Gone are the days when climbing was considered a “guy’s sport”. Today, there are women who have achieved, if not surpassed, their male colleagues when it comes to climbing.

Of these women, one of the most prominent names is Jain Kim. But who is she, and what successes can we attribute to her name?

Let’s find out!

Who is Jain Kim?

Jain Kim is one of the most successful female climbers in history, with many World Cup victories to her name.  A professional rock climber from South Korea, Kim is one of the most successful climbers in the world.

She has been training and climbing since she was 12 years old and started competing worldwide when she was 15 years old.

As with many top-level athletes, Kim’s passion for climbing has familial roots. Her whole family enjoys sport climbing. Her brother, Kim Ja-bi, worked as a climbing coach in the movie “Exit” where he taught actors Jo Jung-Seok and Jo Yoona correct climbing techniques. 

Jain Kim’s Rock Climbing Career

Jain Kim’s climbing career is known worldwide, particularly in lead climbing and bouldering. Any rock climber worth their salt is familiar with her achievements! 

Kim began training at the age of 12. After three years of extensive practice, she was invited to compete in the Lead Climbing Worldcup in 2004. While she did not win the Worldcup series, she managed to snag the championship in the Asian leg. She also won the Lead Climbing Asian Championship in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010. She also took home the bouldering Asian Championship title in 2008.

Kim finally won her first Lead Climbing Worldcup in 2010, as well as the Combined Climbing Worldcup in the same year. She has also won the champion spot in the 2013 and 2014 Lead Climbing Worldcup, as well as the 2015 Combined Climbing Worldcup. 

Among her other wins, she finished third in the Rock Master and second in the World Games in 2009.

At present, Kim is currently ranked #2 in Women Lead Sports Climbing by the International Federation of Sports Climbing. 

Jain’s Hallmark

Jain Kim's climbing style focuses on four critical aspects: the hooks, her balanced positioning, her precise movements during her ascent, and her grip style.

Let’s break these down one by one:

Hooks

Hooks refer to the way a climber uses their feet and heel to anchor themselves on the surface. Kim places her feet slowly and deliberately on the surface holds and compresses her body as she maneuvers from one position to another. 

Balanced Positioning

You might notice that Kim spends a lot of time hanging on one arm while she climbs and creates a hook with her feet. This is to create a balanced triangle that distributes her body weight properly. She also orients her waist to ensure that her center of gravity is in the middle at all times. 

Movements

One of the most striking things about Kim’s climbing style is that she is relatively slower compared to other climbers. Her controlled and precise movements help her map out her route better. However, she is also capable of explosive moments during her climb if necessary. 

Grip 

Finally, Kim’s climbing style relies strongly on her grip. It’s easy to see how much finger and wrist strength she has, given that she hangs on one arm often! She utilizes grips to give her time to adjust her climbing stance and prepare her hooks.

Here’s a video of Kim’s climbing style in action:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QktmTli48iA

If you want to learn more about Kim’s grips, here is a great analysis video from the Bouldering Vlog:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdrAoKZPXxA&t=10s

Will Kim’s Climbing Style Suit You?

As mentioned above, Jain Kim usually does her styles and techniques at a slower pace than others which makes her cautious and more efficient in making her move than others. Her climbing style is also likely due to her weight and height.

Remember, Kim’s weight and height are significantly different from other climbers. Her weight makes it easier to hang on even with one arm, and her height makes it necessary to use her legs for a longer reach.   

If you have the same height and weight as Kim, you may find that her climbing style can benefit you. However, if you’re on the heavier side, hanging on one arm can be tiring and can even lead to shoulder or arm injuries.

If you want to try Kim’s climbing style, it’s best to try a dry run first at a climbing gym to see if it suits your weight, height, and most importantly, climbing techniques. 

Conclusion

It’s not difficult to see why Jain Kim is one of the climbing world’s most exciting figures. Not only does she excel at what she does, but she’s also blazing a path for women who want to try their hand at climbing.

It’s impressive that she was able to create a climbing style that suited her physical attributes, and found ways to overcome limitations that are often hurdles for other climbers.

Learning how to climb like Jain Kim will take a lot of practice and perseverance. Luckily, there are tons of videos on YouTube that can help!

Have fun climbing like a World Champion Lead Climber!  

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