Insect herbivory causes severe damage to plants and threatens the world's food production. During evolutionary adaptation, plants have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to rapidly accumulate a key defense hormone, jasmonate (JA), that triggers plant defense against herbivory. However, little is known about how plants initially activate JA biosynthesis at encounter with herbivory. Here, we uncover that a novel JAV1-JAZ8-WRKY51 (JJW) complex controls JA biosynthesis to defend against insect attack. In healthy plants, the JJW complex represses JA biosynthesis to restrain JA at a low basal level to ensure proper plant growth. When plants are injured by insect attack, injury rapidly triggers calcium influxes to activate calmodulin-dependent phosphorylation of JAV1, which disintegrates JJW complex and activates JA biosynthesis, giving rise to the rapid burst of JA for plant defense. Our findings offer new insights into the highly sophisticated defense systems evolved by plants to defend against herbivory.