Common choke holds (different from a rear naked choke) are interesting attacks. In most cases the attacker has placed themselves in severe jeopardy and then mistakenly believes they hold the upper hand.
The first thing to realize about choke holds is that your opponent has, in most cases, employed both hands in an attack and has left the remainder of his or her body unguarded. Thank you so much!
In the following discussion we cover different types of choke holds and some common methods you might employ to escape, thwart, or counter these attacks. Again you will find some similar sequences in the various Kuikku Bouei Kata.
Keep in mind that no self-defense method is likely to work in all situations, or even in the situation for which it is intended. There are too many variables to allow you to conclude that any one method of defense will work in a particular situation. The methods below work in some situations but may well need to be modified if your opponent has a different leg forward, outweighs you significantly, or has you pinned against a wall. In those cases and many others you might rely partially on the material below and partially on other conceptual material and additional skills you have learned in the past. Be adaptive and open minded and not reliant on one specific method or approach to dealing with a conflict scenario.
If your opponent is attacking and choking you from the front they almost universally will use two hands in their choking attempt. It is quite difficult (though not impossible) to choke someone with a single hand. As a result both hands are normally employed.
This of course means the attacker has no effective guard in place. The first thing you need to do is check your fear and realize you have a very substantial opportunity. We will learn various ways in which you might exploit your relative good fortune.
Front Choke Escape Actions
- Place your open right hand on the top and to the inside of your opponent’s left elbow and hook his or her elbow with your fingers. Simultaneously place your open left hand on the outside edge of your opponent’s right elbow. Now concurrently pull down and out with your right hand as you press both upward and inward with your left hand. At the same time rotate your center to your right and slightly dip your right shoulder. This sequence of movements should be done briskly and with substantial force. Your opponent will be compelled to release their grip. You must now flee or strike your opponent. This escape can be easily performed in the opposite direction as well.
- Place one open hand on the outside of each of your opponent’s elbows. Immediately press both of your opponent’s elbows inward aggressively. Immediately hook both of your hands over the top of the opponent’s elbows and pull down and outward very abruptly. One or both of these opposing movements will temporarily dislodge your opponent’s hands. You must now strike or immediately flee.
- Drive a very forceful Shotei Uchi up under each of your opponent’s elbows to force their hands up and off of your neck. This will provide you with a momentary reprieve of which you must now take full advantage. It is imperative that you follow this escape with a checking motion or a strike that will preclude the opponent from reestablishing their prior grip. Be prepared to move away from your opponent or to physically harm them.
Front Choke Thwart Actions
- As the opponent’s hands advance toward your neck open both hands and then press upward on one of his or her wrists and downward on the other wrist. Rotate your center away from the opponent’s arms and step back. You must be prepared to escape or to counter attack.
- This is similar to the prior thwarting action, except each of your hands presses down on one of the opponent’s wrists. This may cause your opponent to lower their head and shoulders in reaction to this movement. You must immediately step to the side to avoid a possible forward lunge from the attacker. Push the attacker at the shoulder to create distance between you and then prepare to escape or disable your attacker.
- Step slightly to angle 5 or 7, ensuring you move both feet to move you out of the opponent’s center, and use your open front hand to intercept and redirect your opponent’s nearest arm away from you. Now continue spinning in the same direction as before to move behind and away from your opponent. Run toward angle 5 or 7.
Front Choke Destroy Actions
- In quick succession drive a right and then a left Angled Fist strike into the opponent’s solar plexus. Now drive a Morote Ura Ken Tsuki upward, between the opponent’s arms and into his or her chin. Step toward angle 4 as first your right and then your left hands check your opponent’s nearest arm. Now quickly strike with a Hidari Mae Ashi Mawashi Geri to the opponent’s lower abdomen or groin. You might elect to use your left arm to grasp the opponent’s nearest arm to keep it up to prevent it from interfering with your kick. Return the kick to facilitate a future controlling action or to initiate an escape.
- As the attacker’s hands approach step slightly to angle 5 or 7 in order to move off your opponent’s center line. As you move place your open back hand on the inside of your attacker’s nearest arm and pull briskly inward as you use your front arm to drive a Mae Empi Uchi into the opponent’s nearest elbow. Both of these movements should track generally parallel to the floor. Keeping your front elbow bent, raise it to point to the attackers face and then deliver a Tettsui Uchi directly into the attacker’s face as your opposite hand repositions to check your opponent’s nearest arm. Step back to facilitate an escape or press forward to better control your opponent.
- Raise both arms either inside or outside of your opponent’s two arms. Where you place your arms will depend on whether your opponent has his or her elbows in close together or spread widely apart. Form an Ippon Nukite Uchi with each hand and quickly press this strike into each of your opponent’s eyes. Return these strikes to that they impact the opponent’s arms, driving his or her arms down and to the outside. Now accelerate the rotation of your arms so they circle around and deliver either a Morote Ura Ken Tsuki or Morote Mawashi Tsuki to the attacker’s head. Without returning your strikes, open your hands and press Morote Shotei Uchi down into each of the opponent’s shoulders to push the opponent’s upper torso back. Step back slightly into a Neko Ashi Dachi and then deliver a Mae Ashi Geri into the opponent’s abdomen. Now step forward to further control your opponent or retract your kick to initiate an escape.
These are again almost always dual handed choking attempts in which the opponent uses both hands to encircle your throat from behind. In some cases the attacker may attempt to use their grasp to pull you backward so they can attack a kidney with one of their knees. They may alternately press their forearms into the back of your shoulder to gain additional leverage for the choke. This might also be used to force you down onto the ground while maintaining the choke hold. This can be very dangerous and must be immediately overcome.
