When it comes to attacks from the guard, the Kimura armlock is one of the heavy hitter submissions used by a huge percentage of grapplers.
And so if you’re on top you need to have ways to prevent, defend and escape the Kimura or you’re going to be tapping out a whole lot!
Fortunately I have a very simple tweak, learned years ago from BJJ pioneer Roy Harris, that can save you a TON of grief when you’re in the closed or half guard.
To start with, if you’re in your opponent’s guard then generally you shouldn’t be putting your hand on the floor.
Putting your hand on the floor opens you up to many attacks – Kimuras, omoplatas, triangle chokes and more – so typically it’s much better and safer to post on your opponent’s body than the floor.
But life doesn’t always go according to plan, and sometimes you’ll have no choice but to put hand to mat.
Fortunately jiu-jitsu is a subtle game and it’s in situations like this where the tweak comes in.
If you post your hand on the floor beside your opponent’s hip with you fingers pointing forwards, towards his head, then you’re just begging him to attack you with the Kimura. In fact it’ll usually look something like this…
But if you make a small adjustment and turn your hand out 90 degrees, squeezing with the heel of your hand against his hip, then it’s much, much tougher for him to latch on that Kimura.
Mostly this is because pointing your fingers out also rotates your elbow backwards by 90 degrees, and this in turn makes it much harder for your opponent to achieve the rotation of the arm required to get your limb into the Kimura position.
Check it out below: the 90 degree rotation makes the Kimura MUCH harder to get…
Of course your arm isn’t 100% safe just because you’ve rotated your hand from 12 o’clock to 9 o’clock; if you’re looking to never get Kimura’d ever again then I suggest you sell your gi, throw away your belt, and retire to the couch to watch Netflix.
And if you’re using that hand-turned-out position then you also have to be careful that you don’t hurt your wrist if you end up getting swept over to that side. As with so many things, awareness is key here!
But that simple 90 degree turn means that your opponent has to spend much more time, effort and energy to get to the fully applied Kimura, giving you many more opportunities to escape and counter-attack than if you simply let him latch on his grip.
This is easy enough to test: grab a training partner and let them fish around for a Kimura while you experiment with keeping your fingers a) pointing straight forward, and b) pointing out to the side.
See for yourself which is a superior anti-Kimura hand position!
In the video below I show this defense in more detail, including how it applies from the half guard as well as the closed guard. And then I briefly show a couple of counters, escapes and counter-attacks that flow from here.
If you’ve ever been stuck in a Kimura battle while trying to pass the guard then check out the video below!
Hope you find this detail useful – I use it on the mats with great success all the time!
More Kimura Techniques and Strategies
If you’re looking to go deeper with the Kimura submission then there are quite a few resources on this site for you (click here to see a list of all articles and videos tagged with ‘Kimura’ on Grapplearts).
Below are some of the first Kimura techniques you might want to check out…
Should you do the Kimura with your thumb as part of the grip, without your thumb, or switch half way? And WHY should you do things that way?!?
In this article I break down and explain the best grips for the Kimura armlock in a way that should increase your finishing percentages right away!
Defending and escaping the Kimura when you’re on the bottom of side control is always difficult. But in this article and video below we first cover general Kimura awareness, then Kimura defense from the bottom of side control.
The Kimura is one of a small number of submissions that work standing on your feet as well as on the ground. In this article and video I break down the standing Kimura that Kazushi Sakuraba used on a number of the Gracies back in the old Pride MMA days!
The Kimura can obviously finish a match by forcing your opponent to tap out. But it’s also a great big handle you can use to move the other guy around and rack up a whole bunch of points. And if you get ahead on points it makes your opponent more desperate, which in turn gives you even more opportunities to finish him with the submission!
Here’s Robson ‘Mau Mau’ de Lima Rodrigues, a 3 x No Gi Pan Am champion and 1 x World No Gi Champion, sharing his patented Kimura system for getting 15 points in competition.
It’s a way to apply the Kimura from the North-South position without seemingly having any weight on your opponent’s body, but still immobilising him so he can’t move and has no choice but to tap out!
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