Masakazu Imanari: You May Not Know Him, But You Certainly Know His Roll

Masakazu Imanari
Photo/Youtube: BJJLibrary

Many do not know who Masakazu Imanari is, but his signature move the “Imanari Roll” has become a fan favorite in the world of competitive grappling.  The spinning heel hook entry is relatively low risk and high reward, and it looks amazing on a highlight reel.

I had an opportunity to chat with Imanari about how and why he developed this move, and what the future holds for this fixture of our sport.

Here’s a highlight of Imanari’s amazing techniques:

I’m not good at wrestling. So when I do Imanari roll I don’t have to wrestle.  I think I first used the Imanari roll from 1998 or 1999. But I don’t remember exactly…

The Imanari roll consists of essentially failing to enter a wrestling shot and instead rolling through, catching the opponent’s leg and entangling it in the process.  Watching an Imanari roll closely, its roots in bad wrestling are clear!

I was interested to learn about Imanari’s feelings on his move becoming more popular as of late

It’s very strange.  In Japan nobody likes the Imanari roll but now many people are using it. I’m so glad to see it!  I have plans to go Europe this summer for seminars.

In regards to the taboo nature of twisting leg locks in jiu-jitsu, Imanari had a diplomatic response

I don’t know. That’s the jiu-jitsu now, right? But I want to use heel hooks in jiu-itsu.

Here’s a video of Imanari teaching some details on his technique.

Apart from his seminar tour, Imanari has plans to compete more as well as build up his academy in Japan, giving the next generation of grapplers access to his highly entertaining and effective set of techniques.

I will compete on the Polaris preliminary card this summer after the European seminars.  I just started my own dojo Imanari Jiu jitsu. Please come join. And if you visit Japan come train with me. Oss!

You can follow Imanari’s academy at this Facebook page


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Emil Fischer is an active black belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio ( and teaching at Ararat Martial Arts and FItness Center. For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at and Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, North Coast Cryo ( NottaRookie, YM ( discount code COOKIES), Defense Soap ( discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards ( discount code EMILIMPACT), and North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear


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