Kimura Grip Trail Arm Series: Chaining and El Gato, a BJJ Tutorial

Updated on April 9, 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.

How to utilize the trail arm.
How to utilize the trail arm.

Delving Deeply

Okay, so things are getting pretty interesting now. You've been playing with the Kimura system for a few months now, and you're hitting people left and right with the grip, but you're not always able to pass the guard or finish the submission, or you're running into some other minor issues. This tutorial delves more deeply into the troubleshooting aspects of "El Gato" after the trail arm catch, and moves on to a couple of different finishes: one old school, and one more unorthodox, but still wildly effective. Let's get started!

Chaining the Three Positions

Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you haven't already taken a look at the Catching the Trail Arm Kimura sequence tutorials, please take a few moments to do so. In this first sequence, start with a basic knee cut pass (here, I use some of the tricks from passing reverse De La Riva guard in order to set up a basic knee cut from there) in order to bait your partner into posting to come up.

By now, catching the trail arm should be second nature for you, and you should catch it fairly smoothly any time the opportunity presents itself. Pulling your partner's elbow forward and then rolling over your right shoulder should allow you to have a nice opportunity to move into a basic "stargazer" sequence, provided your partner doesn't snag your leg with their legs (in which case, just revert back to "The Trade"). Note the detail that turning your right wrist up will prevent your partner from immediately coming up on top while you move around to side control and get on top. Finally, lifting the elbow up will help to force your partner up onto their side, facilitating a basic north/south Kimura finish (more on that below).

North/South Finish

Here, the details of the pass sequence are essentially the same, with particular attention focused on the wrist curl (keeping your partner from coming up on top). Once you have the pass complete and your partner is forced onto their side, a north/south Kimura finish is a decent possibility, provided you're able to break any grip your partner is keeping (and if you can't break the grip, you'd simply revert to the much more common earlier finishes shown throughout this series, including taking the back or the armbar).

If you can, slide your left knee across your partner's biceps preemptively, cutting off their last line of defense to their other hand. Now, just posture tall with the Kimura grip. This accomplishes two objectives: first, your partner won't be able to grip anything, and second, your partner's shoulder will be partially pulled out of the socket, tightening up the ligaments and making the finish much easier. Now just rotate your whole body to the right, keeping your elbows glued into your ribs (think of your upper body as one unit here).

The Triangle

If, during the "stargazer" position, your partner happens to hold onto your leg by clasping their hands together (thus preventing your move to north/south or side control), take this for the opportunity that it is: a chance to finish a new submission. Slide your hips to the other side of your partner's head (I accomplish this in the video by sliding first forward, and then around my partner's head, being much nicer than smashing through their head with your hips).

Now, pull their far elbow all the way in, so that your "knee pit" ends up matching up with their armpit. From here, you can bite down on a solid figure four triangle if you have longer legs (or shorter, but flexible, legs). If you don't, you can use the threat of a triangle to encourage your partner to let go so that you can finish the pass as normal.

Triangle or N/S finish?

See results

In Closing

In closing, this Kimura sequence has served me extremely well over the last decade as it has evolved. I've been able to use it frequently as "A game" material in both competition and on the mats at my own gym and many, many other gyms. The great thing about this sequence is that it relies upon your partner being knowledgeable and making predictable movements. As always, let me know how it works for you!

© 2015 Andrew Smith


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