There are five types of chokes: air, blood, crank, compression, and hybrid.
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.
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.
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.
Chokes which compress the lungs to the point where air cannot be taken in. Examples include the body triangle and the Bas Rutten body crush. Compression chokes may also lead to rib breakage. Note that compression chokes may not be legal under all rulesets.
Chokes that combine two or more of the mechanics above. Note that in many cases, chokes with several choking mechanics are more effective than those with single mechanics, so it’s in your best interest to figure out ways to turn your chokes into hybrid chokes. For example, a blood choke with a crank component is more effective than a blood choke alone.
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.