Grapplers Graveyard

Kimura Lock: One of BJJ’s Best Moves

kimura lock bjj

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that focuses on ground fighting and submission holds. One of the most effective and versatile moves in BJJ is the Kimura lock. Named after the famous judoka Masahiko Kimura, this move has a rich history and many uses. In this guide, we’ll explore the Kimura, including its history, how to do it, different variations, and why it’s important in both BJJ and mixed martial arts (MMA).

Introduction to the Kimura

What is the Kimura?

The Kimura lock, also called the double wristlock, is a strong submission move used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and mixed martial arts (MMA). It targets the shoulder joint, forcing the opponent to submit or risk serious injury. The Kimura is named after Masahiko Kimura, a famous judoka who used this move to defeat Helio Gracie in 1951.

Importance in BJJ and MMA

The Kimura is a key move in BJJ and MMA because it’s versatile and effective. You can use it from many positions, like guard, side control, and even standing. It helps you control and submit opponents, making it a valuable tool for grapplers and fighters. Learning the Kimura can greatly improve your overall grappling skills, giving you a reliable submission option in both competitions and self-defense situations.

History of the Kimura

Origins in Judo

The Kimura lock comes from judo, where it’s called the “gyaku ude-garami” or reverse arm entanglement. This move was used in judo long before it became popular in BJJ. It controls and submits opponents by twisting the shoulder joint, a principle that hasn’t changed.

Masahiko Kimura vs. Helio Gracie

The Kimura lock became famous on October 23, 1951, when Masahiko Kimura used it to defeat Helio Gracie in a historic match. Kimura, one of the greatest judokas ever, was challenged by the Gracie family to test their Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu against his judo. The match ended with Kimura using the gyaku ude-garami, which the Gracies later named the Kimura in his honor.

Evolution in BJJ

Since it was introduced to BJJ, the Kimura has evolved to fit the sport’s unique style. BJJ practitioners have created many variations and setups for the Kimura, making it a versatile and essential part of grappling. Today, it’s a basic move taught to students of all levels, from beginners to advanced competitors.

Anatomy of the Kimura Lock

Key Parts

The Kimura lock has several key parts that work together to create a strong submission. These include:

  • Grip: You secure a figure-four grip on the opponent’s arm, with one hand holding their wrist and the other hand gripping your own wrist.

  • Positioning: Proper body positioning is crucial to maximize leverage and control. You must position your body to isolate the opponent’s arm and shoulder.

  • Leverage: By using your body weight and positioning, you apply pressure to the opponent’s shoulder joint, forcing it into an unnatural and painful position.

How It Works

The Kimura lock works by twisting the shoulder joint beyond its normal range of motion. This is done by:

  • Isolating the Arm: Your grip and positioning isolate the opponent’s arm, preventing them from using their body to defend.

  • Rotating the Shoulder: You use your body to rotate the opponent’s shoulder joint, creating immense pressure on the ligaments and tendons.

  • Applying Force: By leveraging your body weight and positioning, you apply force to the shoulder joint, causing pain and potential injury if the opponent does not submit.

Basic Kimura Technique

Step-by-Step Guide

Doing the Kimura lock requires precision and attention to detail. Here’s a step-by-step guide to performing the basic Kimura from the guard position:

  1. Secure the Grip: From the guard position, reach over your opponent’s arm and secure a figure-four grip. Your right hand should grab their wrist, and your left hand should grab your own wrist.

  2. Break the Posture: Use your legs to break your opponent’s posture, pulling them forward and off balance.

  3. Hip Escape: Perform a hip escape to create an angle, positioning your body perpendicular to your opponent.

  4. Isolate the Arm: Use your legs to trap your opponent’s arm, preventing them from defending.

  5. Apply the Lock: Rotate your body and use your arms to apply pressure to the opponent’s shoulder joint, forcing them to submit.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When doing the Kimura, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can weaken the move:

  • Poor Grip: Make sure your figure-four grip is secure and tight. A loose grip can let your opponent escape.

  • Incorrect Positioning: Proper body positioning is crucial. Make sure to create an angle and isolate the opponent’s arm effectively.

  • Lack of Control: Maintain control of your opponent’s posture and arm throughout the move. Losing control can result in a failed submission attempt.

Kimura from Guard

Closed Guard

The closed guard is one of the most common positions to do the Kimura. From this position, you can effectively control your opponent’s posture and isolate their arm for the submission.

Half Guard

The half guard offers unique chances to set up the Kimura. By using your legs to control your opponent’s lower body, you can create openings to secure the figure-four grip and apply the lock.

Butterfly Guard

The butterfly guard allows for dynamic transitions and setups for the Kimura. By using your hooks to control your opponent’s movement, you can create angles and opportunities to secure the submission.

Kimura from Top Position

Side Control

From side control, the Kimura can be a powerful submission option. By isolating your opponent’s arm and using your body weight to control their movement, you can apply the lock with significant leverage.


The mount position provides excellent control and opportunities to set up the Kimura. By maintaining a dominant position, you can isolate your opponent’s arm and apply the submission with minimal resistance.

North-South Position

The north-south position offers unique angles and leverage for the Kimura. By controlling your opponent’s upper body and isolating their arm, you can apply the lock with precision and force.

Kimura from Standing Position

Takedown Setups

The Kimura can be used as a setup for takedowns from the standing position. By securing the figure-four grip and using your body weight to off-balance your opponent, you can transition to a takedown and apply the submission on the ground.

