How to Choke Hold

Three Parts:Emphasizing SafetyExecuting a ChokeholdResuscitating Your Opponent

Originating in Judo and used in martial arts, self defense, the military, and law enforcement, the chokehold is a strategic way to prevent air or blood flow in your opponent's neck, which can cause choking or strangling. Whether you are practicing to use in more sport like settings or for your own self defense, the chokehold is a way to use leverage against your opponent and place them in a position that is difficult to break from. Although there are different types of choke holds, the "air choke" or "blood choke" are commonly thought of as the classic chokehold. [1]

Part 1
Emphasizing Safety

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    Learn from an instructor. As you begin learning the chokehold, have a qualified instructor supervise and teach you the movements. Judo instructors, specifically, have extensive experience and background on the chokehold and because holds are potentially fatal, they should be treated seriously. [2]
    • When executed correctly, a chokehold should render your opponent unconscious, but not cause any injury or significant pain.
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    Understand when to let go. Because choke-holds can be dangerous, it's important that as you practice them, you are able to recognize when your opponent begins to lose consciousness. When this happens, it is good to immediately release pressure so your opponent can regain consciousness.
    • If your opponent begins tapping you or has obviously surrendered and submitted to defeat, let them go. Especially in practice, you don't want to continue applying pressure to your opponent when they have decided to let you win.
    • You will be able to tell your opponent is beginning to lose consciousness by a generally limp feeling in the body, sudden lack of resistance, changing color of your opponent's face, or eyes closing.[3]
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    Be careful not to execute a choke at full force during training. When a choke is executed correctly, it can render your opponent unconscious in as little as 8 to 13 seconds. As you practice and train, a good rule is to only hold a choke for 5 seconds. [4]
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    Practice on someone healthy or able-bodied. The chokehold is a safe way to subdue someone, but when applying to older people, very young children, or those who suffer from cardiac disorders or hypertension it can cause more fatal damage. Use common sense here when practicing.[5]

Part 2
Executing a Chokehold

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    Begin from the ground. As training begins, your opponent will not be able to remain standing if you perform a standing chokehold, so it's good to start practicing from the ground. This will prevent injury caused from falling to the ground and will also give you better control.[6]
    • Stabilizing your position will also increase your ability to use your entire body.
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    Stand or kneel behind your opponent. This will give you the best leverage and will leave your opponent in a position that is more unstable and thus more difficult to escape. Leading your opponent into a position in which it is hard for them to put up resistance will give you the best control and freedom of action so you will be able to achieve the best choke.[7]
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    Wrap around your opponent's neck. With your dominant arm, reach around your opponent's corresponding shoulder and hook your arm around their neck. The bend of your arm should rest in the middle of their neck, and your fist should rest near your opponent's opposite shoulder. Then, clasp both of your hands together or put your other arm on the back of your opponent's head.
    • Sometimes it's better to wrap your arm around your opponent's weaker side, because it will be harder for them to escape your hold. Use your judgement to determine which side will allow you a better grip.
    • Practice getting an accurate hold with your hands the moment you begin the choke. If you continually release to adjust your position your opponent will have more opportunity to escape.
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    Apply pressure. Using your biceps and forearms, exert pressure on your opponent's neck around the carotid arteries, which are located on the right and left side of the neck.[8] Using excessive force is not necessary, because the choke should depend more on technique and less on strength. If you find yourself having to rely on your strength, then your technique needs improvement.[9]
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    Hold until unconscious. Look for signs like lack of resistance from your opponent, flushed face, or non-movement in the eyes. Once unconscious, release your opponent. They should regain consciousness within 10 to 20 seconds.[10]

Part 3
Resuscitating Your Opponent

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    Lay your opponent flat on the ground. This allows blood to flow naturally back to the brain after you have rendered them unconscious. Placing your opponent on their side and allowing their head to rest in their arm will prevent possible vomiting and will facilitate breathing.[11]
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    Monitor your opponent closely. Pay attention to your opponent's breathing, making sure that their airway is open so breathing can be achieved easily.
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    Administer CPR if necessary. It should take your opponent less than 30 seconds to regain consciousness. After 30 seconds, if your opponent is still not breathing, contact medical authorities and begin CPR while waiting.[12]
    • If untrained in CPR, perform uninterrupted chest compressions of about 100 per minute until medical professionals arrive. Place your opponent on their back and place your palms, overlapping, in the center of their chest. With straight arms use your upper body weight to press down on the chest about two inches, and continue to repeatedly press down until you have performed 100 compressions. [13]
    • If trained, follow the acronym CAB to perform CPR. Do about 30 chest compressions. Then, go on to check the airway. Tilt the person's head back by using one of your palms to tilt the forehead back while you tilt the chin back with your other hand. Place your ear near their mouth and check to see if you can hear or feel breathing. Monitor this for only five to 10 seconds. If he or she is still not breathing, begin "breathing" or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. With the head titled back, place your mouth over theirs, plug their nose with your hand, and give two rescue breaths, lasting each a second long. If they still aren't breathing, continue the cycle of chest compressions, checking the airway, and breathing until paramedics arrive or your opponent has begun breathing normally.[14]
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    Try out traditional resuscitation techniques. Massage the carotid triangle on the neck to manually simulate the carotid sinus or to open up a collapsed artery. You may also try massaging the chest or diaphragm to stimulate breathing.[15]
    • CPR is the preferred technique if your opponent remains unconscious because traditional techniques are considered advanced, but they may be used in special circumstances and with adequate training.


  • When practicing the chokehold, use less leverage so as not to harm your opponent.
  • As with other competitive sports and martial arts, practicing a chokehold can result in serious injury, but it has proven to be among the safest techniques, resulting in few injuries.[16]
  • The chokehold has been banned in many areas of law enforcement, so if you are in the police force, it's best to avoid using this against a victim.[17]

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Categories: Individual Sports