The Kimura lock, originally referred as gyaku ude-garami or reverse arm entanglement, is one of the most versatile and devastating submission lock in Jiu jitsu. This shoulder lock may be similar to a Key Lock or Americana, except that it is reversed. It is often used on a closed guard or side control positions.
The application is rather simple and easy. You begin by grabbing the wrist firmly with the hand closest to the opponent’s head. From there, you need to support your wrist with the other hand. By cranking their arm counterclockwise, you will be able drive the body of your opponent towards the ground and apply tremendous pressure to his arms. The Kimura can be so powerful that it can cause injury in three areas – the shoulder joint, the elbow joint, and the upper arm bone. The majority of the pressure is either on the shoulder or elbow depending on how you have your arms positioned. Failure in escaping the lock may lead to serious damage either rotator cuff sprain, or worse, rotator cuff tear.
But before we commence with the discussion you might be wondering – “wait, why it is called Kimura?”
The Kimura was named after its innovator Masahiko Kimura, who used the arm lock to defeat one of the founders of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Hélio Gracie in a challenge match that took place in Brazil in 1952. The match lasted 13 minutes and ended when Kimura caught Gracie in a reverse arm lock. From there on, the technique came to be known as the Kimura Lock. It was also the first time a Jiu jitsu world championship match was held outside of Japan.
Since the submission hold is dependent on strength, escaping will be easier said than done. You’re immediately outnumbered two hands to one when you’re attacked by with a Kimura. But here we explore the 6 ways to defend against Kimura:
1. Leg Hook Defense
As quickly as you can, wrap your hand inside your leg. Keep your other hand over your other knee to prevent your opponent from hooking his leg in and doing an elevator sweep. The opponent will have no choice but to repose once he realize that he won’t be able to pull your arms out.
2. Stacking and Sliding In
Jimmy Smith of Fight Quest shows us two ways to defend against Kimura. First is by putting your weight on your shoulder and grabbing your opponent’s hand from the inside. You must continue stacking up on your opponent and pushing forward to collapse the Kimura. Another option is by sliding in your knees inside your opponent’s guard and wrapping your free hand around his neck as you move to the back of his body. From that position, you can then apply a rear naked choke.
3. Clamp Sweep
This technique also provides a good opening for a reversal. You need to move backwards first to make sure that your opponent won’t be able to trap your other hand when you move it on the other side of his body. You can then lock it with your other hand to ensure a good support. And by bridging your body, you can dump your opponent to his back and employ an arm bar or a north south choke.
4. Hook and Lift Defense
This is a good defense against Kimura on a side mount. You can use your free instep to hook the opponent’s legs. Make sure that you have your other leg on top to prevent your opponent from jumping into side mount. Start lifting with your legs as you dump their body over. You need to immediately use your other arm to secure the lock as you take control of opponent’s back.
5. Roll Over and Scramble Defense
This is the Kimura defense that Minotauro Nogueira was supposed to execute against Frank Mir. Once the Kimura is locked-in, you can sit up and use your body to sweep your opponent over. While you’re on top, make sure that you clasp your free hand to the other hand from the back as you roll over again. With the support of the other hand, your opponent won’t be able to rotate your arms. Nogueira failed to lock his hands together that resulted to a broken arm.
6. Grip Strip Counter
As quickly as you can, you need to walk your legs toward your hand. Grip the inside of the knee as you lift it above the ground. Use your free hand to push the opponent by his triceps and insert the outside knee to strip his grip. You can then roll over to apply a triangle choke or a side control.
Stay out of the Kimura as much as possible. You should always monitor where your hands are. Ideally, you want to have your arms under the opponent’s armpit. This will make more difficult for your opponent to torque your arms for a Kimura. Always use your free arm to create space some time. The good thing is that you’ve already learned how to defend against it if ever your opponent still manages to pull off a Kimura.