The Kimura Lock: How to Make Your Opponent Tap in Seconds

The Kimura Lock is a highly effective submission in BJJ. It’s named after the famous Japanese Judoka Masahiko Kimura, who used it to defeat Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pioneer Helio Gracie in 1951. Since then, the Kimura Lock has become a staple in modern BJJ competition, admired for its versatility and power.

In this article, we’ll examine the Kimura Lock submission’s rich history, mechanics, and strategy. We’ll also explore how this technique can be used to control and defeat opponents and the various defenses that can be used to prevent or escape the submission.

Our goal is to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of the Kimura Lock, its place in the history of BJJ, and its continued significance as a core technique in modern grappling. 

So buckle up and get ready to dive into the fascinating world of the Kimura Lock!

The Kimura Lock submission has its roots in Japanese Judo, where it was initially known as the Gyaku ude-garami. 

The technique involves controlling an opponent’s arm and shoulder joint, then using leverage to force the arm into a hyperextended position, resulting in intense pain and/or submission.

The technique was further developed and refined by the legendary Japanese Judoka Masahiko Kimura, widely regarded as one of the greatest martial artists ever. Kimura began training in Judo at a young age and quickly gained a reputation for his exceptional skill and technique.

Kimura Lock

Kimura Lock Popularization

In 1951, Kimura famously defeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pioneer Helio Gracie in a widely publicized exhibition match in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During the match, Kimura used the submission that would later bear his name to force Gracie to tap out.

Kimura’s victory over Gracie was a turning point in the history of Jiu-Jitsu, as it demonstrated the effectiveness of Judo techniques against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which had until then been considered the dominant grappling art. 

Kimura’s success helped to popularize the Kimura submission and establish it as a core technique in modern grappling.

Attack Sequence

1. Gain control of opponent’s arm
2. Move into a dominant position (side control or mount)
3. Grip opponent’s wrist with one hand, locking it in place
4. Use other arm to grab opponent’s triceps or bicep
5. Rotate opponent’s arm and shoulder joint, applying leverage and pressure
6. Apply further stress to arm and shoulder joint
7. Force opponent to tap out or risk injury

Common Variances of The Kimura Lock

The Kimura Lock is a versatile submission that can be modified and adapted to various situations and scenarios. Some common variations and modifications of the Kimura Lock include:


  • The reverse Kimura involves attacking the same shoulder joint from a different angle and can surprise an opponent by expecting the essential Kimura.
  • The double wristlock involves a slightly different grip. It can be used to attack either the shoulder or elbow joint, depending on the position of the opponent’s arm.
  • The “Kimura trap” involves using the threat of the Kimura Lock to bait an opponent into making a mistake, allowing the attacker to transition to a different position or submission.

Setting up The Kimura Lock


Successfully using the Kimura Lock requires careful positioning and setup and the ability to transition smoothly between techniques and positions. Some strategies for getting into a position to apply the Kimura include:


  • Forcing your opponent to the ground and taking the top position, either through a takedown or by pulling guard and sweeping your opponent.
  • Using a combination of strikes, feints, and fakes to create openings and opportunities to attack with the Kimura.
  • Setting up the Kimura from other techniques, such as the armbar, triangle choke, or guillotine choke, to catch your opponent off guard and capitalize on their reactions.
Kimura vs. Americana


In addition to the strategies mentioned above, several effective combinations and setups can be used to transition into the Kimura Lock. These include:


  • Setting up the Kimura from the back by trapping your opponent’s arm and rolling them onto their side to apply pressure.
  • Using the Kimura to counter your opponent’s attacks, such as when they attempt a takedown or shoot for a single leg.
  • Setting up the Kimura from the mount position by transitioning from side control or taking a direct path from the back.

How to Maintain Control of the Kimura Lock

Maintaining control during setup is crucial for successfully executing the Kimura Lock. It allows you to apply pressure and leverage while minimizing your opponent’s ability to escape or counter. Some tips for maintaining control during the setup process include:


  • Keeping your weight and pressure centered over your opponent, using your body position to control their movements and limit their options.
  • Maintaining a tight grip on your opponent’s arm throughout the setup process, using your other hand or body weight to control their body and prevent them from escaping or defending effectively.
  • Maintaining a steady pace and rhythm during setup, avoiding sudden or jerky movements that could give your opponent an opening to escape or counter.
Credit: Neil Melanson Seminar March 2012

Kimura Lock Common Mistakes

Even experienced practitioners of Jiu-Jitsu can make mistakes when attempting to apply the Kimura Lock. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:


  • Lack of control: Failure to maintain control of your opponent’s arm, body, or position can allow your opponent to escape or counter the submission.
  • Weak grip: A weak grip on your opponent’s arm can make it easier for them to escape or defend against the submission. Ensure you firmly grip your opponent’s wrist and maintain control throughout the setup process.
  • Poor positioning: Being in the wrong position or failing to transition smoothly between positions can make applying the Kimura effectively challenging. Ensure you position yourself correctly and set up the submission properly.
  • Overreliance on strength: Attempting to force the submission using brute force alone can lead to exhaustion and muscle fatigue. Focus on using proper technique and leverage to apply the submission effectively.
  • Failing to adjust: Failing to change your position or grip in response to your opponent’s movements or defenses can make it challenging to apply the submission effectively. Be prepared to adjust your technique as necessary to maintain control and pressure.
  • Rushing the submission: Attempting to apply the Kimura Lock too quickly or aggressively can lead to mistakes and missed opportunities. Take your time and focus on setting up the submission properly before applying pressure.

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The Kimura Lock is undoubtedly one of the most iconic submissions in the history of Jiu-Jitsu, and for a good reason. Its effectiveness and versatility have made it a go-to technique for practitioners of all skill levels. Its history and significance in the sport have only added to its allure.

Throughout this article, we’ve explored the history of the Kimura, its mechanics, and various strategies and tips for setting it up effectively. We’ve also highlighted some common mistakes to avoid when applying the submission.

As you continue to train and develop your Jiu-Jitsu skills, the Kimura is a submission you’ll likely encounter frequently. By understanding its mechanics, practicing its setups and transitions, and avoiding common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this iconic technique and adding it to your submissions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Kimura Lock? 

A: The Kimura is a submission technique in Jiu-Jitsu that involves controlling an opponent’s arm and shoulder and applying pressure to force them to tap out.

Q: Where did the Kimura Lock originate? 

A: The Kimura was named after Japanese judoka Masahiko Kimura, who popularized the technique in the 1940s and 1950s.

Q: What makes the Kimura so effective? 

A: The Kimura Lock is a highly effective submission because it allows the practitioner to apply leverage to an opponent’s arm and shoulder, which can create intense pressure and discomfort.

Q: Can the Kimura Lock be used in gi and no-gi Jiu-Jitsu? 

A: Yes, the Kimura can be used in gi and no-gi Jiu-Jitsu, although some variations may be more effective in one style.

Q: Is the Kimura Lock legal in Jiu-Jitsu competition? 

A: Yes, the Kimura is a legal submission in Jiu-Jitsu competition, but it must be applied with care and by the rules of the tournament.

Q: Can the Kimura Lock cause injury? 

A: Like any submission technique, the Kimura can cause injury if applied aggressively or without proper technique. Training with a skilled instructor and applying submissions with care and respect for your training partner is essential.

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