“Was That Close?”

And, no….. This isn’t the lead in to a dirty joke.

It’s what I hear when I do the first choke defense I ever learned. And that is a look of complete and utter disdain.

Yep. That’s it.

This was shown to me, in my first grappling training experience. It was before Youtube, so kids like me had to go to a library and read books! So, I “learned” a couple of chokes from a Judo book before I went to class. And, I got ALL of them!!! I’d get a choke, and my teacher did not blink. The look was the definition of indifference. And so, I would switch to something else. And, BAM…. I’d get another choke. And…… Nothing. After a few of these….. He tapped me with pressure from Side Control (hmmm, sounds familiar?). And I had to ask:

Me: “What was I doing wrong with those chokes?”

Teacher: “Nothing.”

Me: “Um…. Then….. Why weren’t you tapping?”

Teacher: “You kept letting go.”


But….. He was right. It takes 8-12 seconds for a perfect choke to put someone down. And if it’s a bit “off” it can still work, but it can take even longer.

And this is where confidence, and psychology, comes in.

When someone catches a choke on me, and I have NO WAY OUT….. I will do….


I make a face of complete and utter boredom. And usually…… The person doing the choke begins to doubt themselves, and their technique. And they give in to that. And they bail, entirely, or at least adjust and try to redouble their effort. Either way…. They give me a way out.

It’s the ultimate Jedi mind trick.

I say in my head “Your choke is not working.” And, they think “My choke is not working.” and they bail.

So, I hear this all the time. “What was I doing wrong on that choke?”, or “Was that even close to working?”. To which I say “I almost passed out.”. And I get to relive that first training moment from the teachers perspective.

So remember:

1. If you get a choke on someone…… Hold on. Only adjust if you need to, and then only after you’ve waited long enough. Never bail, because you’re self conscious.

2. If you ever get a choke on ME…. Give up. It will never work.

No, I’m kidding. If you ever get a choke on me, and I’m working….. It’s not. If I stop and do nothing, and look bored. DO NOT LET GO. I am doing that, because it’s my last option. I’m just hoping you give up before me!

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