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How to Defend Against the Kimura by John Danaher

When you are thinking of who has the greatest minds in jiu-jitsu, John Danaher will be at the top of that list. An intellectual holding a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Columbia University, Danaher veered his knowledge and energy to learning everything about Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

He lead a small grappling team termed the “Danaher Death Squad” to rule the No-gi realm and rack up Gold medals left and right. The biggest achievement coming in the form of Gordon Ryan’s ADCC double gold victory in 2019. 

A few months ago, John Danaher released his instructional on BJJ Fanatics called “New Wave Jiu-Jitsu, A New Philosophy of Submission Escapes”. Danaher puts an emphasis on conceptualizing escapes rather than just teaching moves, which is the core of all of his teaching. 

The video below is a sneak peek on his conceptual teaching and what to expect from his instructional:

In this clip, John danaher explains his thoughts on the process of the kimura

“Every Kimura is a kind of set of sequences, where each step of the sequence becomes more and more threatening to you, until you end up in situations where your hand is behind your back, your head is completely controlled, he has got a figure four, and….its done”

In the article below, we will summarize Danaher’s basic first-line defenses against the kimura from any position.

First Line of Defend against the Kimura

John Danaher explains that the first step in that layered approach to get the Kimura is the wrists. When going for a kimura, the first thing you have to do is seize control of your opponents wrists. Preventing your opponent from controlling your wrists will ensure that he cant take the necessary steps to go on with the sequence. 

The key to stopping the initial wrist control is to identify the weak direction and go towards that direction. The opponent only has so much control when they first grab your wrist, so addressing this immediately is an easy way to avoid getting caught in a deeper kimura lock.

Below are four positions where you can break wrist control relatively easy:

Closed Guard

  • Pull in towards the stomach until the opponent lets go of your wrist then pull your arm out completely. 

Side Mount

  • Use your legs to peel of the wrist as soon as your opponent grabs your wrist.

Note: This may not work if your opponent locks in the figure four before you get to peel off the wrist.


  • When you feel the opponent grab the kimura while your get his back, grab his opposite write and peel it off before pulling your arm out altogether. 

North South

  • Use rotation and turn the opposite direction to expose the wrists before peeling it off and getting your arm away from any kind of danger. 

Ariston Palacios

Ariston is a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and instructor under Carpe Diem BJJ. He is also a Coach at two UFC Gyms in his home country. Discovering BJJ at the age of 18, his passion for the sport usually ends up with most of his time doing all things BJJ related from training, teaching and writing articles. On occasion, you can catch a glimpse of him at a local competition to test his mettle, but you will usually see him sharing his knowledge and passion of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to clients of all ages wherever a mat can be found.