Even if you’re a world class striker, with knockout power in both hands, I would still argue that it’s absolutely critical to also master a few reliable chokes from different positions!
A properly applied choke can render even a big guy unconscious in about 10 seconds – it’s that powerful.
And, contrary to what you might think, a choke is actually much safer than a left hook, right cross, flying knee to the face or simply beating them into oblivion.
That’s because the odds of him falling, fracturing his skull on the pavement and dying are much less after a choke than the big Sunday punch (people can and have gone to jail for many years after such a pavement-induced fatality).
Every situation is different, so yes, you need to know how to knock someone out, but you also need to know how to make them unconscious in a less violent manner.
And that’s where chokes come in.
There are TWO general kinds of chokes: blood chokes and air chokes. But they’re not created equal. One style of choking is much faster, more powerful, and – paradoxically – also safer for your opponent.
Let’s take a look at both types of chokes…
1) Blood Chokes
A ‘blood choke’ (referred to as a ‘strangle’ by some people) is the gold standard for chokes.
In a blood choke you attack the sides of the neck!
This pressure on the side of the neck compresses the arteries and veins that circulate blood to and from the brain, causing your target to black out.
Properly applied a blood choke can knock someone out in about 10 seconds, and sometimes even less. This is usually a relatively painless procedure, so when adrenaline is flowing your opponent may not even realise that he’s been fully checkmated until it’s too late and he slumps unconscious.
Classic blood chokes include the properly applied rear naked choke (2nd picture above), the front naked choke (3rd picture), most triangle chokes and many collar chokes.
The good news from both a legal and training partner point of view is it’s a reasonably safe choke — at least compared to knocking someone out with a punch — and assuming you release it in time and don’t leave your opponent lying flat on his back where he could choke on his tongue.
Once you release the choke the other guy almost always wakes back up again, not too much worse for the wear. By which time hopefully you have made your escape and are long gone.
2) Air Chokes
‘Air chokes’ are more painful, more dangerous, and take longer to render your opponent unconscious.
In an air choke you attack the front of the neck, applying pressure to the relatively delicate trachea area.
The pressure to the front of the throat makes it impossible to breath, which will eventually result in him becoming unconscious.
Air chokes are also usually much more painful that the blood choke variety, so they cause a training partner to tap out really fast in a sparring situation.
But in a real fight, when people’s pain tolerances are through the roof, air chokes take longer than blood chokes to knock someone out. After all, most people can hold their breath for at least 30 to 60 seconds before they go unconscious.
The big danger of an air choke is that you’re applying a ton of pressure to the larynx and trachea (the voicebox and windpipe) at the front of the throat. A crushed trachea is a life threatening emergency requiring the implantation of a surgical airway or other grisly procedures where a doctor punches a hole through the front of the throat.
Both styles of choke definitely work. But given the potential legal implications of an air choke gone bad I would definitely go for a blood choke in a self defense situation given the choice.
Try out both kinds of choke, and then, should you ever use an arm drag to get to someone’s back and choke them out you can make an intelligent decision about how exactly you’re going to choke them out!!!