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Kimuras From the Takedown Attempt: A BJJ Tutorial

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

The ever-versatile Kimura.

The ever-versatile Kimura.

Kimura to Defend the Takedown

I first watched Kazushi Sakuraba defend wrestling shots with the Kimura grip more than 15 years ago, and Saku's antics certainly left an indelible mark on my jiu-jitsu growth over the years. I came from a wrestling background, and then became involved with judo, so when I started integrating the Kimura into my game much more heavily (about 10 years ago now), I saw all kinds of applications in takedown defense, many simple variations of wrestling or judo techniques I was already very familiar with, and then some that I wasn't quite so familiar with began to evolve over time.

Here are a few of the more basic variations of this concept—using the Kimura grip to neutralize a takedown when your opponent makes the simple mistake of not having their elbow in close to their side.

The "Drape" Into the Crucifix

In this first technique, it is imperative that I have the ability to balance on one foot, at least temporarily. Once my opponent has grabbed my lead leg, I need to be sure he can't get my far leg, thus switching to a double leg takedown (and making my defense completely different). When my opponent shoots in here, he has dropped his head in going after my leg. I'm going to push his head down and then "drape" over his neck with my stomach, thus making it very difficult for him to posture or get his head free.

Now I can grab the Kimura grip itself, having gotten his head/posture out of the way. Once the Kimura is attained and the "belly on neck" position achieved, it's just a matter of dropping back and dragging my opponent to the ground, using all of my weight on his back/neck. At this point, you have effectively established a "dominant turtle" position, which in and of itself is a pretty good result. However, we're using that left leg to move our opponent's arm forward, and from there, setting up an easy entry into the crucifix. The crucifix yields numerous high percentage, low-risk finishes.

Judo Throw!

In this second option, the wrestling shot once again takes place with his head on the inside. I need to stuff it right away, making sure I establish the now-coveted "belly on neck" position from the last technique. Again, I can't allow my opponent to grab my far leg, lest I be taken down with a simple double leg takedown transition.

Once I've managed to establish the Kimura grip (again, reaching over my opponent's neck in order to do so), I need to hook with my left foot (as in the video) behind my opponent's right thigh, just north of where his knee bends. From here, I can sit in very close, underneath my opponent (making sure not to be too far away). It's important that my knee bends here so that I can both lift my opponent, and so that I don't spear him with my knee on his ribs. The throw is called sumi gaeshi, and it's one I used numerous times in my competitive judo career.

As my opponent lands from the throw, I can allow my Kimura grip to pass over to the other side of his head, thus setting up a classic belly-down Kimura finish (one of my favorites). This finish relies on putting your weight on your opponent's shoulder with your ribcage. Suffice it to say; it's a nasty, effective finish.

Kimura Mania!

Kimura Mania!

Another Sumi Gaeshi: A Different Finish

Once again, my opponent can't get enough of my left leg (maybe it's because I keep putting it out there for him to grab). After stuffing the head and once again establishing that Kimura grip, I'm all set to go into my judo throw. Again, I want to get underneath my opponent, bending both knees during the throw.

This time, however, my opponent stays more balled up during the throw. As a result, I'm not able to pass my Kimura grip over to the other side of his head. The finishing position is, therefore, half Kimura and half harness (or "seat belt," as it is sometimes called). This means that I am essentially already on my opponent's back.

To seal the deal, it's easy for me to pull my opponent into my lap, always focusing on getting the near side hook in first. Once my hooks are established, it may be easier at this point to pass my Kimura grip over to the other side of my opponent's head, thus setting up the (very high percentage) armlock finish with the Kimura grip, from the back.

A Game Changer

The Kimura grip itself is incredibly dominant, and it's a real game-changer if you haven't played around with it too much. You might want to check out how to pass the guard using the Kimura, another video tutorial on the subject. As always, I welcome feedback. What's working for you? What's not working? I want to hear it! Leave a comment for me, and I'll respond.