Now for the choke. This is always a point of debate for all BJJ students. When they hear “chokes” People get all kinds of crazy ideas. This should answer most of your questions, and give you a leg to stand on in BJJ arguments! Here is what the choke explained:
- Cerebral ischemia: This is when blood flow to the brain is reduced to the point that it temporarily inhibits cognition and or consciousness. Slowing the blood flow manually at the carotid arteries causes unconsciousness in approximately 8-10 seconds. It is 100% reproducible, and safe. The subject regains consciousness in about the same amount of time (8-10 seconds). Cognition, usually takes about 15-20 seconds to return. This of course can be affected by the state of cognition they were in prior to the ischemia. For sober, lucid individuals, it’s about 15-20 seconds. For subjects under the influence, it can take longer. There are many different methods for applying pressure to the Carotid arteries. Some use the arms, others use the legs, and some use the clothing to induce the ischemic effect. For the sake of discussion we will examine the most widely taught method of using an arm wrapped around the neck and assisted by the other hand to apply the pressure to the arteries. In the martial arts it is referred to as the Rear Naked Choke. In law enforcement it is called A Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint, or a Carotid Restraint. It is safe for the applier because it allows them to be behind the subject. It also allows one to hold the subject immobile while applying the technique, allowing for more safety to the applier and the subject. A smaller person can apply this technique to any size subject regardless of differences in stature. The most common objections to the use of this method lie in a fundamental misunderstanding of the application of the technique and the possible injuries associated with it. I will attempt to address the typical Frequently Asked Questions.
- Does it cause brain damage? No. A brain cell must be deprived of oxygenated blood for 30 seconds to die. This technique doesn’t deprive, it reduces. It is impossible to completely deprive the brains supply through squeezing the sides of the neck. There are interspinal arteries that cannot be manually compressed. This means you are at best reducing the supply by around 60%, and only for 15 seconds at most. This means that you are only cutting half as much for half as long as needed to do any damage.Can you crush the airway? This is much more difficult than one would imagine. The technique when applied properly puts pressure on the sides of the neck where the arteries are. This leaves the airway unobstructed.
- Most subjects I have rendered unconscious have been talking when it occurred. There are some cases of airway obstruction due to “choking” techniques in law enforcement. The issue is that these “chokes” are applied to the front of the neck at the trachea. Many were what are referred to as the “straight bar arm” choke, which is essentially crushing the throat with the forearm. Some are even cases of the officers using their baton to “assist” in sealing the airway to apply the “choke”. In the thousands of combat sports matches I have ever witnessed, I have never once witnessed an obstruction of the airway. In the recorded history of Judo, there has never been one case of death due to choking techniques. Properly applied, there is no danger.
- How do you wake them up? They will come to on their own. They have just experienced a reduction in inter-cranial blood pressure. It will stabilize the moment you release the hold.
- Could this kill them? Not if applied and followed up on properly. If applied correctly pressure is put the sides of the neck leaving the airway unaffected. It is only applied for 10-15 seconds making the risk of brain damage negligible. If the subject is placed carefully on the ground there is no risk of secondary injury due to falling. If the subject is checked post application, there is no risk of airway obstruction or aspiration (intoxicated subjects have been known to vomit during confrontations/agitation). If unable to place in handcuffs prior to regaining consciousness, the subject is placed in a restraint position that does not put pressure on the chest removing the danger of positional asphyxia (positional asphyxia is a common cause of in-custody restraint related deaths. It is when pressure is applied to the chest without pause for 3 minutes or more preventing inhalation. This causes the body to use all of the oxygen currently in the bloodstream and effectively “choking” them to death).
What does this paper show? I believe it shows that the only reliably reproducible, safe, and humane way to incapacitate a subject regardless of size or strength is to properly apply manual pressure to the carotid arteries for 8-10 seconds resulting in cerebral ischemia. This is the safest possible method for both the officer and the subject. If carotid restraint techniques are better understood, they can be removed from their place at the top of the force continuum (where they currently sit next to the firearm as deadly force) and placed a more appropriate position. I believe these techniques give officers the ability to de-escalate a situation and not move up the force continuum. This method will reduce injuries to officers and subjects due to its effectiveness. It will reduce the amount of injury based suits against agencies. It would also improve community/inmate relations because higher levels of force will be used less often, reducing the “aggressive” image of the officers.”
Like I said in the first post, This paper was written to facilitate a discussion of BJJ techniques for Law Enforcement. But, after a few civilians saw it they were pretty interested in the information, so I thought you guys might like it.