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The Mighty Kimura with John Danaher, Travis Stevens, and Satoshi Ishii

The Mighty Kimura with John Danaher, Travis Stevens, and Satoshi Ishii


Side control can be just as dangerous as it is dominate. For me, this was the frits place I became comfortable attacking. It seemed that I could stay in side control much longer than any other dominate position. My stints in side control became longer and longer and I began to gain more confidence here, which led to successful encounters and more frequent finishes. 

There’s a lot to consider when you’re riding the top side mount. There’s a ton of submissions available and many avenues to choose from. The side control is a hub for launching a million attacks, transitions, opportunities to slow your opponent down and so on. 

One of the most common attacks from side control is the kimura. The kimura has deep roots in BJJ, and its likely to be a part of any basic curriculum at academies around the world. You were probably exposed to the kimura early in your training and it likely makes an appearance frequently in your academy’s instruction. The kimura from side control can be acquired and finished in many ways, and that’s what I’d like to delve in to today. Let’s take a look at how some of the highest-level athletes and instructors choose to apply this devastating submission. We will draw lots of parallels with the instruction and also some deviations that are unique to each variation. 

Lets first take a look at some instruction from John Danaher. Here, he outlines the application of a kimura from side control and introduces us to a concept he refers to as “the powerline”. Once you’ve seen the video, this makes an incredible amount of sense. Check it out.

When positioning himself to apply the kimura, Danaher explains that we don’t want to work in a perpendicular fashion to our partners chest. The powerline that Danaher is refereeing to, in this case runs from his partners nearest shoulder to the opposite side hip. Using this diagonal positioning, Danaher puts himself in position to apply a massive amount of pressure to the submission. 

Don't just learn 1 Kimura, Learn a whole SYSTEM of Kimuras! Click Learn More!


Before setting up the position, Danaher offers ideas on the actual positioning and details for the finish. With a kimura secured and his body on the powerline, Danaher keeps his partners wrist tucked below the line of his ribcage and under the back. He keeps the wrist pinned in place and applies “pull dominate” kimura pressure to the lock. There are so important details to consider here. Notice how Danaher’s base is spread out. This gives him great control and helps to flatten his partner even more, pinning the arm. He also slides his elbow out to meet his partners elbow to get the most leverage possible for completing the technique. Do not crowd the elbow with your head. When you’re ready to finish, allow your head to travel back toward the powerline. 

One of the biggest problems we’ll face when trying to pursue this variation of the kimura is the bottom frame. Here, Danaher’s partner has placed this frame in Danaher’s hip, blocking him from transitioning around the body and getting to the powerline. To remove this frame Danaher drops his hip down on to the frame, followed by a backstep. After the backstep, Danaher tripods his hips and then places his trailing hip down on the other side of the frame, rendering it useless. He then sweeps his bottom knee forward and takes a large step over the top of his partners head and separates his legs in to that wide base formation Danaher previously mentioned. Again, keeping the hand pinned, Danaher begins to straighten his body and return his head toward the powerline, creating plenty of pressure for the tap, with the ability to go even further still present. 

Not only is this very detailed instruction on how to finish a kimura, its also an excellent answer to a common problem and a great entry level way to pursue this great submission from side control.

Let’s check out another variation of the kimura from side control with another titan of the sport, Travis Stevens. Have a look!

Stevens begins in side control with a slightly less traditional configuration of the arms. His arm closest to the head is on the opposite side of the body, and his arm closest to his partner’s legs is on the near side blocking the hips. This is a fine position to begin setting up the kimura, and a great way to control in the side mount. 

Learn your fundamentals from BJJ/Judo Black Belt Travis Stevens! Click Learn More!


Stevens begins by biting his partner hand with his chin and punching his shoulder in to the wrist, forcing the hand to travel up above his head. Here, Stevens places a wedge under his partner armpit with his hand and connects it to his own chin, isolating the arm and keeping it elevated. Stevens then begins to circle to the north south position and as he arrives, he drives his hand deeper in to the armpit, placing his knuckles on his partner’s heart and driving his partner up on to his side. 

As Stevens postures up in to the arm, it slides off his shoulder where he can acquire the kimura grip. He then pulls the arm up and over the back, pacing it behind his partner and rotating for the finish. Be sure to take the arm over the body in a rainbow configuration to make sure your opponent doesn’t snag any material on the way over!

Let’s finish up with a new and innovative variation of the kimura from Satoshi Ishii. This variation looks to be one of the most devastating methods of locking and finishing a kimura I’ve ever seen. There’s not a huge amount of focus on the setup here, but what’s incredibly interesting is the actual lock itself. Take a look at this.

The lock looks to be of a similar configuration to a standard kimura with a figure four grip, but as it progresses it takes on a different form. Ishii brings his head side arm under the arm as we would for a traditional kimura, but then he pushes the arm down with his own forearm. Here he locks his bicep in the style of a rear naked choke, and then reaches under to the opposite bicep, creating an incredibly constricting hold on the limb. With a simple rotation he’s able to finish the submission from multiple angles. This is pretty awesome and very unique!


Satoshi Ishii is one of the most rounded combat athletes on the planet! He has fought some of the best in Judo, MMA and BJJ! Let him help your game with some of his Japanese Judo Secrets today! Soon you'll be Throwing with the BEST!



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