Kimura (From Top Position)

Black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) in traditional gis demonstrating the Kimura submission from top position

Also known as the Double Wrist Lock or Figure-Four Wrist Lock, this submission is actually a submission in the shoulder joint–not the wrist as the alternative names would imply. Because the shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with freedom to rotate in many different directions, there are a number of ways to isolate this joint and achieve a submission. The Kimura is considered a “branch down” submission, which means the arm is rotated down towards the opponent’s hips to lock the shoulder and finish this submission. This is in contrast to the “branch up” variant of shoulder submission that we call the Americana, which rotates the arm upwards towards the head as if the defender were saluting. The Kimura is most often achieved in one of two fundamental positions: Full Guard (from bottom) and Side Mount (from top). Click Here to see what this submission looks like from bottom position.

Key Kimura (From Top) Details

Important details for the attacker (person in blue gi):
  1. Trap the head. When you start applying pressure to the shoulder joint, the defender will begin moving to relieve the strain. Usually, this means they will try to sit up or turn towards you. When they do this, step over the head as shown in the diagram limit their ability to move. Make sure your hips are applying downward pressure on their upper body and that your weight is leaning towards the defender’s head rather than towards their hips. This will help prevent you from being swept.
  2. Push and pull. Many people have problems finishing this submission because they focus too much on pushing the opponent’s arm to rotate the shoulder and they neglect to isolate and stress the ligaments in the shoulder. To make the submission more effective, try to take some of the slack out the shoulder joint before rotating the arm. As you trap the head as described in Detail 1 above, elongate your body so that you are pushing against the defender’s head with your front leg while simultaneously pulling on their shoulder joint using the arm that is grabbing your own wrist. This detail is a small adjustment that can make a huge difference in your Kimura game.
  3. Bend the arm. This more the defender’s arm is bent before you start rotating their shoulder joint, the easier it will be to get the tap. When you first secure your figure-four grip but before you start rotating the shoulder, pull the defender’s wrist towards the center of their own back. Once their arm is tightly bent, begin pulling on their arm to rotate the shoulder. Do this slowly as this submission is very tight and you want to allow the defender time to tap before you injure them.
Important details for the defender (person in white gi):
  1. Stop the leg. Use your free hand to block the attacker from putting their leg over your head. If the attacker does manage to step over your head, try to push it back in front of your head before they lock it in place.
  2. Beware the armbar. This submission can quickly be transitioned into a variation of the Armbar. It is important that you not let your arm be bent to avoid being submitted with the kimura, but it is just as dangerous to fully straighten out your arm.
  3. Turn towards the attacker. This isn’t easy to do with your arm being controlled in the figure-four grip, but if you can manage to turn onto your side facing the the attacker, it will greatly improve your chances of defending this submission.
  4. Reverse it! The Kimura can be quickly turned against the attacker. Try to get the arm that is being attacked in front of your body. This of it like you are putting your hand in the center of your chest, which will trap their arm against your body at an awkward angle for them. With this arm trapped, you have the ability to work on a few variations of sweeps, and if you have some space to maneuver, you can actually catch them in your own Kimura submission.