What to do when someone is choked out during BJJ?

In BJJ’s wide range of moves and techniques, we will also find chokes. It is not shocking then that someone may be choked out at competition or even on regular training. If you are lucky enough you probably never experienced it. This does not mean, however, that you or anyone from your surroundings will never be in such a situation. That’s why today we ask and answer the question: what to do when someone is choked out during BJJ?

Choked out in BJJ – Most common techniques

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu choke out is a situation when the use of a choke leads to syncope, otherwise called temporary loss of consciousness. This happens usually because the blood flow to the brain has been interrupted by the choke. Such a situation can most often happen through the use of chokes like rear-naked choke, collar chokes, arm triangle, triangle choke, and the guillotine. What’s interesting, No Gi chokes, where you are using only the bony structures of your wrist and forearm, seems to be more “effective”. It means that using them takes less time to choke out someone than while using the gi for choking. We must, therefore, be doubly careful while practicing chokes in No Gi.

By the way, we often assume that someone is choked out because he is too cocky and doesn’t want to tap at all. Of course, this is often true. However, thinking it is always like that, is very harmful and unfair. Not everyone choked out forgets about tapping. Sometimes the choke is very tight from the beginning and its “victim” may not even have time to do anything.

What to do when someone is choked out?

The most standard behavior in such situations is lifting up the legs of the unconscious person to stimulate blood flow. However, medics recommend a slightly different procedure. If a person is unconscious from a choke, first check if he is breathing. Just in case, you can also remove his mouthguard if he has one. If he is breathing lay him in the recovery position. Usually, a choked out person will wake up after a few seconds. If he is still breathing but doesn’t wake up, leave him in a safe position and call an ambulance.

The worse situation is when a choked person has trouble breathing. If he is not breathing normally massage the throat to relieve the tightness and get blood flowing and air moving again. Once breathing returns to normal, place in the recovery position. In a worst-case scenario, where a choked out person is not breathing, one person should roll him onto the back and begin CPR. Someone else needs to call for an ambulance.

Above are things that people who see a choked out person should do. But there is also something that should be remembered by people who happily woke up quickly after losing consciousness. The thing to remember here is: If you get choked out, you’re done rolling for this day. Period. There are no excuses, saying that you feel good, etc. You were choked out, you need to rest. It’s that simple.

So, are choke outs dangerous and have long term consequences?

The above recommendation to rest after you were choked out is due to the fact choke outs may be potentially dangerous. Choke outs may lead to short-term memory loss, hemorrhage and harm to the retina, stroke, seizures, coma, and death in the worst cases. There is only still debate about their danger depending on the duration. It is already stated that after your brain will be without oxygen for 4 to 6 minutes, permanent brain damage will begin to occur.

There is no research about what exactly happens to your brain when you get choked out for less than 4 minutes. Fortunately, this is a more common situation in practicing BJJ. Being unconscious only lasts for a few seconds not even close to minutes. However, generally, loss of oxygen is never good for you. Even lasting a few seconds is not safe and always, even if minimally, causes the death of brain cells. in some rare cases it can couse stroke.

In conclusion

Better safe than sorry. It is good to know what to do when someone is choked out, but even better is to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Of course, that doesn’t mean to avoid chokes at all. It’s just about approaching them wisely. Which means that we don’t have to do them extremely tight during regular training. Also, maybe sometimes it’s worth letting go of someone who doesn’t want to tap. Someone who has no intention of tapping on normal training where he is not fighting for the title of world champion is just stupid. Be smarter and don’t choke him at all costs. And vice versa, don’t be stupid and just tap when you feel the choke is tight. There is no reason to risk your life and health.