Brock Lesnar: Understanding the Kimura Lock

This submission hold is a staple of MMA fighters and many different martial arts disciplines.

Tonight on Raw, we saw Brock Lesnar use this lock against Shawn Michaels. Shawn was writhing in pain after a very dramatic movement of his arm. Shawn was selling the fact his arm was broken. I assure you that his arm is fine. Pro wrestling is all about the illusion of reality.

With that said, if Brock had applied full pressure to the hold, Shawn would have a serious arm injury.

We are going to examine which parts of the arm can be injured when this submission hold is applied with full force.

The Application of the Hold

The Kimura Arm Lock, is all about gaining control of your opponent’s arm.

The application of the hold is relatively simple to do.

You begin by wrapping an arm around the arm of your opponent. You will then grab your own wrist on your other arm. With your free hand, you grab the wrist of your opponent. This is essentially a figure-four, but instead of the legs, it is on an arm.

Now that you have full control of your opponent’s arm, you can pull his arm toward you. This movement will drive the face of your opponent into the ground and will allow you to rotate your opponents arm counterclockwise.

Depending on how you have your arms positioned, your opponent’s elbow will either be bent or straight.

The position of the elbow determines which part of the arm the pressure is on.

Anatomy of the Hold, Elbow Bent

With the elbow bent, the focal point of the pressure is on the shoulder. Because the hold pushes the arm behind the opponent’s back, we are looking at the shoulder from the posterior view.

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the human body.

The main bones of the joint are the humerus bone and the shoulder blade. Through a series of ligaments and tendons, these two bones work in conjunction to give us the mobility of the joint.

Even though the shoulder is the most mobile joint, it does have its limits. The backward motion of the arm is the most limited direction that the shoulder can move in.

Anatomy of the Hold, Elbow Straight

With the elbow straight, the majority of the pressure is on the elbow itself.

The elbow is made up of three bones: the humerus, the ulna, and the radius.

The elbow joint not as mobile as the shoulder joint. The way the bones of this joint connect with each other only allows the elbow to bend in one direction.

When the elbow is straight when the Kimura is locked in, the elbow receives more pressure than the shoulder.

If you don’t believe me about the pressure, I ask you to do the following experiment.
Stand up and bend your arm at 90 degrees. While in that position, push your arm behind you as far as it can go. You will feel the pressure in your shoulder. Now with your arm in the same position, straighten your arm out and continue to push your arm backwards. You will notice the pressure is significantly less in your shoulder, and is now in your elbow.

When Full Pressure Is Applied, Elbow Bent

We already established that with the elbow bent, the majority of the pressure of this hold is on the shoulder joint.

Because the shoulder is not very mobile in the backwards direction, this move can do a great deal of damage to an opponent.

When full pressure is applied, the opponent’s shoulder will begin to be torn at the ligaments. Once the ligaments are torn, there is nothing else that can keep the humerus in the proper position.

The opponent’s shoulder will become dislocated.

For an injury of this magnitude, the person will need surgery. The full recovery process could be anywhere from three to six months.

When Full Pressure Is Applied, Elbow Straight

When full pressure is applied, and the elbow is straight, an elbow dislocation is likely to occur

The ulna has a notch in it, and that notch is where the humerus fits into place. This notch works like a lever pushing the humerus out of socket when a person is pulling the elbow against the normal direction of movement.

If dislocation does not occur, the bones of the forearm will be under a high amount of pressure. This pressure can result in the breaking of one or both of these bones.

The Kimura Arm Lock is a very devastating hold. No matter which way the opponent’s arm is positioned, it doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to the amount of pain and injury the opponent will experience assuming the applier uses his full strength behind the hold.

The Kimura is a great hold to use in wrestling, especially with the elbow bent. The person in the hold is very safe, and the person applying the hold can manipulate the arm so that it looks like a breaking motion is occurring. As I said earlier, pro wrestling is all about the illusion. Abracadabra.

Louie Babcock has over six years experience working in emergency medicine, and is studying biology and health science at the University of Minnesota.