Advanced Kimura Grip Trail-Arm Concepts: A BJJ Tutorial

Updated on April 4, 2020
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Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

Using the Kimura grip.
Using the Kimura grip.

Digging Deeper

As we delve deeper into the Kimura grip concepts, particularly from the trail-arm setup scenarios, we note that there are some key tricks to use both during the all-important transition from grip to finish, and from the finish itself. The aim of this tutorial is to take you into some of the finer details after you've caught the trail arm and hit the roll. It's worth noting that you might also reach some of these same positions through other means, like the floating pass and especially El Gato and the trade, but grabbing this grip from the trail-arm catch is almost certain to bring up these scenarios. Let's get started!

Staying on Top, but Staying Lazy

If you haven't already done so, please be sure to study the "Catching the Trail Arm Concepts" Kimura tutorial first! Once you have that stuff down, all of these concepts will be super helpful. Start with the basic "trail arm catch" maneuver from the knee-cut pass, making sure to pay attention to all the key details, especially draping far enough over so that you can hook the arm. Once you reach the stargazer position (Daniel Frank's phrase), you have a certain amount of fluidity on how you use your right arm.

In this video, I actually turn my arm over as my partner is trying to come up on top. This not only elevates their elbow, but also drives their hand into their stomach, where you want it to stay. Once your hips are turned over, it's business as usual.

Remember: If you establish the pre-armbar position (your partner is on their side and you have the Kimura grip), you can test the waters by hanging onto the Kimura and leaning back. If the arm comes away, you can do a really fast Kimura finish (shoulder lock). If they're hanging on for dear life, this sets up the armbar nicely.

Fast Finish Details

One small, quick tweak during the initial catch: You can also hook your partner's wrist (like a wrestling "one on one") before grabbing their wrist and transitioning to the Kimura grip. And here's a much better look at the fast Kimura finish once you get your partner propped up in the pre-armbar position. As you pull back, you'll sometimes notice that your partner isn't really holding on to their other wrist (or to their jacket or pants, in the gi). While the whole system of moving around your partner revolves around them holding onto the grip, there are much, much simpler finishes that don't, and this is one.

As your partner releases their grip, you can lean back to make sure they're really not going to be grabbing anything. Now angle their (completely free) wrist down and back across their back, making sure to block their shoulder with your elbow. The great thing about this fast finish is that you don't have to step over their head in order to get the submission. It's really a fast set up!

Taking the Back: Don't Forget

Alternatively, as expressed previously, you might either want to take the back from the pass, or else your partner is going to put you in a position where it's much easier to take the back than to finish the Kimura, as shown in this video. If you want the back, make sure you're crossfacing your partner during the drape portion of the roll. Sometimes you can include their head after the roll, but it's much easier to catch when you're both sort of weightless. From here, it's once again business as usual, as you can go through the basic back take motions described previously.

Wrapping Up

As you practice these techniques, you'll find yourself further and further down the rabbit hole of Kimura grips, catching them on progressively more skilled partners (and opponents, if you're competing!). I've seen many of these techniques work in pro MMA fights just a few days after I taught them, and likewise in advanced no-gi divisions and black belt matches from my students, not to mention my own successes at the gym and on the competition mats. These techniques work really well, and they can change the game!

Back take or armbar finish?

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© 2015 Andrew Smith


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