Mastering the Kimura
By Stephan Kesting and Marcus Soares
Originally published in Grappling Magazine, May 2002
The Kimura lock is one of the most important submission holds in Jiu-jitsu. It is also found in many other grappling systems, where it might be called a hammerlock, a chickenwing, or ude-garami. Whatever it is called, it is a powerful and versatile attack. Wherever you see grapplers competing, whether in Pride, the UFC, Abu Dhabi or the Jiu-jitsu Mundial, you see the Kimura lock used to submit opponents and win matches!
In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu the Kimura lock is named after Masahiko Kimura, who is widely regarded as the greatest Judo player of all time. While on tour in Brazil in 1952, Kimura fought a famous challenge match with Helio Gracie. Helio first had to defeat Kato, a judoka in Kimura’s entourage, to get the opportunity to fight Kimura himself. After choking Kato unconscious, Helio was now allowed to face Kimura.
This match lasted 13 minutes and ended when Kimura caught Helio Gracie in an armlock, causing Carlos Gracie to throw in the towel, signalling surrender. Kimura was most impressed that the much lighter Helio Gracie lasted as long as he did, and invited him to come teach in Japan. Almost 50 years later, the armlock that defeated Helio is now known as the “Kimura Lock” in Brazil, in homage to Kimura’s great ability.
The Kimura lock is the favourite armlock of Marcus Soares: once he locks it on, there is no escape. It is also the favourite armlock of Marcus’s teacher, Carlson Gracie, who won many Vale Tudo fights with this submission.
In this article we begin to explore the world of the Kimura according to Marcus Soares. We will show you that you can apply the Kimura from closed guard, open guard, north-south position and from the mount. You might be familiar with some of these moves already, but we are going to try to stress some of the most important, but often ignored, details.
There are many more variations for each of these positions, some of which you will find for yourself if you do some research and experimentation. There are also Kimura attacks from the sidemount, half guard, half mount, turtle, standing and even from the back; it is a very versatile attack. We will discuss these, and many other submissions, in future articles for Grappling Magazine.
Reproduced by permission of Grappling Magazine