Anatomy of a Strangle

This week we will discuss strangles and strangulations; this will be the start of series of articles on the topic of chokes, strangles and other submissions attacking the neck. I define a “strangle” as a grappling technique that restricts the flow of blood through the carotid arteries, giving your opponent the choice of submitting or becoming unconscious.

First it is important to understand a little bit of anatomy. Try turning your head to one side and then pinch the big long muscle on the opposite side of your neck. This muscle runs from just behind your ear to the top of your breastbone, and is called the “Sternocleidomastoid”. The carotid artery is roughly located underneath this muscle.

The take-home message of the above anatomy lesson is that proper strangles attack mainly the SIDES of the neck. When these arteries are compressed by a choke the brain doesn’t receive enough blood and the person becomes unconscious. In the hands of an expert this can take as little as 5 to 10 seconds. Most properly applied strangles are not usually very painful, although there are a few exceptions to this rule.

Resisting a strangle is not a question of toughness. Because you are temporarily restricting the flow of blood to the brain, even if the person high on PCP, or has superhuman pain tolerance, they should go unconscious. As with all techniques there are a few freaks of nature that have necks strong enough to resist most strangles – but you should know that these people are VERY few and far between.

Next week we will discuss some very important choking and strangling safety tips, including what to expect when someone has been rendered fully unconscious.

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