The New Kimura Lock by Olympic Judo Champion Satoshi Ishii

20.12.2020 by

The Kimura lock is a staple of grappling martial arts, but in BJJ, it is one of the moves you simply can’t go without. While there are plenty of variations out there to it, when one of the best Judokas in the world shares a new one, we’ll be listening! In this short video,  Bernardo Faria teams up with Judo Satoshi Ishii to give us a new, tighter kimura lock variation.

The Power Of The Kimura Lock 

The kimura lock is a shoulder lock submission hold that uses a very specific grip configuration to lock the arm in place while offering the chance to exert extreme pressure on the shoulder. the reason why the Kimura lock is so widely used is that it is a move that you can set up from virtually anywhere – top, bottom, and even standing. 

Mechanically speaking, what you get with the Kimura lock is a lever that helps you amplify the pressure placed on the shoulder joint. The best comparison would be using a wrench – that is precisely how the Kimura works. The grip makes sure you have control over the forearm, whereas your body helps you control the opponent’s neck (two neighboring joints).

The finish is also not complicated – try and touch the opponent’s palm to their opposite side shoulder, behind their back. Whether you’re attacking from the guard or from the top, the principle is the same. A helpful hint is to try and keep the palm of the opponent closer to their body at all times, having a sharp angle in the elbow joint of the arm you’re attacking. Satoshi does the same.

The Kimura lock is a Judo move (known as the reverse ude-garami). In fact, it was a very famous Judoka by the name of Masahiko Kimura that popularized the move by submitting nonother than Helio Gracie himself. Actually, Gracie technically never submitted, but Masahiko broke his arm (twice), which ended their 13-minute match.

The shoulder lock he used later became known as the Kimura in honor of this huge victory which even the Gracies acknowledged.

A New take On The Kimura Lock by Satoshi Ishii

Even though the original Kimura lock, with the basic grips and all, is still widely in use, there have been plenty of modifications to the submission throughout the years. Thera rea now different grip combinations, and even versions of the Kimura which you can finish using your legs instead of your arms. But it is not just BJJ athletes that have been tinkering with it.

Satoshi Ishii, another Judoka of the Masahiko Kimura mold, has his own take on how to set up the Kimura lock. He likes to use a modified grip that sees the figure four configuration at wrist level completely abandoned. Known for beating heavyweight elite level Judokas while weighing considerably less than them, Ishii has one of the tightest Kimura lock variations to ever exist.

Satoshi’s Kimura setup works from the side control or North-South positions. Satoshi starts off the setup as you would a side control Kimura – placing one arm over the opponent’s upper arm. However, instead of gripping the wrist with the other arm, Ishii likes to leave it loose,  grabbing his own biceps with the arm that’s already over the upper arm of the opponent instead.

This new grip provides much better leverage over the shoulder joint, mainly because it suspends it in the air. Ishii accomplishes that by gripping his own elbow with the free arm so that he has a closed loop around the opponent’s elbow. Escaping this Kimura lock grip is nearly impossible and there are many ways to increase the pressure.

Apart from a direct finish by tilting with the hips towards the opponent’s legs, you can also transition into the North-South positions to greatly enhance the power of the lock. You’ll notice Satoshi even going into a modified Kesa Gatame-like position on the side of the arm he is attacking to make it unbearably painful.

Final Thoughts

The Kimura lock, new or old, is a great submission to have in your arsenal. It will work for anyone, from white belt to black, in gi and no-gi, from the top to from the bottom. Using Satoshi Ishii’s modified new Kimura, though, will help you make your shoulder locks a lot more formidable, and most importantly, extremely difficult to escape. Happy hunting!