Developing Your Kimura Game
Much has been written about the painful shoulder submission, the Kimura. The powerful technique where one controls the wrist of their opponent with a powerful figure-four grip on one's own wrist and utilizes leverage to torque the shoulder by driving the opponent's wrist backwards towards their spine. The technique has many names, in Japanese, it is ude-garami which also can be used to describe more common Americana lock. In catch wrestling the move is also called the double wristlock.
The name Kimura was given to the reverse ude-garami after the famous match between, arguably the most famous judoka in Japan's history and arguably the most famous jiu jitsu practitioner in Brazil's history, Helio Gracie. It was originally said that after being caught in the shoulder lock and having his arm broken numerous times, Helio named the move the Kimura lock out of respect. Much of our knowledge of this event has been colored by legend, but the essence is true, Kimura caught Helio in the lock and afterwards Helio conceded the loss and named the move the Kimura. And while a rose by any other name is just as sweet, a Kimura by any other name is just as painful and devastating. Whatever you want to call it, it's still a highly effective move.
For more information about the Kimura Lock you can also check out this article from BJJ Fanatics.
For many practitioners, the Kimura is one of the earliest submissions learned when studying closed guard and then once that class is over, the Kimura may not get practiced all that much. I can still remember the class where I was taught the sit over or hip heist sweep, the guillotine and the Kimura. Way back then the three moves were taught like they were an unbreakable series or package of techniques.
Like any position or technique, the Kimura can be explored and used for a variety of uses beyond simply as a submission. It can be used as a means to control positioning. It can be locked on from a variety of positions. It can be used to set up other submissions. Many high level competitors use Kimura attacks to set up much of their offense. Garry Tonon is a prime example of someone who makes use of rolling Kimuras and Kimura grips to set up a wide variety of attacks and positions.
Below Mau Mau Robson de Lima shows a unique Kimura finish from the mount.
Just as it is important to have a better sense of the history of BJJ and the moves that continue to make it a living breathing art, it's important to separate legend from reality. By properly understanding the devastating mechanics of the technique and moving past the very rudimentary introduction that many of us have had, one can develop a more well-rounded game with a series of powerful Kimura variations in our arsenals. Pay close attention to how the high level competitors are utilizing the technique as a way to dominate and to win just like Kimura did back in the 50s.