By far the best solution to an attacker’s chokehold on you is to avoid a confrontation entirely. A choke attack can come at you from almost any direction and angle so, first and foremost, you must always be aware of your surroundings. Know how close someone is behind you, as well as to the right and left sides of your body. Always keep a safe distance between you and any stranger nearby. It should be a given that you always scan your forward field of vision for anyone approaching that may appear less than friendly. This is your first line of defense against being captured in a devastating and possibly life-ending chokehold.
Next, you need to learn how to redirect an attacker’s attempt at a choke by redirecting his hands away from their target—your neck! No matter what angle the attack originates from, you should be able to successfully change the intended path using no more than one or two quick hand movements. These are subtle moves that allow your attacker’s energy to keep moving past you, creating necessary space between you and him and allowing you to avoid his grasp. Many martial arts and self-defense classes are available that work on avoiding attacks. Do your research and take some classes. In the long run, you will be glad that you did!
In the case of a front choke, for example, your attacker’s arm doesn’t wrap around your neck, but rather both his hands are pressed against your throat as he attempts to squeeze until you have no breath left in you. More likely than not, his initial forward attack will drive you back into a wall, car or any firm standing surface that will provide leverage, making his choke more effective. Often the victim is weaker than the assailant, whether it is a man or woman, and one huge mistake the victim consistently makes is trying to out-muscle their assailant. This is a natural human reaction when danger is imminent, but this innate behavior must be overcome to successfully counter and escape. If not, the victim would struggle to no avail to get the attacker’s arms off of their throat, but with strength and leverage against them, they would succumb to lack of oxygen within seconds. But don’t worry; you have other options besides fighting against his strength!
The most important thing to remember, above all others, when you feel your attacker’s arm wrapping around your neck is to drop your chin down and position it into the bend of your assailant’s elbow. This will protect your windpipe and allow you to continue to breathe. Also, you should always try and prevent your attacker from pulling your neck and upper body backward as he executes his choke, leaving you off balance and without stable footing. You will need a solid foundation to execute proper striking.
Your prime striking targets are areas of his body that can’t be “built up” in the gym. These include his eyes, the bridge of his nose, his throat, ears, groin and numerous pressure points just lying under the skin throughout his body. For a front choke defense, use one of your free hands to scratch, poke and gouge or punch your attacker’s eyes. You can use a variety of hand strikes including a one-knuckle punch, a finger spear, a hook-shaped thumb to gouge at the eye, and even a claw hand in which your fingernails will rake across your attacker’s face. Lower strikes can also surprise your assailant; grab his groin, then twist and pull quickly with all your strength. To defend against a rear choke, secure your attacker’s arm with your weaker hand and with your more powerful arm shoot constant elbow strikes to his face, head or rib cage. Continue your barrage of strikes, alternating over various vital points of his body until he releases. A foot stomp is also a good method to cause a sudden reaction in your attacker. A woman wearing high heels and exercising a precise hit on the top of the foot or toes can cause extreme shocking pain. All these initial strikes should cause your attacker’s hands to momentarily lose their strength and rigidity, allowing you to break free and run away. Remember, all these strikes require extreme precision, quickness and surprise. Poor choices for targets, a “should I do it now or not” attitude, and an uncommitted counter attack will only irritate your aggressor and make things much more dangerous for you.
Your objective is to get away, plain and simple—not to stay and fight it out with your aggressor. Once you have effectively shocked your attacker, quickly get his arm off your neck and find your exit. Even though he may have been stunned momentarily, the effects of your strikes won’t last long. He could recover within seconds and if you’re not out of his range, his revenge will be very painful for you. A chokehold attack doesn’t have to mean lights out for you. Such a close-up and confining attack is a frightening situation without question. But if you keep calm and collected you can overcome a bigger, stronger attacker and make your escape. Repetitive practice of your self-defense techniques with real-life partners is crucial for your self-defense moves to become natural and instinctive, enabling you to survive a very dangerous situation when every precious second counts!
It’s like drowning, but without being in water. Every breath becomes harder and harder to take in. All you feel is the firm, immovable arm of your assailant around your neck as black spots appear across your field of vision. Suddenly, everything becomes black. You have passed out—and you are now at the mercy of your attacker.
This is an all too real description of what it’s like to experience being choked to the point of unconsciousness by someone out to take your money, your body or even your life. Although it may seem like you have no other choice but to succumb to your attacker’s powerful grip, there are ways to prevent this, or if captured, ways
to turn the tables on your attacker and make him wish he picked an untrained and less knowledgeable target.
It’s very true that not all self-defense situations are identical, but if you follow the general guidelines above, you will have a fighting chance to make it out of a chokehold alive and without excessive injuries.
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by Dave Campbell / Dec 18, 2014