How to Use Chokes for Self-Defense
The Power of Chokes and When to Use Them
Whenever practicing, training, or real-life execution of self-defense in which the scenario is a defense against a single attacker, and you are 100% confident that the attacker does not have a weapon, the submissions of choice are chokes.
It is paramount that you understand that we are speaking of the correct scenario as Kubishime (chokes) are terrible if you’re in a Ran Dori – multiple attacker scenario, or an armed attacker scenario. Now that we’ve clarified this vital point, let’s discuss the power of Kubishime.
What Makes Chokes a Top Choice?
Yes, it may seem contrary to the Jujutsu leg locking trend of today with the rise of sport jiu-jitsu, but bear with me. One major reason why chokes are on the top of the pile in terms of submissions that are often overlooked is, positioning.
Most chokes, or at least those that work, are done from very dominant positions. The side mount, and guard positions in Ne Waza, and the back or front headlock positions in Tachi Waza are amazing controlling positions that offer a huge variety of chokes. Furthermore, another reason why chokes are optimal is safety. Executing a rear-naked choke poses absolutely no threat to you while giving you total control and high efficiency over Uke/Tori.
How Lethal Can a Choke Be?
When talking about the potentially most devastating submissions in grappling martial arts, people tend to overlook chokes. Yes, a kneebar, armbar, or breaking of the neck might seem to be more horrible than just putting someone to sleep, but the truth is very different. When you cut off the flow of blood to the brain the body goes straight into panic mode. The reason is that it is trying to protect its most vital asset – the brain.
Now imagine that you’re just sticking with a choke for a couple of minutes. That’s a couple of minutes too long for the brain to be deprived of oxygen. The result is inevitable brain damage and certain death if a choke is kept long enough. As peaceful as it may seem, a choke is the most lethal weapon in a Budoka’s arsenal.
Why Chokes are Great for Self-Defense?
When it comes to hand-to-hand combat chokes are the best way to finish a particularly strong an tenacious opponent in the right circumstances. Some people have freakish flexibility and simply refuse to tap to joint locks on the arms or legs until they finally snap, this can take longer than 8 seconds, however. The brain can only survive 8 seconds without a fresh blood supply.
Think about that for just a moment.
In that sense, no neck flexibility is going to get you out of a choke. Neck strength is also not a factor, given that positioning and choke mechanics are in order. In terms of slipping out, it is a possibility with chokes, but to a far lesser extent than with joint locks. Chokes are also a technique that doesn’t only work in a flash but can also be applied over a longer period. That way you get both complete control and submission that slowly clamps around your opponent if using in a restraining type of capacity.
We really only have two types of Shime that we focus on in Bushin Ryu. The one we’re covering here is commonly known as:
The Rear Naked Choke
This choke has been popularized as the: Rear Naked Choke. We call this specifically Kubishime (from the rear) versus just Shime which represents a choke from the front.
Kubishime is the staple of the chokes, it’s the proverbial king of chokes; the rear-naked choke is by far the highest percentage choke in the system. It is only fitting that the king of submissions is done by the king of positions – back control or in Japanese ‘Shikaku’ meaning literally “Death Angle” or “Death Position”.
The rear-naked choke is the choke you see in movies that instantly puts people to sleep. While it is effective please bear in mind that things do not work like that in real life, especially against a resisting opponent.
What Makes the Rear Naked Choke Work?
You need to be in a perfect Shikaku (back position) in order to get a rear-naked choke seated to perfection. Within Tachi Waza (standing) you need to pull the Uke/Tori’s weight to their heels.
It’s VERY important to control their center of gravity, in essence hanging them similar to that of a noose hanging a person from a tree. The main control points in Ne Waza (on the ground) are having two hooks that control the opponent’s hips. The next thing to consider is your head. It has to be over the opponent’s shoulder and next to their ear as much as possible.
There are numerous ways in which you can thread the arms through. As far as mechanics go, your forearm should be on one side of your opponent’s neck, and your upper arm on the other. The rule of thumb is having your elbow right below their chin. From there, it’s all about staying tight, squeezing, and pulling back.
Remember, tight makes right!
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