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Brazilian Jiu-jitsu: How to do a Kimura Shoulder Lock

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is martial art that specializes in chokes and joint locks to submit an opponent primarily on the ground. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu or BJJ as it is commonly referred to as is one of the most popular martial arts in the world. BJJ's popularity is due in many parts to its prominence in mixed martial arts, the military and now in movies and television. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a great martial art for children, teens and adults. BJJ offers great self defense skills for women since it is focused on empowering a smaller individual to be able to defeat a larger attacker through proven principles of leverage, momentum and balance.

One of the basic submissions taught in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is the Kimura shoulder lock. Developed years ago and first perfected in Japan by Judo students, the Kimura lock is a favorite weapon of many Brazilian Jiu-jitsu fighters. In fact, the term Kimura was named in honor of a great Judo fighter by Helio Gracie -- generally considered to be the originator of modern day BJJ.

The Kimura can be deployed from various positions on the ground. In fact, BJJ practitioners have even learned how to use a standing version of the Kimura to set up an impressive take down. For purposes of this article, the Kimura will be described from the guard position. In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, the guard is when you are laying on your back and you have your legs wrapped around the waist of your kneeling opponent. The Kimura is a BJJ submission that is attempted generally when the opponent in the guard places their hands on the floor for balance. When this occurs the BJJ student first reaches out and grabs the opponent's wrist and keeps it on the floor. Then the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu grappler will sit up and take their other arm and wrap it behind their opponent's captured arm and then grab their own wrist. By grabbing their own arm, often referred to as a figure four in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu schools, the BJJ student gains additional leverage.

Once the arm of the opponent is secured in the above described manner, the BJJ student falls back down to the floor and at the same time pulls the opponents arm up off the floor. Once, off the floor then the BJJ student is able to use both of their arms to push the opponent's hand towards the base of their opponent's head. This movement put significant stress on the muscle and joint of the shoulder and will in a bjj class or Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournament result in a tap of submission and hence a victory. In a street combat situation, such a Kimura lock successfully locked on will give the BJJ fighter the ability to control his or her attacker without permanent injury.

The Kimura lock is one of the "go to moves" in the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu arsenal because it is relatively easy to set up, apply and finish. In addition, because the Kimura utilizes the unique power multiplying effect of the figure four hand position it can be done successfully on a much larger and stronger opponent.

If you would like to learn the Kimura Lock or experience the power of the martial art of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu wander into your nearest BJJ Dojo and try a class. If you live in the Traverse City area in Northern Michigan please feel free to look up my Academy -- Seung-ni Martial Arts. We offer Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for adult men and women as well as teens. In addition, we teach Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as an integral part of both our Child Taekwondo programs and Women's Self Defense. I can be reached at 231.932.4300 or check out our website at

The author Mike Opper is a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and an instructor at the Seung-ni Martial Arts Academy in Traverse City.

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