MMA & the Kimura Part 1 (diary entry)


The tenth lesson of my client’s second course of Mixed Martial Arts for Martial Arts Cross Training. I went into the lesson with a view to reviewing MMA as a whole. My client was not adverse to this decision, but was primarily concerned about going over locks. Based on this discussion, we did both.

We warmed up with some footwork and light target striking, moving into the clinch and close-range striking, followed by entries for hip throws and double leg takedowns, and finishing with a top position transitional drill.

Having rounded up the three ranges, we looked at the Kimura key lock. This submission hold has been famous by Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is now well-known in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. It made its mark in the history of BJJ when Kimura Masahiko broke Helio Gracie’s arm with it during their famous bout. I find that most people learn its close-cousin, the Americana arm-lock, a lot faster. However, it is not quite as versatile. The Kimura can be pulled out of a number of different positions and is a useful default attack that anyone can access when they secure a pin. Its “grip” can even be applied to execute an arm-bar and it is one of a rare set of moves that can be pulled off from a subordinate position. We will come to these another time.

We began by going back to raw basics. Contrary to the traditional Japanese way that is often taught through the Daito Ryu family of ju jutsu schools, I find that many grappling holds are best taught from a standing position. In my opinion, and I am sure there are plenty of submission masters out there who will happily disagree with me, the Kimura isn’t the best move to execute from a standing position. Even the Americana, despite its regular display as a restraining hold, requires a pretty good level of skill to slap onto an opponent that is at least your equal in size and/or level of ability. In this domain, my grappling preference is for big wrestling holds that allow for a larger margin for error and recoverability. Nevertheless, it is a great way to isolate the mechanics of the Kimura. Please see the excellent embedded footage of an application of the standing Kimura. Once my client was comfortable performing this movement without looking we progressed to the next easiest position to perform the move: from guard. Here the “grip” can be used to sweep or to submit, depending on the opponent’s reactions. We then covered the Kimura from side control and north- south pins.

The lesson finished with some conditioning exercises on the focus mitts from the stand-up range.


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