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How To Do The Perfect Kimura From Side Control

How To Do The Perfect Kimura From Side Control


Perfect? Really?  Is there a such thing as executing a perfect submission in Jiu Jitsu?

I can’t say for sure that there is, but I am confident in saying if anyone can teach a perfect technique, it’s Professor John Danaher.  Professor Danaher has trained some of the biggest names in our sport. Athletes like Gordon Ryan, George St. Pierre as well as all of the other members of the DDS (Danaher Death Squad).  With a name like that you’re making a bold statement to the world, and better be ready to back it up. Back it up they do; Danaher’s students perform at the highest levels on the biggest stages and are victorious almost always.  As I mentioned above, if anyone can teach the perfect technique, it is Professor Danaher.

The Kimura is one of the strongest, most versatile submissions in Jiu Jitsu.  Yet, it fails, for some more than others. You may hear chatter in the academy talking about how this submission doesn’t work, or “that’s for those small guys”, or vice versa, “that’s for the big strong guys”.  The reality is the technique is not broken, you have a knowledge gap because of how it was taught to you and you’re simply missing a detail or two that can get everything back on track. That being said, there may come a time where it isn’t worth while to continue to fight your opponent for a submission.  

Want more from John Danaher? BJJ Fanatics has his Kimura System! Click Learn More below!


The Kimura is submission where you can run into this a lot especially if the opponent is bigger and or stronger than you.  It’s rather easy most of the time for them to lock up a grip on their bottom arm or hand, or even on their thigh, preventing you from being able to easily get your desired submission.  When situations like this come up it helps to know the “system”. Knowing the system means you know how to respond to what your opponent is doing most effectively while maintaining your powerful offensive position and your ability to either finish the original submission attempt or move to the next submission in the system.  

There is a reason why Professor Danaher’s video instructionals are titled the way they are.  Enter the System. Professor Danaher’s approach to teaching Jiu Jitsu is incredibly detailed, and the techniques flow together based on common reactions from an opponent.  

That being said, let’s take a look at the perfect Kimura from side control.  It’s very likely that regardless of how long you’ve been training you have seen the Kimura from side control technique.  It’s very common and often one of the first submissions taught in most academies.

Professor Danaher points out that your hands have very different jobs from one another this time.  We have a push hand, responsible for pushing the opponent’s wrist away from their body to not only line up the submission as best as possible, but also to further reduce the risk of the opponent being able to defend the attack.  The pull hand will be your hand that is coming in from the top, under the opponent’s arm. The role of this hand is to achieve the figure four grip and begin pulling your opponent’s wrist along with the entire arm to creating a joint lock in the shoulder.

The next typical mistake that Professor Danaher addresses is that most practitioners like to for from a perpendicular position with their chest over the opponent’s chest when in side control.  Rather than working from the chest line, we want to work from the power line. You heard that right, we want to position ourselves on the power line. Before everyone gets up and walks outside to get electrocuted, the power line in this situation is the imaginary line from the opponent’s shoulder nearest to us, to the opponent’s hip, furthest to us.  This should put your hips somewhere in a middle ground between the north south position and the perpendicular position most of us are used to operating in. Putting us in perfect position to control our partner while we get to work continuing to work toward achieving the Kimura.

Once we are able to get in the “power line” position we can drop our hip that is closest to the opponent’s arm to the mat and begin circling towards their head.  This will allow us to open our hips towards the opponent’s head with our bottom leg acting as a pillow for the opponent’s head while our other leg is pointed up toward the ceiling with our foot planted on the ground.

While in this position we should have secured the arm we are attacking with a standard Kimura grip (figure four grip) meaning that our top arm is laced under the opponents tricep and grabbing our own wrist on our bottom arm which is simply gripping their wrist with our elbow and forearm on the mat alongside the opponent’s body.  

