Choking Mechanics

There are three types of chokes: air chokes, blood chokes, and cranks.

#1: Air Chokes.

Chokes that apply compression to the trachea, also known as the windpipe. Compressing the windpipe denies your opponent the ability to breathe. Air chokes can also be modified to stimulate the gag reflex, which causes a sensation similar to that of a blood choke.

#2: Blood Chokes.

Chokes that apply compression to the carotid arteries, which run along each side of the neck. Compressing the carotid arteries halts blood circulation to the brain, resulting in loss of consciousness. Due to the speed with which blood chokes can take effect, they are often considered more efficient than air chokes. The majority of common chokes in Jiu-Jitsu are blood chokes.

The goal of every blood choke is the same: apply pressure to each carotid artery on the sides of the neck, and use a wedge to push the back of the head down into the choke. Visualize this as a triangle around your opponent’s head, with a point of the triangle under the chin. Your job is to put pressure on each “side” of the triangle while pushing the top of the triangle down.

#3: Cranks.

Holds that apply torque to the neck and spine. This can be done by pushing your opponent’s jaw into their skull, or twisting the neck and accessing the jaw as a lever. You don’t need to get under the chin to achieve a neck crank.

Cranks can result in serious injury and are not recommended in training due to the risks involved. Cranks are illegal in many tournaments.

Best practices for all chokes:

The common control concept in all chokes is the necessity of breaking your opponent’s posture. This perfectly falls in line with the concept of breaking your opponent’s alignment before attacking with a submission.

Breaking your opponent’s posture during choke attempts will improve efficiency and greatly improve your chances of finishing the choke. If you are having difficulty securing or finishing a choke, consider whether you have properly broken your opponent’s structure first.