The Versatility of the Kimura Chokehold in MMA

March 10, 2023
From: Spartacus
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Choke holds are like the magic tricks of grappling in Mixed Martial Arts, and the Kimura choke hold is a total game-changer. It involves applying pressure to your opponent’s shoulder joint and can make even the toughest opponents tap out. Whether you’re just starting out in MMA or a seasoned pro, understanding the Kimura choke hold can give you the upper hand in the cage. So, let’s dive in and learn how to master this powerful technique!

History of the Kimura Choke Hold

Picture this: it’s October 23, 1951, and the martial arts world is buzzing with excitement as Kimura, a skilled Japanese Judoka, takes on Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, in an epic battle of grappling mastery.

Gracie was considered unbeatable at the time, having defeated countless challengers with his impressive grappling skills. But Kimura had a plan to prove that Japanese Judo was just as effective. The two fighters went head to head in an intense match, with both using their techniques to gain the upper hand.

As the fight wore on, it became clear that the match would come down to the wire. But it was Kimura who managed to pull off the impossible by locking in his now-famous Kimura choke hold. With Gracie on the ground, Kimura used his strength and leverage to force him to submit and secure the victory.

Kimura’s victory over Gracie was a pivotal moment in martial arts history, showing that Judo techniques could hold their own against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The Kimura choke hold has since become a go-to submission move in MMA and grappling competitions, proving that sometimes the old tricks are the best.

What is the Kimura Choke Hold?

Named after its creator, the legendary Japanese judoka Masahiko Kimura, this submission technique involves trapping your opponent’s arm in a figure-four grip, with your arm wrapped around their arm, wrist, and shoulder, forming what’s commonly known as the “Kimura grip.” From there, you can apply pressure to your opponent’s shoulder joint, causing discomfort and pain and potentially forcing them to submit.

The Kimura Choke hold is like a Swiss army knife in the MMA world, as it can be executed from various positions and can attack multiple joints in your opponent’s body. Plus, it’s great for controlling your opponent’s movements and position in the ring. However, it’s crucial to execute this move properly and with caution to avoid injuring your opponent.

The Kimura choke hold is an essential technique to master in MMA. It can be used from top mount, side control, or back control positions and is perfect for transitioning between them. Moreover, it can be a set up for other attacks, making it a valuable weapon in your MMA arsenal.

The Mechanics of the Kimura Choke Hold

To perform the Kimura choke hold, you need to secure your opponent’s arm in a figure-four grip, and your own arm will wrap around their arm, wrist, and shoulder, creating the Kimura grip. Once you’ve got this grip in place, you apply leverage to their shoulder joint, which causes pain and discomfort, and ultimately can force them to submit.

But here’s the kicker – the Kimura choke hold isn’t just a one-trick pony. It’s a multi-purpose technique that can be used to attack multiple joints in the opponent’s body, including the shoulder and wrist. Plus, it’s a great tool for transitioning between positions, creating openings for other attacks, and controlling your opponent’s movement.

Proper training and execution are crucial for using the Kimura choke hold safely. You don’t want to cause any unnecessary injuries to your opponent. So, make sure you learn the proper mechanics of the move and practise it under the guidance of a professional coach.

The Application of the Kimura Choke Hold in MMA

Here’s Spartacus MMA’s step-by-step guide to the Kimura choke hold:

Step 1

Start by positioning yourself next to your opponent, with your legs on either side of their body.

Step 2

Use your arm to reach over your opponent’s arm, so that their arm is between your arm and your body.

Step 3

Grab your own wrist with your other hand, creating a figure-four grip around your opponent’s arm. This is known as the Kimura grip.

Step 4

Secure your grip by pulling your opponent’s arm towards your own body.

Step 5

Shift your position slightly, moving towards your opponent’s head while keeping your grip on their arm.

Step 6

Use your other hand to secure your opponent’s wrist, pulling their arm towards your own body and creating more leverage.

Step 7

Use your body weight to put pressure on your opponent’s shoulder joint, forcing them to submit or causing pain and discomfort.

Step 8

Maintain control of your opponent’s arm and shoulder while applying pressure, ensuring that they cannot escape or counter your technique.

Step 9

Once you have secured the submission, release the pressure gradually and safely, allowing your opponent to tap out or signalling to the referee to stop the fight.


How to escape the Kimura Choke Hold?

The best way to avoid getting caught in a Kimura choke hold is to learn proper defence techniques and avoid putting yourself in vulnerable positions. But if you do find yourself in a tight spot, don’t give up! There’s always a way out if you stay calm, think creatively, and act quickly. We have Spartacus MMA’s tricks and tips to escape out of one:

Rotate Your Shoulder

If your opponent has secured the Kimura grip, try rotating your shoulder in the opposite direction to the pressure being applied. This can relieve some of the pressure on your shoulder joint and make it harder for your opponent to apply the choke hold.

Roll Out of the Hold

Another way to escape the Kimura choke hold is to roll out of the hold. Quickly tuck your chin to your chest and roll in the opposite direction of your opponent, making it harder for them to maintain control of your arm and apply the choke hold.

Attack Your Opponent’s Arm

If your opponent has secured the Kimura grip, try attacking their arm to release the hold. You can try pulling your arm out and reversing the grip, or even attacking your opponent’s arm with strikes or a joint lock.

Use Your Legs

If you’re in a position where you can use your legs, try using them to apply pressure on your opponent’s body or arm. This can make it harder for them to maintain the Kimura grip and give you an opportunity to escape.


