Friday, July 30, 2010

Helpful handful; judo chokes

Between yellow and green belt in judo we start to integrate choking techniques into our game for most adults.  Following is a handful of helpful hints for making the most out of this set of techniques.
  • Safety - Technical blood chokes (unlike crushing strangles) are generally considered safe, but for an additional measure of safety, we try to follow these guidelines... Don't practice chokes on children under 13 or people with history of heart or cardiovascular problems.  When practicing chokes on people over 50 years of age, position the choke but don't clamp down on it (uke tap before tori clamps it).  Try to refrain from choking on both sides of the neck during one practice, and try to refrain from practicing chokes in every class.  If you don't want chokes done on you, let your instructor and your partners know ahead of time.
  • Target - The carotid sinus (the target of most choking attempts) is located at the corner of the jaw slightly above the level of the Adam's apple, underneath the SCM muscle that runs from your ear to your collarbone.  Depending on the position of uke's head, you may have to push this band of muscle out of the way to get to the artery underneath.
  • Position then anchor - On most chokes, you position the choking surface of your hand or forearm directly on one carotid sinus, then grab whatever is at hand to anchor your hand there.  Go in that order - position then anchor.  Don't grab a handful of collar and then try to find the right position because you will nearly always end up out of position and have to use much more force over a longer period of time.
  • One artery is sufficient - Because you are pressing the carotid sinus to cause a reflex knockout, you don't have to clamp both carotids to get an effect.  In fact, pushing into a carotid sinus can cause a much faster, much lower-force knockout than squeezing both carotids.  The carotids are not the only arteries carrying blood to the head, so you can't cut off all bloodflow anyway.
  • Position, choke, armbar - Having a controlling position is usually pre-requisite to making an effective choking attempt.  It is almost impossible to choke uke when you are between his legs because he is controlling your hips.  When uke begins using his hands to resist a choking attempt, he often gets himself into an armbar.  So, the flow of groundwork often goes from position to choke to armbar.
For goodness sake, have some sense and don't practice this stuff without an experienced instructor on hand!
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