The Dangers Of Putting People To Sleep With BJJ Strangles

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Baseball choke, Rear Naked Choke, the D’arce strangle, a guillotine, a triangle choke… As you can see, the choice of BJJ Strangles is a very rich and diverse one. You could go about choking with your arms, legs, parts of the Gi, or all of the above at once. Regardless of methodology, the goal is always a common one – get the tap. But, what happens when a person doesn’t tap? It may be due to inexperience, not enough time, or pure stubbornness. Regardless of the reason, the outcome is the same – they’ll go to sleep. Nothing special, right? Wrong! Getting people unconscious via strangulation techniques is just as dangerous as knocking them out! There are only a few scenarios in which you should consider going all the way with a choke, and none of them is in the gym! 

Let’s be honest, we all love the feeling of choking someone. Sinking in that arm into the figure four from the back is going to bring a proud smile to anybody’s face. Whenever you feel there’s no way out for your opponent from a choke you know you’ve beaten them completely. BJJ strangles are the most powerful, and potentially lethal weapon that’s available to use in the Jiu-Jitsu arsenal. Training chokes also bring about a lot of responsibility and it takes only a bit of recklessness to cause real harm to people.

BJJ Strangles

We all know that BJJ strangles work by putting people to sleep. We also know that there’s nobody that is impervious to a well placed Jiu-Jitsu choke, regardless of their strength. Another hugely important aspect of grappling chokes is their versatility. In BJJ alone there are perhaps hundreds of choke variations. They allow grapplers to pick a favorite weapon according to body type, capabilities, and preferences. They’re also the main tool that made the Gracies and Brazilian Jiu-JItsu so famous in the first place.

BJJ Strangles Going to Sleep Danger Choking someone in BJJ, as we mentioned before, has the primary task of eliciting a tap from our training partner/opponent. With BJJ strangles, there are two main avenues of pressure. The first, and most commonly used is pressure on the arteries of the neck, which is how people go to sleep. Simply put, the pressure block the arteries, blood doesn’t reach the brain and the lack of oxygen results in unconsciousness. The second way is by placing pressure on the trachea, which is more of a “choke” in the literal sense of the word. It often results in a lot of pain as it restricts airflow through the trachea. In the case of these “air” chokes, people usually tap and rarely go to sleep. There’s, of course, a combination of both that’s as bad as it sounds.

BJJ chokes are a highly efficient way of defending your self, especially against stronger assailants. In terms of self-defense, the ability to put people to sleep can mean the difference between life and death. They also host the element of surprise, as many of them work with the help of lapels and/or collars, as well as setups off your back. All in all, there’s nothing more powerful in the world of martial arts than a well-executed choke.

Lachlan Giles DVD ReviewLachlan Giles knows all about choking people. He also knows how to safely practice chokes. Check out his amazing four-part DVD set named “High Percentage Chokes: No-Gi”. You’ll learn a huge number of chokes from every imaginable position! 

What Happens When We Choke Somone To Sleep? 

What most of us say whenever BJJ strangles are involved is that we’re putting “someone to sleep”. However, calling it “going to sleep” is probably the best way of describing what’ going on. Rendering people unconscious is not fun, particularly when its done with no reason whatsoever. There is some great danger involved with choking people unconscious.

The main reason people go to sleep is a lack of oxygen to the brain. The two carotid arteries on either side of our neck are the main suppliers of fresh blood to the brain. There are two more arteries that run alongside our spine, but those are smaller. However, without these spinal arteries, most chokes would be much worse experiences for those receiving them. The two smaller arteries make sure the brain still has some oxygen, even though it’s shut down. The pressure we apply on the carotids means that our brains become deprived of oxygen. The longer we hold on, the worse the oxygen deprivation, even though not complete, gets. But that’s not all.

For the person receiving the choke, the experience is anything but pleasant. The pressure on the neck is painful, and there’s a feeling of complete powerlessness after as little as the first couple of seconds in a strangle. Very often this is the reason a person can’t tap after being caught. Then there’s the notorious “tunnel” where vision narrows into a central white spot before it all goes black. Headaches and dizziness, along with ringing in the ears usually accompany waking up from a choke. Snoring and some convulsions while asleep are also quite common.

The Real And Present Dangers

In order to cause brain damage to people with BJJ strangles, you’ll need to be holding them in a choke for a few minutes. Unless you’re intentionally trying to kill someone, this is unlikely to happen. healthy individuals have no problem after waking up from a 10-20 second choke, apart from some discomfort. However, the emphasis here is on healthy.

There are a lot of people out there that are not aware of certain underlying conditions. Or they just don’t want to talk about them. In any case, choking someone unconscious could easily trigger trouble that wouldn’t normally occur. One thing that’s really dangerous is that after releasing the pressure, blood comes rushing into the brain. In cases of potential aneurysms due to various reasons, this could lead to a blood vessel bursting and a stroke.

BJJ Strangles Going to SleepAnother big problem is the carotid sinus. This is basically a point where a very important nerve (the vagus) runs alongside the carotid artery on one side. Compressing it decreases the work rate of our heart as well as blood pressure. No need to mention that to anyone with vascular trouble this could be very bad, leading to arrhythmias heart trouble. There’s also the fact that the convulsions that accompany getting choked are the same when seen on an EEG as those of a small epileptical seizure. Again, not something you’d like to induce in your training partners.

People usually recover by themselves shortly after you release a choke. Letting them wake up is the best course of action, but you can also help by turning them to the side, so they do not swallow their tongue or suffocate on saliva.


Just TAP if someone is choking you because there’s nothing good in being put to sleep. It’s not even an experience as you don’t actually feel anything except maybe some weird “dream” or something like that. Also if you’re in your gym and someone is refusing to tap to your choke just let him/her go. One tap won’t make you better in Jiu-Jitsu. It won’t help you achieve anything but it will make you feel like you did a right thing. Trust me!

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