Hello! If one character, reasonably stronger and more experienced than the other, is choking that other character with their hands around their throat, how would the victim of the attack be able to break free in a realistic manner? Where on the body should the character try to hit to stun the attacker? Is it reasonable to reach for an object to hit the attacker? Thank you in advance! (I’ve been having a little difficulty with this one.)

That’s a very specific degree of “more experienced.” Choking
someone from the front is, in general, a pretty terrible idea, and not
something you ever want to do to someone with training. It’s one of the easiest
chokes to counter, even for someone with a weekend’s self defense class. The
counters are simple and easy to remember, and there are many of them.

They will all leave
the attacker in a vulnerable position.

When you are choked, the first responsibility of the choke recipient is not to break the stranglehold but to ensure you can continue breathing as
you attempt your defense.

The first reaction when you see it coming is to drop your
chin, in an attempt to either keep your opponent from grasping your throat or
just protect your neck. This is not an escape, but it will stop the choke dead
in its tracks. Whether from the front or behind, dropping the chin is the first
line of defense.

The next step is to break the hold.

One response is to put your hands together, either in fists
or palm to palm, and drive your arms between theirs, then lever their arms off
your throat (this should happen naturally as you raise your elbows, but if it
fails, you can rotate your elbows apart keeping your wrists against one
another), and run your forehead into their face. This is all executed in a
fluid motion and leaves the attacker with a bloodied face, and probably off-balance.

Another option is to reach over across their wrists, bring
your forearm down, levering their hands off your throat, and tying them up,
while you have a free hand to work with, and (temporary) control over their
arms. Lock the wrist correctly on the way in, and you can pull it back off and
transition straight into the joint break described below.

The asshole response is to grip their skull by the temples,
and put your thumbs through their eye sockets. Good luck maintaining a choke
while you’re trying to keep someone from taking your eyes out. This assumes
your arms are of roughly equal length, which, they really should be close
enough.

The forward choke with the hands around the throat takes
forever. It takes four to five minutes to put someone out with it and even then
you’re not guaranteed the kill. You’ve got to keep it going past the point they
pass out or they’ll start breathing again. In a fight, it’s the “until next
week” choke. So, there’s a good chance they’ll get frustrated, make a mistake,
and end up much closer than they should.

The reason why Hollywood loves it is because, by comparison,
it’s safe. There’s a phenomenal margin for error. You can put two guys on set,
and even if you screw up catastrophically the chances are that they’ll walk
away fine. It’s a very difficult choke to actually kill someone with.

I’m assuming this is with both hands, because you said it
was, but for those of you wondering about how you deal with someone trying to
choke you with one hand, that is one of the worst ways you can grab a foe. You
can simply reach across their wrist, grab it, rotate across towards the thumb,
which will extend the arm, then when the bone locks drive your other hand into
their hyper-extended elbow against the natural pivot. Or, if you’re slightly
less bloodthirsty, you simply apply pressure, instead of striking, locking the
joint and driving them to their knees.

Chokes from behind are much harder to deal with. The
critical moment is if the victim can interrupt the choke before it actually
gets under the chin. This can be accomplished by dipping the head and using the
jaw to protect the throat. If you’re willing, you can also use your teeth as a
deterrent. This can also be accomplished with your hands. …wedging the arm;
if you can bite with your hands, please do not let us know.

There are several ways to position your hands, some of which
feed directly into throws.

If all of this fails, and you have someone with their arm
wrapped around your neck, trying to choke you, you can still snap your head
back, driving your skull into their face. Contrary to what you may have learned
from TV, head butting someone does not require a lot of windup. Your neck is
ready to go, most of the time. In fact, drawing back is usually a classic
beginner’s mistake. You can assist this by reaching over your head, and getting
a firm grip on their skull, to ensure they don’t pull away before you strike.

You can also double over (at the waist), dragging them with
you, and then throw yourself backwards into whatever’s nearby and relatively
solid. Bonus points if it’s something that will connect with their lower back
on impact. And, yes, even someone in fair to average physical condition absolutely can do this to someone larger
than them. It’s because you’re using leverage, and your legs can support far
more weight than you think. For reference: I was trained on this as a kid before
I hit 5ft, and could reliably do it to 200lb adults while I was in training.
(Throws too, for that matter.)

As with chokes from the front, you can still choose to be an
asshole. Reaching over, finding the temples, and taking out the eyes is an
option. The downside is you have to guess where their eyes are, the upside is
everyone’s skull is roughly the same
shape, so it won’t take long, and you can still make the ordeal a horrifically unpleasant
experience for your attacker in a matter of seconds.

Really, the problem with chokes, in general, is that they
don’t secure the victim’s limbs. For a martial artist that is a huge mistake.
It means they have a lot of options to utterly ruin your day. Conceptually you
can address the choke itself, and use that as a transition into a retaliatory
strike. Or you can ignore the choke (obstructing the flow of oxygen to the
brain takes a while to kick in) and exploit the attacker’s lack of defenses.
Choking from behind helps to mitigate that a little, but, really it only
requires that the victim be more willing to use their environment.

Ironically, dealing with someone trying to choke you from
behind is actually harder when they’re shorter than you. You can still pick
them up and take them with you, but things like head butting get significantly
harder.

-Starke

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