Choking techniques must be taught and supervised by a qualified instructor. Since Judo has always taught choking techniques and they are used in tournaments, Judo instructors have experience in the proper application of chokes. But other martial arts are now teaching choke holds without the wealth of background and experience most Judo experts have. As taught in Judo, they are a temporary incapacitating techniques of short duration whose proper execution should is harmless, but without proper instruction, chokes can be potentially fatal and should be treated seriously.
- Be familiar with the anatomical structures of the neck and where the pressure is to be applied (carotid triangle).
- Know the physiology of choking, that only a small amount of pressure is needed to cause unconsciousness.
- Be able to recognize immediately the state of unconsciousness and to immediately release the pressure.
- Know proper resuscitation methods if unconsciousness is prolonged.
Care should be taken when teaching chokes to children whose physiology is different and naturally less developed than adults. In Judo tournaments in the United States, chokes are not permitted for children under 13 years old although children approaching this age may be prepared for chokes by learning basic chokes with escapes and defenses. The emphasis should be on recognizing the effect of chokes and protecting yourself while always avoiding extreme pressure and unconsciousness in practice.
Chokes may be practiced from either a standing position or on the ground but the ground is inherently safer. When applying a standing choke with the intention of gaining the full effect you should recognize that the victim will not be able to remain standing. In competition and practice, the person being choked should always be immediately taken to the ground for better control and to prevent an accidental fall which could injure the athlete if they become unconscious.
Learning when to give up is an important part of training to avoid the risk of unnecessary periods of unconsciousness. While training to escape from a choke, students must also be trained to surrender when necessary by recognizing when defeat is inevitable or when further resistance will result in unconsciousness. Since it is virtually impossible to speak while being choked, the universal signal for submission is tapping of the opponent or mat repeatedly.
The most important safety rule when applying a choking technique is to release pressure immediately when the opponent submits or passes out. Loss of consciousness can be detected easily by the sudden lack of resistance and generally limp feeling of the opponent's body as well as the color of the face and the eyes closing.
Koiwai, E. K. (1999). How Safe is Choking in Judo?
Ohlenkamp, Neil. (1995). Principles of Judo Choking Techniques. [Online]. Available: http://Judoinfo.com/chokes.htm [2004, December 31 ]. Used with permission.