Rear chokes are a bit more limiting than front chokes, but there are still plenty of actions we can take to overcome this type of attack. In all cases you will want to initiate your movements quickly and then act quite decisively. You will also always seek to lower your chin and raise your shoulders to limit the amount of pressure the attacker can apply to your throat.
Most of the following actions can and should be practiced on both sides. This is essential so that a movement can be performed even if there is a wall or some other obstruction that might preclude a specific movement as defined below. Executing a movement on the opposite side will often allow you to avoid such an obstruction.
Rear Choke Escape Actions
- Instantly initiate a small step to your local angle 3 with your left leg, allowing your weight to transfer onto this leg. Immediately upon planting the leg use it to spring in the direction of your local angle 4. You will need to move your right leg in the direction of local angle 4. This is done so that the opponent begins to adjust for movement in one direction, which you immediately reverse, making it very hard for them to compensate for this secondary movement. Immediately upon landing on your right foot step with your left leg to angle 7 and raise your guard. Turn toward your right until your right forearm impacts your opponent’s left arm, forcing it away from you.
- Reach up with your right hand and firmly grasp the attacker’s right hand at the wrist. Now lower your shoulders and move your right leg behind your left leg and in the direction of angle 3 to establish a Juji Dachi. Rotate to your right to face angle 4 in a Zenkutsu Dachi as you move your left hand to assist with the grab of the attacker’s right wrist. Twist the attacker’s arm while keeping their elbow pointed downward to throw your attacker to the ground. They will land on their back. Decide whether to escape or to somehow further leverage the hold you maintain on your attacker’s arm.
- Raise your right arm skyward as you step back slightly with your right leg to angle 2. Briskly turn to face your opponent and drop your right hand to apply a Shotei Uchi down and into the attacker’s face. Maintain pressure on the opponent’s face with your right hand as you step to angle 6 with your left leg and apply forward pressure with your left hand to the attacker’s right hip. Your attacker should fall backward in front of you.
Rear Choke Thwart Actions
- As the attack begins bend your knees slightly (to lower your center of gravity thereby affecting the opponent’s structure) and step immediately to angle 7 with your left leg as you raise both hands to guard position. Now continue turning by stepping instantly to your angle 4. Your right forearm should intercept the opponent’s left forearm, causing the opponent to be moved slightly further away. You must ensure that your right elbow remains rigid during this turn so that your opponent is propelled away. Decide if you wish to strike or escape.
- As the opponent’s hands begin to press into your throat quickly raise both hands and, grasping their wrists, jerk his or her hands forward of your shoulders. Now bend your knees deeply and reach back with both hands to grab the opponent’s nearest leg. Place one hand behind the opponent’s heal and the other hand across the front of the opponent’s ankle. Push back with your hips into the opponent’s torso as you quickly lift the opponent’s leg upward. Now spring forward with both legs concurrently while retaining your grip on the attacker’s leg. Use your top hand to prevent the opponent’s leg from striking your groin. As you complete your hop, release the opponent’s leg and then either immediately turn to face them or sprint away. The attacker will likely be on the ground, affording you time to escape or close on your opponent.
- Immediately step forward with one leg to avoid the grab and raise the opposite leg to deliver an Ushiro Geri into the attacker’s abdomen. Return the kicking leg to either initiate your escape or turn back to further encounter your attacker.
Rear Choke Destroy Actions
- Step to local angle 3 with your left leg and then move your right leg in beside your left. Immediately raise your right foot upward and strike with an Age Ushiro Geri to the opponent’s groin. You will strike with the back part of the heel of your right foot. Without returning this leg step in behind your opponent’s right leg and use your shin to press into the back of his or her leg to initiate a leg collapse. Step to local angle 7 with your left leg as you apply additional pressure to the attacker’s right leg. Bend your right knee slightly to force the opponent to fall. Immediately retract your right leg and then use it to deliver a Mae Geri to the attacker’s face.
- Raise your right hand up and behind your back to protect both kidneys as you establish a Kiba Dachi. Instantly bend both knees and pitch your upper torso very far forward. Without hesitation slip your left leg behind your right leg to establish a Juji Dachi. Keeping your chest low and parallel to the floor rotate to your left until your head is facing your opponent. You should be in a very deep Kiba Dachi and still bent forward at the waist. The opponent’s hands should now be twisted in such a way that they can no longer grasp your neck. Rise quickly as you throw alternate left and right hand strikes to the opponent’s thigh, groin, abdomen, solar plexus, chest, throat, and/or face as these targets become available. Try to strike the attacker at least three times as your rise to standing position. Now decide whether it is best to continue the attack or to initiate an escape.
- Step to angle 1 with your left leg as you raise your right arm directly skyward. Rotate to face angle 2 as you drop your right arm outside and over the top of both of your opponent’s arms. Your opponent’s arms will now both be trapped between your arm and your body at your lower right torso. Rotate back slightly to put additional pressure on the assailant’s arms and then employ a Migi Yoko Kekomi Geri to his or her nearest knee. Return your kicking leg by stepping slightly toward angle 4 and use your right arm to deliver a low Ura Ken Tsuki in the direction of angle 4. This is likely to break one or both of the opponent’s arms. Release your grip on the attacker’s arms and either escape in the direction of angle 4 or step to angle 6 with your left leg to gain a positional advantage over your opponent.