We are now able to start circling our hips into the opponent’s head trapping their head and allowing us the opportunity to step over with our top leg.  It’s important to not try to rush this step. Ensure that you have control of both the arm you plan to attack, and the opponent's head before trying to step over their head.  This should be done from the power line position for maximum control over the opponent’s body, reducing the risk of movement or escape attempts from them. Remember, as the saying goes, “position before submission” this is always true and much easier to say or preach than it is to execute in practice in my experience.  It’s easy to get excited and rush the submission, but it’s important to trust in the system and follow each step carefully.

From this position Professor Danaher first shows us a pull dominate Kimura.  To execute this submission, his legs are spread far apart, with his hip still driving into the opponent and opposite foot still planted on the mat on the other side of the opponent’s head.  He then simply holds the hand in place, rather than dragging it up the mat for the finish like we would see in a typical push pull Kimura, and then uses his top arm to slide to an elbow to elbow connection, allowing him to pull from the end of the lever as he calls it.  He then drives his hips forward, looks slightly upward and towards the opponent’s legs and pulls his elbow that is at the end of the lever (connected to the opponent’s elbow) in the same direction he is looking (towards the opponent’s legs) all while keeping the opponent’s hand firmly planted next to their rib cage on the mat.  This motion will create extreme breaking pressure in the elbow joint more so than in the shoulder, if executed properly. Because this submission is being done from the power line position, it will be extremely difficult for the opponent to breath, for starters, because of all of the top pressure on their chest, but it will also make it difficult for them to work on escaping.  Because of the control of this position you have time to work and can focus on getting the submission right, rather than trying to rush through it.

As with everything in Jiu Jitsu, there obviously is a way for the opponent to cause trouble and at the very least, slow us down.  If the opponent is able to get a frame in our hip before we are able to get to the power line position. Again, as with everything, there is a way for us to beat this as well.  To do so, we initially want to turn in (towards the opponent’s legs) and then backstep with our top leg and then tripod switching our hips from facing the legs to now facing the opponent’s head.  From here we continue to walk towards the opponent’s head until the head is trapped and we are able to step over, just as we did before.

A quick detail that Professor Danaher notes when executing the “pull” finishing movement of the submission is that if our head is close to our elbow, we will not have a strong Kimura, in fact, we are in our own way and may not be able to finish from here.  It is important to stay on the powerline and maintain the separation between our attacking arm and our head so we have the space needed to finish the submission.

Devastating Kimuras! Click Learn More below!


In this video breakdown Professor Danaher shows where the typically “breaking point” would be, which is the area where most people would tap, and then lets go of Professor Faria’s arm as to not break it and shows how much more range of motion there is from this position, proving that not only is there plenty of room to finish this submission, regardless of the opponent’s flexibility, but there is plenty of space to shatter the persons joints and actually break the arm if the need is there.  I think we can all agree that while it is never the intent to hurt anyone in training, or in competition for that matter, it’s valuable to know that the skills we are training every day on the mats, are applicable in a self defense situation. While I would not want to go around shattering people’s arms without good reason, it’s good to know that you have immense control and the ability to cause extreme pain to an attacker, should the situation require it.

This is only one part, of one of the Kimura’s shown in Professor Danaher’s video instructional “Kimura: Enter The System”.  All of this detail shown in a short 10 minute video.  Can you imagine the game changing secrets tucked away in this in 4 volume video instructional? Again, Professor Danaher is responsible for training some of the best grapplers our sport has ever seen.  Continually changing the sport as we know it with a systematic approach to each position, whether it be passing the guard, attacking a submission, or escaping, the mindset remains the same, simply follow the system.  This detail could change your entire Kimura game and put you a step ahead of your competition. When given the opportunity to learn from one of the best instructors of our time, I think it makes sense to listen and take the advice, tips and direction to heart.

John Danaher has changed the leg lock game with his technical leg lock system. NOW, get his DVD "Kimura: Enter The System" and learn his kimura system from one of the best instructors in the game! BJJ Fanatics has it here!



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