Chokes—which also are called chokeholds or strangleholds—are grappling holds applied to an opponent or attacker’s neck that can cause unconsciousness or death. They are commonly used in combative sports, close-quarters and hand-to-hand combat, law enforcement, martial arts and self-defense.
In classic films, the villain or monster wraps his powerful hands around his victim’s neck and squeezes the life out of him. In reality, chokes require less physical power and use either leverage or an opponent’s clothing to making breathing difficult, cut blood flow to the brain or both.
There are two main categories of chokes. Air chokes (also called tracheal chokes) compress the upper-airway passages, causing a powerful gag response, pain and suffocation. Blood chokes (sleeper holds) pinch the carotid arteries and jugular veins (main brain blood vessels), cutting off blood circulation to the brain and quickly rendering a person unconscious.
Commonly used chokes in close-quarters combat and combat sports are the anaconda choke, arm triangle, gogoplata, guillotine choke, rear-naked choke, triangle choke and the Peruvian necktie. Losing a UFC fight with a sub-par performance also could be considered a choke.