How to Use the Kimura From the Turtle Position in BJJ

KMRR Turtle

Nearly everyone who was a fan of MMA in the late 1990s remembers Kazushi Sakuraba as being one of the greatest fighters of all time. Sakuraba utilized the Kimura grip from the bottom to execute amazing reversals and to finish many top fighters of the time. My own Kimura game was largely inspired by Sakuraba early on, although my own orthodox BJJ training (and judo!) provided a nice framework for this unorthodox augmentation. Here, we'll take a look at grabbing the Kimura during a guard pass and executing a nice reversal from a turtle position a couple of different ways. If you're unfamiliar with the spinning armbar finish and the ensuing Kimura counters, you may find it useful to familiarize yourself with those before reading any further.

The Basic Bump

This position begins when you've grabbed the Kimura grip from the bottom as your opponent is trying to pass your guard, but your partner doesn't spin around to finish the spinning armbar as a counter, and also doesn't do the "Re-Kimura" switch. Instead, you find yourself stuck on the bottom with the grip, with your opponent past your legs, but still not in a secure side control position. Using the Kimura grip, like always, as an anchor (as opposed to as a submission), push away and use this to start to build your base up to the turtle position. Next up, pull the grip in toward you while pushing in to your partner with your hip (if you've done judo, this resembles a maki komi throw, just from the knees.) Once you've bumped your partner down, you can either continue to turn your back and finish an easy straight armbar (if they keep their arm straight), or hop over to pass their guard and end up in side control (if they are locking their arms together, which is likely.) You might also end up with one leg caught, like with "The Trade."

Sumi Gaeshi

The second option arises when you have gotten up to your knees, and you're trying to bump your partner over (the "barrel roll" is another way to envision the above technique), but your partner is resisting by pushing back into you. Like any properly lazy jiu jitsu practitioner, you're going to use their energy against them. While keeping the Kimura grip with your right arm over the top (and your left hand gripping their wrist), step up with your left leg so that you have a post from which to drive. Now sit back down, underneath your partner, elevating their hips by driving their grip into their thigh as they grip to defend. You're going to finish with a lazy "El Gato" position.

Sumi, Part 2

Here, my partner has lifted his leg up as I execute the sumi gaeshi-type throw, so you can really see me utilizing the same side leg hook to elevate (this is extremely similar to the throw I show in the Kimuras from the feet tutorial.) Given that your leg is likely to be stuck here, be ready to free it with your free leg (again, hearken back to "The Trade" position.) If your partner is locking their arms together, feel free to move on to the triangle. If your partner lets go, move to that lazy El Gato (or "stargazer") position. If your partner doesn't capture your leg, it really is like a throw (as in the second example shown in the video.) There are quite a few possibilities that arise from this one position, and it's going to be largely up to you to oblige your partner based on their reaction.

Kimura - turtle or half guard?

  • Turtle!
  • Half guard!
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Chaining Together

Obviously, a thorough knowledge of options from the Kimura grip is heartily recommended. If you're unsure where to begin, or if this stuff is a little bit confusing right now, try starting with "How to Pass the Guard with the Kimura." Your knowledge base will build up over time, with the basic idea being to use the Kimura as a grip (position) as well as a submission. As always, let me know if this stuff works for you and makes sense!

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