Defences against a standing strangle with the hands AKA 'rape choke' are very commonly practised in self-defence classes yet when I roll with people in BJJ classes nobody ever seems to try it on me. Why is this?

  • 2
    Primarily because the front trachea choke is so easy to defend against and just ends up giving their opponents their arms. Nobody will use it on you, because they know that it makes them vulnerable. That being said, it should be demonstrated more often in class, just so people can feel what it feels like, should they actually encounter it in real life. Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 15:15
  • If you stand it does not work a half-way decent judoka will throw you very quickly. On the ground it does not work either, bjj-people will armbar you.
    – Sanyifejű
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 10:41

2 Answers 2


Choking with hands wrapped around the throat is not efficient

The goal of chokes in BJJ and judo is to cut off blood to the head at the carotid arteries and jugular veins, which can render a person unconscious in seconds. Cutting off air takes much longer, so blood is strongly preferred. If you are trying to do this with each hand squeezing on both sides of the neck, you have two problems:

  1. You are relying on your hand strength only to apply force to the blood vessels. Direct force from the arms will be into the windpipe, which is not where you want it.
  2. The force applied by your hands is spread over your fingers, reducing pressure on the blood vessels. It does not help to cut off the blood in more than one place; to cut off blood, it is sufficient to have maximum pressure in one place.

Choking with your hands wrapped around the throat is not efficient because your hands are weaker than your arms and body. There are much better options like cross chokes, the rear naked choke, or even choking with knuckles directly on the blood vessels.

Contrast choking with hands wrapped around the throat with:

  1. A gi cross choke. You apply pressure to the blood vessels with the small area of your wrist or forearm. You get leverage from scissoring your arms when applying the choke. Your arms are much stronger than your hands. All of this adds up to much stronger choke.
  2. Choking with knuckles directly on blood vessels (ryote jime)[thanks to Philip Klöcking]. By using the knuckles instead of the surface of the fingers, the pressure on the blood vessels increases. You can adjust the angle of your arms to directly apply pressure on the blood vessels, either with your arms, or ideally with your body weight.
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    ryu-te jime can be effective in no gi bjj, i.e. simply by pressing the fists together when being in a good position (hands near hips). This actually chokes less experienced guys out at times. But that's the only thing I can think of. Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 20:18

(A bit of a frame-inversion here - I'm answering "why do we learn this if it's not useful when we roll" instead of "why don't people do this when we roll")

This is typically not being taught as a defense against a "trained" opponent, nor a "sports" defense for rolling with people in class or tournaments.

This is often being taught as "combat" self-defense against an opponent (usually untrained) who is intending you serious harm. For example, as you said, "rape choke".

Martial Arts originated as self-defense, not as a sport, and as such some techniques you learn will fit in one of those buckets but scarcely feature in the other.

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