The Kimura lock is one of the highest percentage finishes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is a move everyone uses, given its versatility in working from the top, bottom, and even standing positions. However, not many people think of the Kimura as a controlling position that allows you to move in between positions and threaten with different submissions than just a shoulder lock along the way. Such a system exists, and it is known as the Kimura trap system.
The Versatility of The BJJ Kimura
The Kimura is a shoulder lock you learn as one of the first submissions when you start training Jiu Jitsu. It works from many different positions and is not hard to get.
The Kimura, named after Masahiko Kimura, the Japanese Judoka who broke Helio Gracie’s arm with the move, is a submission hold that is present in every form of submission grappling.
The move is very recognizable as a result of the grip configuration used to get into the position for finishing the submission. It utilizes a figure four grip, where you use one of your arms to grip the opponent’s wrist, while you use the other arm to grab your own wrist, but only after you place that arm over and around the opponent’s upper arm.
Locking your arms in figure four, or Kimura grip, traps the opponent’s arm in a very precarious position. The grip helps you use the opponent’s forearm as a lever to control their elbow. The control you gain over the elbow allows you to place a devastating rotational breaking pressure on the opponent’s shoulder.
The grip is responsible for providing a different use for the Kimura apart from a submission which is using it asap a position of control, or the Kimura trap.
Finsihing The Kimura Lock
The basic principle that makes all armlocks work applies to the Kimura lock tool. Namely, as long as you have control over the two neighboring joints of the joint you are intended to break, you will be able to apply the pressure you are after.
In the case of the Kimura lock, you need to get control over the elbow and the neck, as the two neighboring joints in relation to the shoulder. The Kimura trap grips already provide you with control over the elbow. You can accentuate this control by ensuring that you keep the opponent’s elbow as bent as possible at all times.
The control over the neck depends on your positioning. From the top, you’ll use a leg to trap the head directly. From guard, you use the positioning of your torso (turning towards the opponent) to achieve the same thing. In this case of guard, your torso positioning makes the opponent piledrive into the mats head first, which blocks the neck.
Finishing the Kmirua once you have control over both neighboring joints is as easy as rotating the opponent’s arm behind their back.
An Introduction to The Kimura Trap System
It just so happens that this finishing portion of the Kimura is the hardest to apply live. The submission, as versatile and highly used as it is, has plenty of early, middle and late counters and defenses that end up with people surviving the attempts at a finish.
If you are in such a situation, it does not mean that you should immediately let go and attack something else. On the contrary, this is where the Kimura trap system kicks into gear, offering a whole new world of Kimura opportunities.
The Kimura trap system revolves around the control you gain via the initial figure four grip. As long as you iron out a few grip details, you can rest assured that you will be able not just to control your opponent but use the same grip to transition between different positions, scoring points as you do.
There are two key things you need to know about the Kimura grip when you want to use it to control people with the Kimura trap.
The first is to grip the opponent’s soft part of the palm as well as their wrist with your hand. A basic rule of thumb is to use the pinky and ring finger over the palm and the middle and index finger over the wrist.
This provides you with much better control over the wrist and, subsequently, over the entire arm via the levers you create.
The second is to straighten your elbows as much as possible. Forget about all the nonsense about having to keep your chest glued to the opponent’s upper arm. Include the palm in your wrist grip and extend both elbows as much as you can.
The result is a very sharply bent elbow and immense control over the arm that prevents the opponent from heading in any direction. Welcome to the Kimura trap.
If you find yourself hunting for a side control/ North-South Kimura, and the finish eludes you, an ideal solution would be to use the Kimura trap setup and transition into back control.
As long as you have the Kimura trap grips set up as described, you’ll be able to pick the opponent up high enough to thread a knee underneath their bottom hip. Once you have that, you can use the edge to tilt them over, establishing hooks as you turn to your side.
You do not need to let go of the Kimura trap – you’ll get back points for the hooks alone. In fact, keeping the grip will offer a lot more submission options than just a rear-naked choke.
From side control, using the Kimura trap to get to the mount is fairly easy – you can literally throw a leg over in any manner that you like.
The more useful application for the Kimura trap is from the guard when you can’t seem to finish the Kimura lock. Using the Kimura trap to control the torso, you can freely open up your legs, bridge up and roll towards the side of the trapped arm. You’ll end up with an easy sweep and an even easier 6 points.
One of the best use of the Kimura trap is to pass the guard. While on top, you often get the opportunity to establish the grip, but the most common scenarios involve passing the butterfly guard or the half guard.
Against the butterfly guard from a standing position, you can easily isolate an arm, looking to get the grip over the opponent’s upper arm first. Once you have it, you can do a front roll, sneaking in the wrist grip as you do, and end up in side control with a firm Kimura trap.
Against half guard, you want to focus on the opponent’s top arm, establishing the Kimura trap configuration. Once you have it, you simply switch your hips, trying to get your hip as close as possible to the opponent’s head.
They’ll be so focused at the KImrua that they will let you waltz right past their half guard and into side control.
The best use of the Kimura trap when standing is to counter opponents attempting a single leg takedown on you.
When they are holding the position, they leave both their arms open for a Kimura trap, pick one and establish the grips. From there, you can even allow them to take you down and turn the tide in your favor, countering with an immediate sweep to get the top position.
The Kimura trap system is an amazing position of control that is not fixed in the same way that scoring positions like knee on belly, mount, and back mount are. It offers the same, if not greater, a modicum of control while allowing you to roam free and move around, switching position and never allowing the opponent to regain control of the match.
Of course, you can always finish the match right there, given that forcing people into different positions via the Kimura trap actually makes finishing the Kiumura lock much easier.