Transition to Ground

From the standing position, the Kimura can be used to transition to the ground while maintaining control of your opponent’s arm. This allows for smooth transitions and opportunities to apply the submission.

Defending the Kimura

Recognizing the Setup

The first step in defending the Kimura is recognizing the setup. By being aware of your opponent’s movements and grip, you can anticipate the submission attempt and take preventive measures.

Effective Counters

Effective counters to the Kimura include:

  • Posturing Up: By posturing up and creating distance, you can prevent your opponent from securing the figure-four grip.

  • Rolling Out: Rolling out of the submission can help you escape the lock and regain a neutral position.

  • Using Your Free Hand: Use your free hand to break your opponent’s grip and create space to escape.

Escaping the Lock

If your opponent has already secured the Kimura, escaping the lock requires quick and decisive action. Techniques for escaping the Kimura include:

  • Rotating Your Arm: Rotate your arm in the opposite direction of the lock to relieve pressure and create space to escape.

  • Bridging and Rolling: Use a bridge and roll technique to create momentum and escape the submission.

Advanced Kimura Variations

Kimura Trap System

The Kimura Trap System is an advanced series of techniques that use the Kimura grip to control and submit opponents from various positions. This system allows for dynamic transitions and multiple submission options.

Reverse Kimura

The Reverse Kimura is a variation that targets the opponent’s arm from a different angle. This technique can catch opponents off guard and provide unique submission opportunities.

Kimura to Armbar Transition

The Kimura to Armbar transition is a powerful combination that allows for smooth transitions between submissions. By using the Kimura grip to control your opponent’s arm, you can transition to an armbar and apply additional pressure.

Kimura in MMA

Notable MMA Fighters Using Kimura

Several notable MMA fighters have successfully used the Kimura in their fights, including:

  • Kazushi Sakuraba: Known as the “Gracie Hunter,” Sakuraba used the Kimura to defeat several members of the Gracie family.

  • Frank Mir: Mir used the Kimura to submit Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in a memorable UFC fight.

Strategic Applications in Fights

The Kimura is a valuable tool in MMA due to its versatility and effectiveness. It can be used to control opponents, set up transitions, and secure submissions in various positions.

Training Drills for Kimura

Solo Drills

Solo drills for the Kimura include:

  • Shadow Kimura: Practice the figure-four grip and body positioning without a partner.

  • Resistance Band Drills: Use resistance bands to simulate the pressure and leverage of the Kimura.

Partner Drills

Partner drills for the Kimura include:

  • Positional Drills: Practice the Kimura from various positions with a partner.

  • Flow Drills: Combine the Kimura with other techniques in a flowing sequence.

Sparring Scenarios

Incorporate the Kimura into sparring scenarios to practice applying the submission in live situations. Focus on maintaining control and transitioning between positions.

Common Injuries and Prevention

Shoulder Injuries

The Kimura targets the shoulder joint, making it susceptible to injuries such as dislocations and ligament damage. Proper technique and control are essential to prevent injuries.

Prevention Techniques

To prevent injuries when applying or defending the Kimura:

  • Use Proper Technique: Ensure that you are using correct technique and control when applying the submission.

  • Tap Early: If you are caught in a Kimura, tap early to avoid injury.

  • Strengthen Shoulders: Strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint to increase stability and resilience.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

If you experience a shoulder injury from the Kimura, follow these steps for recovery and rehabilitation:

  • Rest and Ice: Rest the injured shoulder and apply ice to reduce inflammation.

  • Physical Therapy: Work with a physical therapist to regain strength and mobility.

  • Gradual Return: Gradually return to training, focusing on proper technique and control.

Kimura in Self-Defense

Practical Applications

The Kimura can be an effective self-defense technique due to its ability to control and submit an attacker. It can be used to neutralize threats and create opportunities to escape.

Real-World Scenarios

In real-world self-defense scenarios, the Kimura can be applied from various positions to control and submit an attacker. It is a valuable tool for personal safety and protection.


What is the Kimura lock?

The Kimura lock is a submission technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that targets the shoulder joint. It involves securing a figure-four grip on the opponent’s arm and applying pressure to force a submission.

How do you execute a Kimura?

To execute a Kimura, secure a figure-four grip on your opponent’s arm, break their posture, create an angle, isolate the arm, and apply pressure to the shoulder joint.

Can the Kimura be used in MMA?

Yes, the Kimura is commonly used in MMA due to its effectiveness and versatility. It can be applied from various positions and is a valuable tool for controlling and submitting opponents.

What are common mistakes when applying the Kimura?

Common mistakes when applying the Kimura include poor grip, incorrect positioning, and lack of control. Ensuring proper technique and attention to detail is essential for success.

How can you defend against a Kimura?

To defend against a Kimura, recognize the setup, posture up, roll out, and use your free hand to break your opponent’s grip. Quick and decisive action is crucial for escaping the submission.


The Kimura lock is a powerful and versatile submission technique that has stood the test of time. From its origins in judo to its prominence in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA, the Kimura continues to be a valuable tool for grapplers and fighters. By mastering the Kimura, practitioners can enhance their grappling skills, improve their overall game, and gain a deeper understanding of the art of submission. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced practitioner, the Kimura offers endless opportunities for growth and development in the world of martial arts.


  1. Evolve MMA – BJJ 101: The Kimura

  2. Wikipedia – Kimura Lock

  3. BJJ Fanatics – The Kimura Trap System

  4. Gracie Barra – How to Execute the Kimura

  5. Jiu-Jitsu Times – The History of the Kimura

  6. MMA Fighting – Famous Kimura Submissions in MMA