Chokes are really dangerous, and easy.
In Judo practice there are three basic ways of choking or strangling an opponent, as well as some combinations of the three:
- Compression of the carotid arteries on one or both sides of the neck restricting the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
- Compression of the windpipe (trachea) stopping or reducing the flow of air to the lungs.
- Compression of the chest and lungs preventing the opponent from inhaling (often used during pinning techniques).
All of these methods should be practiced and are useful for various situations. However the first choking method (strangulation) is stressed in Judo and is the most commonly taught in Judo classes around the world. Compression of the carotid arteries is desirable because it requires the least force, is the quickest acting of the choking techniques, is the most universally effective against all opponents, and it is most in keeping with the efficiency principle of Judo, "maximum effect with minimum effort." Medical tests have established that the amount of pressure needed to occlude the arteries is six times less than the pressure needed to collapse the airway. Directly stopping the blood supply to the brain also results in loss of consciousness about six times faster than indirectly reducing oxygen in the brain through restricting breathing or the flow of air to the lungs.
Carotid strangulations are also safer and involve less pain than the other choking methods making them easier to practice and to acquire sufficient skill to be confident in their use. Besides making them more effective, this makes them more compatible with another principle of Judo, "mutual welfare and benefit." A skillfully executed technique will give the Judo student the ability to produce unconsciousness or submission with little pain or forewarning to the person receiving the technique.
A good strangulation hold should render the opponent unconsciousness without injury or significant pain in a matter of seconds regardless of whom the opponent is. The most basic requirements for applying such an effective strangulation are:
- Make sure your own body always has complete freedom of action so that you are in the best position for the technique you intend to use and you are flexible enough to be able to respond to your opponent's attempts to escape. Your position should be stable so that in applying the technique you can use your entire body.
- Lead your opponent into a position in which it is most difficult to put up resistance, and control all of his or her actions. Your opponent must be unstable and under your control as much as possible. Very often this means stretching out your opponent's body backwards.
- Train your hands to get an accurate hold the minute you begin a technique, make your choke work in a very brief time, and once you begin the pressure refrain from continually releasing to adjust your position. Your techniques will have much greater effect if you are firmly resolved not to let your opponent get away but to continue until the end without slackening. Constancy of pressure, rather than extreme force, is what is called for. Excessive reliance on strength would indicate a defect in the technique since very little pressure is needed to compress an artery and render a person unconscious.
Fig 1: Anterior triangle of the neck (front view)PHYSIOLOGY OF CHOKING
Fig 2: The forearm applies pressure to the left superior carotid triangle. A top view of the head is shown with the back of the head furthest from the forearm.