I thought this would be obvious, someone would just pass out and go floppy. However last week during rolling I got someone in a sleeve / Ezekiel choke while in my guard and he didn't tap out. He started making odd faces, eyes wide open, and twitching and grimacing, muscles seemed locked in place, and I thought he was just resisting and powering through, So I continued choking, then found I could just easily sweep him. Still choking him while on top I suddenly figured something was wrong and let go (this all happened pretty quickly really < 30 seconds). He lay there with face twitching a bit with eyes wide open....Took him a few moments before coming around again and he had no idea what had happened and had gone into dream land.

obviously I didn't really expect someone to go out like this, so, my question, what are the signs someone might of lost consciousness while being choked?

  • You bring up a good point - just because someone is out cold it doesn't mean their eyes are shut and their body is limp.
    – slugster
    May 6, 2013 at 1:34
  • @KeithNicholas. Indeed. +1 for the question: very good one. -1 for the partner who refuses to tap out on a training beyond the point of no return: I would bet he is a beginner; there is no reason not to tap out. Resisting when the choke is locked is a silly display of ego. He should be made aware of that.
    – Lex
    May 6, 2013 at 19:00
  • 4
    @Lex. Not Necessarily. Some chokes can be rather sneaky whereas others feel much tighter than they really are. I think it's important to really get to know when a choke works and when it doesn't. Ideally you shouldn't get choked out, so as a beginner tap early and often. But it's also important to only tap to correct technique, otherwise your training partners will incorporate bad habits and have false confidence, which can backfire in competitions.
    – AyaProgram
    May 7, 2013 at 8:35
  • @AyaProgram. I agree 100% with what you just said. Which is why I upvoted the question. However, by the way Keith Nicholas has described the situation I got the feeling that the person was passing out already while refusing to tap out. The person being choked should know when they are about to pass out and tap out before that. But I repeat: what you said is absolutely reasonable. I should thank you for clarifying that.
    – Lex
    May 7, 2013 at 21:06
  • @AyaProgram From what he said, he mistook what the choke was and tried to counter it, which just made it tighter, and I think by that time he just didn't have any time left to tap before losing consciousness. May 8, 2013 at 2:05

4 Answers 4


I've personally seen the following, in various combinations:

  • going slack
  • tensing up and shaking
  • sputtering
  • blinking/twitching
  • eyes glaze over
  • eyes close
  • snoring

It's a lot easier to tell as a third party, since you can see things like the legs going limp while their upper body is locked in position by the choke. It helps to have a coach or whatever watching the groups.

When I choke someone and I think they might go out, I listen and watch their breathing, their face, and how they respond to sweeps and other changes of position (as you did). The twitching, grimacing, odd faces, and muscles locked should be significant signs for next time.

  • 1
    yeah, I'm better prepared for next time, and I think overall, I'll be looking for anything odd when doing a choke May 6, 2013 at 1:39
  • Snoring! Thats a definite sign!
    – berimbolo
    Jan 6, 2017 at 13:21

Aside from all the signs that have already been listed, I would also look for your opponent to stop defending himself intelligently. If you feel that your choke is fully locked and your opponent doesn't seem to significantly relieve the pressure in any way (Blocking/Grabbing the chocking arm, adjusting his position, tucking his neck in etc...) chances are that he is already out.

Even if their body isn't limp, you should at least notice them not really reacting to anything you do. In any case just let go as soon as you notice anything suspicious. It's just training, so better be safe than sorry.


New user and first time poster here so please correct me if I am out of line.

One factor I don't believe was addressed was being able to tell if someone is going out from BEHIND. An example would be and bow and arrow choke where your training partner may have both hands in the collar attempting to defend. In this case it may appear and feel as if he is trying to defend -- your natural instinct may be to apply more pressure. With both hands trapped, he/she may not remember to tap with his feet before it's too late. Not being able to see his his/her face, you would not really know when they lost consciousness.

Remember that having a training partner is more important than getting the tap. Stop and check and make sure your training partner is not out. From this position it's very easy to have someone go out and you may still continue to fight for the tap for 5-10 (or more) seconds longer AFTER they have already lost consciousness.


They will not be moving their eyes can still be open and their muscles can still be flexed. Ways to prevent this if in a competion just tap if in a self defense situation pull the wrists down followed by chin down shoulders up.

  • 1
    can you make this a bit longer Claude, a little more detail.. good job for answering
    – user6827
    Nov 11, 2013 at 0:48
  • Please note this is a new user and is 13 years old, be kind ty
    – user6827
    Nov 11, 2013 at 1:00
  • Can you please offer some guidance for the newcomer, rather than a downvote and standard line. He is young and new and needs encouragement!
    – user6827
    Nov 11, 2013 at 1:09

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