BJJ Submissions: The Kimura Lock Explained

The longer you train jiu jitsu, the more jiu jitsu techniques you learn. Seems to be obvious. But the point here is, that you learn not just the classic BJJ – Kimura lock, triangle choke, etc., but new techniques, that often appear like mushrooms after the rain. That is the benefit of Brazilian jiu jitsu – it is flexible to the new times and new players. That makes BJJ always contemporary and trendy.

But never forget the roots, as they are the basics. As the experience shows, the basic jiu jitsu moves and classic techniques make your rolling hardstanding.

Let’s talk about the classics – the Kimura Lock.

What is a Kimura lock and is Kimura a shoulder lock?

Kimura is a grappling submission hold with a double joint armlock managing to apply pressure on the opponent’s shoulder. So, yes, it’s a shoulder lock, even more – an elbow lock and wrist lock.

If you think about what is the best jiu jitsu submission – the Kimura lock is definitely on the list. This is one of those jiu jitsu techniques that is simple and works with noticeable regularity. You don’t need a complex setup from an inverted guard with the transition to another position. You have the control, you have an arm, you do the kimura.

Can a Kimura lock break an arm and what does a Kimura lock break?

It’s a shoulder lock, meaning the main pressure and tension go on the shoulder joint. So if the opponent doesn’t tap in time, the finalization of the kimura lock can be a ligament rupture.

At risk are also the elbow joint and humerus (upper arm bone). By a certain execution angle and extreme pressure, a bone break can happen.

What does Kimura mean in English?

Kimura from Japanese literally means “tree village” (written in Japanese 木村) and is the 17th most common surname in Japan.

Who invented the Kimura lock?

The Kimura lock name origin in BJJ has its own story. And the story is about a Japanese judoka and professional wrestler Masahiko Kimura (1917 – 1993). Kimura is three times in a row winner of All-Japan Judo Championships. He never lost a match in the years from 1936 to 1950. He is described as the strongest judoka in history.

Masahiko Kimura lock origin
Masahiko Kimura; Wikipedia

Helio Gracie vs Kimura Masahiko Match

Kimura and Helio Gracie
Kimura and Helio

In 1951, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil took place a fight between Brazilian jiu jitsu founder Helio Gracie and judoka Masahiko Kimura from Japan. The fight had no titles and was a special challenge. The match ended with technical submission by Kimura.

At some moment during the second round Kimura caught Helio’s arm. Gracie refused to tap and resisted the submission. At that moment Kimura added pressure and broke Helios’s arm. But Helio was still refusing to tap and Kimura continued to rotate his arm until it broke for a second time. The fight ended when Helio’s brother – Carlos Gracie – threw in the towel. 

Video: Masahiko Kimura face Helio Gracie in 1951

The official Gracie Jiu Jitsu University shares the historical moment on that fight:

On October 23, 1951, Helio Gracie fights Masahiko Kimura, the best Japanese Jiu-Jitsu fighter of his day.  […] Kimura, who was eighty pounds heavier than Helio, was so confident of victory that he declared if Helio lasted more than three minutes he should be considered the winner.  Helio frustrated Kimura for thirteen minutes before Carlos ended the fight to protect his brother from serious injury due to the shoulder lock that today bears Kimura’s name.  […] Kimura was so impressed with Helio’s technical skill that he invited him to share his improvements with his Japanese peers.

One pain – different names

The submission hold that we know in BJJ as the Kimura lock in fact is very popular in different grappling martial arts and was utilized much earlier than the Gracie vs Kimura match took place. It is believed that Mitsuyo Maeda and Masahiko Kimura have brought this technique to Japan after they have been training with catch wrestlers. As know catch wrestling exists since 1870.

In traditional judo kimura shoulder lock is called gyaku ude-garami (reverse plexus of hands), in catch wrestling it’s the double wristlock, and in freestyle wrestling it is known as a chicken wing.

How to do a Kimura lock from guard

The popular Chewjitsu channel shares small details on how to apply the kimura lock step by step from closed guard. Great video for white belts, but not only, as we all know – it’s better to repeat the basics than not.

From the comments on the video, we can see satisfied BJJ athletes.

Kimura BJJ Lifestyle

One of the benefits of BJJ and martial arts is that you can take your favorite sports into your daily life. We have made a pick of the best jiu jitsu t shirts relating the Kimura and jiu jitsu mood.

Kimura vs Americana lock: What is the difference

Kimura and Americana very often are going together. The difference between Americana and Kimura is simple: it depends on which way the palm of the locked arm is pointing. If you see the opponent’s palm side when utilizing the rotation – it is the Americana. And if you see the back side of the hand – it’s Kimura.

Escaping kimura lock and americana is the another part of the game. Let’s ask Mr. Kesting for help, because he always has an answer.

How to escape the Kimura and Americana armlocks from side control

Can you lock hands in UFC? This kimura submission video footage is the answer.

The Top Kimura UFC Finishes


In any incomprehensible situation do the kimura lock.

Check other BJJ news and articles about jiu jitsu training, BJJ fighters and MMA athletes. For instance, Female Jiu Jitsu Black Belt Fights against White Belt.

Enable registration in settings - general