WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura: Anato

WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura: Anatomy of the Kinshasa


WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura: Anato

WWE is home to some of the most unique superstars in wrestling and all sports. Out of the whole roster, no one is more idiosyncratic than The Artist Known As Shinsuke Nakamura.

His Michael Jackson-esque movements and hypersonic kicks are equally unorthodox and lethal. The centrepiece of it all is the Kinshasa, a running knee strike to the head.

It looks simple but there’s more behind just a KNEE… TO… FACE! The story begins before WWE, 30 years before Shinsuke even began wrestling.

What is Strong Style?

To explain the Kinshasa, one must explain the meaning of Strong Style. After all, Shinsuke Nakamura is widely known as “The King Of Strong Style”.

This form of pro wrestling was innovated by Antonio Inoki upon starting his New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion in 1972. Strong Style fuses classic technical wrestling and martial arts techniques with an emotional edge.

NJPW is not the only catalyst for the Kinshasa. Inoki is also famous for his 1976 exhibition fight with boxer Muhammad Ali.

It is the first mixed martial arts match as well as an influence on Strong Style wrestling. Following the fight, Inoki and Ali became good friends, with Inoki adopting Ali’s catchphrase “boma ye”. In Lingala, it translates to “kill him”.

Remember that phrase; “Boma Ye”, as it permeates the whole story.

Knee to Face

29 August, 2002, a 22-year-old Shinsuke Nakamura emerges from the Inoki Dojo as New Japan Pro Wrestling’s most impressive prospect, their “Super Rookie”.

What makes his early career so intriguing is that he juggled both wrestling and mixed martial arts, being a nimble and tough fighter in each.

The greatest challenge of Nakamura’s MMA run was Alexey Ignashov, a kickboxer from Belarus. A young and nervous Shinsuke couldn’t control his anxious shakes, couldn’t focus. He panicked and went for a tackle.

Alexey reversed it with a knee strike to Shinsuke’s face, the first Kinshasa (at 15:59 in the video below) .

His nose was broken and bloody, ending the match by referee stoppage. After healing the injury, he returned to avenge his no-contest to Ignashov before hanging up his MMA gloves for good.


At the turn of the century, New Japan was not like any other wrestling show. Antonio Inoki brought his company into a dark age fueled by the ageing fighter being blood-drunk on nostalgia.

Many of the matches had wrestlers fighting mixed martial artists, leaving many of Shinsuke’s mentors and friends in injured shambles.

The martial artists knew of Nakamura’s Achilles Heel, the knee strike that Alexey Ignashov first gave him. Still, he was lucky enough to adapt as a legitimate fighter, but the survivor’s guilt stuck with him.

An Artist Born From Vengeance

In 2009, Shinsuke shaved the sides of his head and started wearing red and black leather, resembling

The Artist we know today. There was a change in attitude, a rougher style, and movements that embraced his nervous twitches.

His finisher The Landslide, a modified Attitude Adjustment, was replaced by a running knee strike to the face. The brutal kick helped him become undefeated in New Japan’s G1 Climax tournament and win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Nakamura then called out NJPW founder Antonio Inoki. He expressed his desire to revive Strong Style. His finishing knee strike was now called the Boma Ye as a way to appropriate Inoki’s catchphrase against him.

Out with the Super Rookie, in with The King Of Strong Style!

Finally, The Kinshasa

Shinsuke Nakamura’s movement changed the face of NJPW, bringing it back to a true wrestling promotion similar to that of WWE’s NXT.

His meteoric rise as one of the most popular wrestlers in the world piqued the interest of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon.

In Nakamura’s re-debut, he defeated Sami Zayn with the knee strike, which Corey Graves called the Kinshasa as a reference to the city where Muhammad Ali’s catchphrase “boma ye” was coined.

Physics Of The Kinshasa

Shinsuke Nakamura weighs 104 kg and runs at 24 kilometers per hour. Given that he puts all of his weight into his knee, the Kinshasa generates 0.19 Netwons of force. Putting it in perspective, that is equivalent to 20 pro cricket players swinging their bats at someone’s face at once. Ouch!

Catch the Artist Known As Shinsuke Nakamura and possibly his Kinshasa at WWE Backlash on Sunday 6 May, as he takes on AJ Styles for the WWE Championship.