We all learned the basic kimura lock in our infant stages in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world. While basic, the move can be very effective and damaging when done properly.
However, they are plenty of cases in which you’ll be forced to adjust and adapt the hold!
No matter what position you’re in—for instance, the kimura trap—the one constant remains is that you’ll have to rely upon your grip strength to execute the move properly.
While it may look tough, it really isn’t.
Setting Up And Attempting The Kimura Lock
In this specific setup, we’re assuming that our opponent is in the top half guard. In this given position, the kimura lock is almost the most readily available move, which makes it very easy to defend against if you are on the receiving end of it.
The trick of going about this hold is how strong of a grip you’ll have on your opponent when goingn to lock on the hold. The kimura can be easily broken if your opponent is bigger by them simply ripping their arm free, or by hiding their hand underneath them.
Your opponent hiding their hand is the most likely of the two, which can be tricky to deal with. Rather than trying to free it by using brute force, there’s another way of going about attack the arm you have already isolated.
As they hide their hand, shoot your hips backwards. Upon doing so, you’ll be able to take your far side leg, and bring it over the top of their shoulder, trapping the isolated arm.
This is where your grip strength comes into play; you’ll be placing yourself in an awkward position that your body isn’t used to, causing your grip to loosen up a bit. Really focus on maintaining the hold, allowing you to continue with the submission attempt.
Staying Tight To The Body & Transitioning Into An Armbar
Once we have the foot over and the arm isolated, the next step is crucial. While we focus on maintaining the grip, we’ll also want to make sure that the arm is placed firmly to the chest. To do this, you’ll want to hug the arm by bringing whichever shoulder is on the mat to their elbow.
Now knowing that the hold is firmly in place and their arm isn’t going anywhere, it’s time to start posturing yourself to get the submission finish!
While keeping their arm tight, you’ll want to slowly extend backwards. Avoid leaning back as if you were doing a traditional armbar, but slowly arch backwards as the arm stays tight to your sternum.
If done properly, this will lead to an armbar finish. Even if they attempt to roll out—which they likely will—maintain this hold, as they would then just be rolling right into a traditional armbar setup.
Remember: grip is key! The second you feel the grip come undone, your opponent has the chance to escape. Even in a tough lockdown position such as the kimura trap, a weak grip can cost you the position and even the win. What I recommend anyone looking to improve their grip strength is the Finger Master Grip Strengthener. I wish I had a tool so helpful when I was beginning to improve my grip strength. Check it out for more details. The next best option is using incredibly heavy and inconvenient buckets or sand or beans like in this video.
Focus on keeping a firm grip and proper body position, and you’ll be well on your way to earning the submission victory and in impressive fashion!
On November 4, 2012, my Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach, Adam Ryan, took gold in the senior 2 black belt category of the IBJJF 2012 World No-Gi Championships, submitting his opponent with a pretty brutal ankle lock. The Dynamic MMA team were all pretty excited to watch this, and in honour of Adam’s leglock finish, I figured I’d put together a quick compilation of leglock-related articles that I’ve written over the years. These articles were published in different places under different sets of publication guidelines, so there’s some repetition, but they give a good overview. The flow is: introduction, examples of leglocks in action, learning resources, and dealing with knee or ankle injuries.