Risks and potential injuries associated with the Kimura Choke Hold

When it comes to the Kimura choke hold, it’s important to recognize that with great power comes great responsibility. As with any submission technique, there are risks and potential injuries involved for both the practitioner and the opponent.

For the opponent, the primary danger of the Kimura choke hold is damage to the shoulder joint. If the hold is applied too forcefully or for too long, it can cause serious injury such as dislocation or tearing. It’s important to always listen to your opponent and release the hold immediately if they signal for you to stop.

As for the practitioner, the main risk is the potential for an opponent’s retaliation. If the hold is not executed properly or if the opponent manages to escape, they may be able to counterattack and cause injury.

To reduce the risk of injury, proper training and practice of the Kimura choke hold is essential. Practitioners should focus on learning the correct technique and maintaining control throughout the entire hold. It’s also important to be aware of the risks and to take safety precautions during both practice and competition. With the right approach, the Kimura choke hold can be a highly effective technique with minimal risk of injury for both parties involved.

Common mistakes made when executing the Kimura Choke Hold 

You’re in the heat of battle, ready to unleash the powerful Kimura choke hold on your opponent. But wait, before you dive in headfirst, let’s take a moment to uncover some common mistakes and how to sidestep them like a pro!

Not Securing the Grip Correctly

Don’t let that opponent wriggle away! Ensure your grip is locked and loaded by firmly grabbing their wrist and securing your own arm. No slippery business here!

Lack of Control 

Keep your cool and maintain control over your opponent’s arm throughout the entire manoeuvre. Don’t let them escape or turn the tables on you. You’re the one calling the shots!

Improper Body Positioning

Positioning is key, my friend. Make sure your body is in the perfect spot to apply maximum pressure in the right direction. We’re talking precision here, not some wild, flailing dance routine.

Over-Reliance on Strength 

Remember, it’s not all about raw power. The Kimura choke hold is a cunning technique that relies on leverage and finesse. Don’t muscle your way through it, finesse it with style!

Lack of Awareness

Stay sharp and aware of your opponent’s every move. Adjust your technique accordingly and don’t get caught off guard by their sneaky manoeuvres. Stay one step ahead!


You are now armed with the knowledge and techniques required to execute this submission move like a pro. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep honing your skills to ensure you can execute the Kimura choke hold effectively and safely.

As with any martial arts technique, it is important to remember that safety is a top priority. Always train with a partner and take the necessary precautions to prevent injury. Don’t forget to communicate with your partner and respect each other’s boundaries.

Now that you have mastered the Kimura choke hold, you can add it to your arsenal of moves and use it to dominate your opponents in competition. But always remember, with great power comes great responsibility, so use your new skills wisely and only in self-defence or in the spirit of friendly competition.

Good luck and keep on training!


What is the Kimura Choke Hold?

The Kimura Choke Hold is a high-leverage submission technique that targets your opponent’s shoulder joint. Using a figure-four grip, also known as the Kimura grip, you apply pressure on the shoulder, which can force even seasoned fighters to tap out. Think of it as the Swiss army knife in MMA; it’s versatile, effective, and game-changing.

Who invented the Kimura Choke Hold?

The legendary Japanese Judoka, Masahiko Kimura, is the namesake and popularizer of the Kimura Choke Hold. He utilised this move in a historic bout against Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, showing the world its effectiveness.

How do you execute a Kimura Choke Hold step-by-step?

Start by positioning next to your opponent, reach over their arm, and grip your own wrist, creating a figure-four (Kimura grip). Pull their arm towards your body, shift your position towards their head, and secure their wrist. Finally, apply body weight pressure on their shoulder until they tap out or submit.

Can the Kimura Choke Hold be applied from different positions?

Absolutely, it’s the utility player of submission holds. It can be executed from the top mount, side control, or back control positions. This makes it highly adaptable and a great setup for other attacks too.

What are the mechanics involved in performing the Kimura Choke Hold?

It’s all about the grip and leverage. Secure your opponent’s arm with a figure-four grip, then use your body weight and positioning to apply pressure to their shoulder joint. It’s not just about brute force; it’s a clever combination of technique and leverage.

How can you escape from a Kimura Choke Hold?

Stay calm and think quick. Rotate your shoulder opposite to the applied pressure or roll out of the hold. You can also counter-attack by targeting your opponent’s arm or using your legs to break their grip.

What risks and potential injuries are associated with the Kimura Choke Hold?

With great power comes great responsibility. If applied too forcefully, it could dislocate or tear your opponent’s shoulder joint. For the practitioner, there’s a risk of counterattacks if the hold isn’t secured properly.

How was the Kimura Choke Hold pivotal in martial arts history?

When Kimura defeated Helio Gracie using this hold, it was a watershed moment that proved Judo techniques could match Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in effectiveness. It redefined the grappling landscape and has been a go-to submission move since.

What common mistakes should be avoided when executing a Kimura Choke Hold?

Don’t botch the grip; make it solid. Maintain control throughout the hold and position your body effectively for maximum pressure. Don’t just muscle through; finesse is key. Stay aware of your opponent’s moves to adjust your technique accordingly.

What safety precautions should be taken when practising the Kimura Choke Hold?

Always practise under professional supervision to avoid injuries. Make sure to communicate openly with your training partner about comfort levels and potential pain. Listen when your opponent taps out, and release the hold promptly to minimise injury risk.

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