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Kimura For BJJ: Enter The System With John Danaher

Kimura For BJJ: Enter The System With John Danaher


One Of The World's Most Sought After Instructors Can Help Improve Your Kimura And Make It Much More Effective

When you think about some of the most versatile, and most commonly used submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu you inevitably end up talking about the kimura. The kimura is often one of the first submissions you are taught in BJJ. The concept of the submission is to isolate the shoulder and elbow joints with a double wrist grip which allows you to apply leverage against both the shoulder and the elbow causing your opponent to tap or suffer some severe damage to their limb. And while the concept of the kimura is fairly straight forward, mastering the kimura involves understanding the technique on a whole other level.

The kimura was a very common technique in Japanese Jujitsu, and when Masahiko Kimura, the judoka defeated Helio Gracie in a grappling match, by way of gyaku ude-garami, now known as "The Kimura" became one of the most recognizable and powerful techniques in all of grappling.


Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard the name John Danaher mentioned in BJJ circles all around the world. Danaher is a legend in the grappling community and one of the most sought out instructors in the world for good reason. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie and an instructor at Renzo’s academy in New York City. Some of his students include memebers of the Dannaher Death squad Gordon Ryan, Garry Tonon, Tom DeBlass, and UFC Fighter Georges St. Pierre. And while Danaher and his death squad may be most well known for their leg locks, it is safe to say that his grappling knowledge is vast and goes far beyond the lower body.

John Danaher has a guided curriculum to show you much more about the Kimura than you thought was possible called “Kimura: Enter The System” available exclusively on The kimura can be used for a variety of reasons. For example, you can use it from bottom guard to sweep your opponent. Or you could use it on top guard as a pass or a gateway to other positions or submissions. But you will not have an effective kimura without understanding some very fundamental concepts. So let’s take a look at just a small sample of what Danaher has to offer in regards to making your kimura incredibly efficient and extremely deadly.

How To Do The Perfect Kimura From Side Control

Many of us have locked up a kimura grip from side control, but it can be a tough submission to finish. In the video below, John Danaher shows us how to properly finish a kimura from the side control position using a very cool concept known as the “power line.” This concept has the ability to radically improve your percentage of success when going for a kimura. Watch the video below and then we will break down the technique. Check it out now!

As Danaher explains, most of the time a poor kimura from side control is a “push dominant” kimura. As a general rule of thumb, you want to operate with a “pull dominant” kimura rather than a push dominant kimura. Danaher explains what this means. With a push dominant kimura there is a lot of play and you see a lot of twisting and pushing movement with nothing really happening. Instead you want the majority of the force of the kimura to be one where you immobilize the arm in a position with extreme tension with a pull rather than a push. A big part of the problem is that people tend to work perpendicular to their opponent from side control, and they work at the line of the chest. But in doing a kimura this way, your opponent’s joint will be too relaxed making your kimura inefficient.

Rather than working at a perpendicular line across your opponent’s chest, what you want to do is work at the line of his shoulders. If you position your hips up on the shoulder line you are in a better position to form the power line. Think of the power line as a line that goes from your opponent’s hip diagonally across to your opponent’s shoulder. And as Danaher explains, this is where the power for the kimura is derived. Once you get into the position of the power line with your hip up over your training partner’s shoulder, any amount of lift with one hand puts extreme tension in your opponent’s shoulder.

As Danaher transitions around the power line you can see that the head of his opponent is being trapped. As he steps over his training partner’s head, he puts himself into a position where his head is over the hip, and his hips are over the opposite shoulder. Positioning like this allows you to perform a pull dominant kimura, which is much more effective.

Kimura Shoulder Line Mechanics

The shoulder line is the line directly across your opponent’s chest from one shoulder to the other. There are three ways to measure the power of your kimura. The first is the degree that your legs are incorporate into the submission. The second is the degree at which your opponent’s head is controlled. The third is the degree at which your opponent’s shoulder is controlled. It takes only one of three of these measurements to have a powerful kimura. Understanding the mechanics of the shoulder line really come into play when attacking the kimura. The further your training partner’s elbow is from the shoulder line the less pressure he feels. The more his elbow comes up to his shoulder line the less work you will have to do. So focus on getting your opponent’s arm up to the shoulder line.

Side Kimura Switching Elbows

In order to secure the kimura grip, your opponent’s elbow needs to be elevated. For example, in the north south position when your opponent has his arms locked tight, if his elbow is on the mats it can be difficult to lock up the kimura which can be very frustrating. The real problem here is that people tend to develop tunnel vision: they intend to attack one arm, but when it goes to the floor they do not know what to do. The interesting thing about this though it that the more your opponent brings his elbow down, the higher his elbow on the other arm will come up. When your opponent turns towards the mat he always offers his other one up for a kimura attack. You can take advantage of this situation by attacking the opposite arm you intended to, making this seemingly frustrating problem much easier to deal with.

As you can probably tell, there is a whole lot that goes into making a kimura truly effective. John Danaher does not see the kimura as a simple submission. He views it as an entire system and his approach to the kimura is not about teaching basic technique, but more about how to approach the concepts of the kimura lock using fundamental patterns. Yes, it is a nasty submission. But the kimura lock is also a great way to control your opponent. So keep these concepts in mind the next time you are on the mats. If you would like to learn more about the kimura from John Danaher then check out his incredibly instructional series “Kimura: Enter The System” available exclusively on!

The kimura attack is one of the majoe concepts John Danaher teaches his Danaher Death Squad team.   According to Danaher, the Kimura has an incredible versatility factor due to the fact that it can be utilized in both Gi and No Gi and it is an extremely popular hold in MMA.  There have been countless UFC fights finished by way of Kimura.  Mastering this position will give the Jiu Jiteiro a weapon that can be used in all competition rule sets. Below we see John Danaher's student, Georges St. Pierre utilizing the Kimura in the highest levels of combat. 



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