The Imanari Roll Technique Breakdown

There are many ways in which you can destroy your opponent’s legs in a BJJ bout. There are variations of leg locks, heel hooks, knee rips, banana splits – you name it. One of these moves is illegal inside of many BJJ organizations – and it’s the heel hook. The heel hook, if done right, has the potential to literally cripple your opponent, causing fractures on multiple parts of their leg. There are many positions through which you can get to the heel hook, including the 50/50. But if there is one lighting fast move that can bring your opponent’s heel on a silver platter – it is the Imanari Roll.

Origin and Name of Immanari Roll

The exact origin of this move is not known but the name of the move comes from the infamous Japanese leg locker Masakazu Imanari, who has developed a reputation as a leg-crippler. He gained a nickname  “Ashikan Judan” which means “The Great Master of Leg Submissions”. Masakazu Imanari developed a specific fighting style which brought him 11 wins by heel hook. In recent years BJJ black belt Ryan Hall returned this move to the mainstream MMA. It all started in  UFC reality show The Ultimate Fighter, where Hall used this technique with success.

The Execution of the Imanari Roll

You use this move by rolling down on your shoulders and taking your opponent’s legs out of the game. If you see this move in action, then you will see how deadly it looks – like a snake curling around your opponent’s leg. This move will take your opponent down immediately, and the best thing about it is that it gives a direct route to your opponent’s leg. Many BJJ practitioners feel like they can’t really get to the legs that easily – if leg locks are the name of their game. However, if you put in the practice into this move, you will get direct access to your opponent’s legs. For a visual demonstration of this move, we suggest that you check out the  video at :

It shows the master at work, and you can see how effective this move can be in a real fight.We mentioned that you will be able to get heel hooks from this move – but this is not the whole truth. The fact is that your opponent will most likely start to panic after he sees that you’re about to break off his heel. But in this way, he will inadvertently place himself in an even worse position – he will leave his knee in a vulnerable position and you will be able to do a powerful kneebar. Another move that you can make with the Imanari Roll depending on how your opponent will defend, is the toehold – another very effective and potentially devastating move.


The Imanari Roll is a complex technique and it takes a long time before you will be able to say that you have mastered this move. The nature of this move is that it has to be extremely precise and very fast for it to work. You will have to drill it incessantly for a long time before you’ll learn the exact timing of when to do it.

If you can do it at the right time and in the right way – it can be a devastating, fight-ending move. If you do it at the wrong moment or in the wrong way – then you may end up in a positional disadvantage – or even worse – you very well may even get knocked out.