

But to explore the full range of the kimura, you have to know how to nail the basic technique. 

  • Keep the arm help close to the body, to maintain better control. A kimura should be a tight hold, so you can force the sub.
  • Take full control of your opponent’s arm by looping your arms over the shoulder. The kimura controls the shoulder, elbow, and wrist of the opponent. 
  • For better control and grip, grab your opponent’s wrist close to the hand. Avoid grabbing too high up the forearm, or you won’t have full control of the arm.
  • Use the entire body, not just the arms. Too many think the kimura lock is just one arm being controlled by two. However, the entire body needs to be used to keep the hold. When using the kimura from guard, be sure to use the hips and legs to maintain control.
  • Finishing the kimura is all about the pull and crank of the shoulder. By cranking the arm you put pressure on your opponent’s shoulder, forcing them to tap out. When keeping a bend in the arm it’s easier to crank the rotation, without needing to apply excess force. 

Final Thoughts

Mastering the kimura provides fighters with a versatile and effective lock that can be used to exert pressure on the shoulder until your opponent submits. With these techniques, even beginners can employ the kimura.

Christopher Anderson
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