Heel hooks, leg locks and toe holds. Oh my!
For as long as I can remember being interested in jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts, Imanari has been one of my favourite fighters with a style like no other. Coined as ‘Kamikaze jiu-jitsu’ his grappling is incredible to watch, high risk high reward. You only have to YouTube any of his fights to see where the name comes from. It’s safe to say if you let him anywhere near your legs in a fight you better have brought a pair of crutches.
Imanari is a quiet man, his reputation precedes him and you can tell just by looking around the mats that everyone has the utmost respect for him and his abilities. Everybody here knows who he is, we are all here to try and take away some of the secrets that help make him one of the best in the game when it comes to leg attacks.
There are roughly 40 likeminded grapplers in the gym, true mat rats, eager to absorb some of this legends knowledge. We kick off with one of Imanari’s warm up drills rolling from leg to leg with our partners; later to learn how many different attacks Imanari can throw out of this movement is bewildering. For the first few minutes there is a seed of doubt and I think ‘shit what am I doing here’ but after a few failed attempts and chuckles I started to settle into the techniques. Looking round the room it’s reassuring to see grapplers at various levels having fun trying out the new techniques, many of which none of us have ever used before.
Imanari takes special care to get round everyone, allowing a good amount of time for us to absorb the techniques. He’s a man of a few words, I suspect he doesn’t speak much English, but jiu-jitsu is a universal language and it’s great to see that even with few words he can get his teaching across to us with ease. Throughout the 2 hours we cover knee bars, heel hooks, toeholds and ankle locks, some come naturally but some will need a lot more work to get technique just right.
It was a huge eye opener just how many submissions there are from 50/50 guard, by the end of the seminar the room is filled with good vibes with guys who travelled from up and down the country to make the most of this opportunity.
For me, that’s one more jiu-jitsu experience checked of my bucket list, with many more to look forward to, very grateful to have learned direct from Imanari. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to showcase what I’ve taken from this incredible session next time I compete.
A special thanks to Ronnie Mann of Iron Man MMA in Evesham, England for hosting, Scramble jiu-jitsu/mma clothing and apparel for helping set up the seminar and of course to Imanari himself, it was an absolute honour to be part of and I hope to train with you again along my travels.
-Mark ‘Techno Viking’