by Ken Endow

His arms clamp around my throat. I fight with all my might, but within ten seconds the ringing in my ears becomes deafening. The dojo spins; it seems to be more of a fuzzing out. Then, total blackness.
This is one of the easiest and fastest chokes to apply. As mentioned in the article, this choke can cause extreme pain. Since these findings were first ,published, revisions in the applica tion of the choke have been intro. duced making them more effective. Applying the choke, the attacker brings his right arm around the op ponent's neck, slipping it underneath the chin of the victim. The radius bone of the attacker's arm must be wedged against the carotid artery. The attacker must keep his head tight against his opponent, forcing the victim to hunch-over and bend into himself.
It takes only a moment to realize I am on the mat, face down. I am certain only a half-second has passed, but my opponent is waiting in the center of the fighting area, his judo gi neatly refolded and black belt re-tied.. He's staring the confident glare of the victor. From the looks of things I must have been out for at least half a minute, possibly more.
My teammates later report he knocked me out for the full count plus 20. It's hard to believe because I had jumped up, ready to defend myself, and felt prepared to continue the battle. But the match was over. "Ippon!" was called.. I lost.
How many judoka have experienced the same choke-out and unconsciousness? The first time, it's a spooky feeling - the not -quite - knowing -for - sure. Is it any wonder parents and physicians are among those most vehemently opposed to judo's use of the choke hold?
It seems to be the not knowing that is the main objection to choking or what is referred to by judoists as shimewaza. It was precisely this lack of knowledge that prompted the Kodokan to scientifically and intensively study the effects of choking the human body. A description of the experiments and the accompanying results were published by the Kodokan in a bilingual (Japanese and English) book called the Bulletin of the Association for the Scientific Studies on Judo, Kodokan, Report 1, "Physiological Studies on Choking in Judo."
Is there any danger in the use of shimewaza? This is what a team of experts came together to try to discover. Representing several of Japan's foremost medical schools and universities as well as the Kodokan, this group of medical specialists and ranking educators used the electroencephalograph to detect brain changes; the earoxymeter for blood oxygen saturation, the sphygmomanometer for arterial blood pressure; the plethysmograph peripheral blood vessel reaction and the micropipometer for skin temperature changes. Other studies probed the plasma protein concentration, blood water volume, hematrocrit complete blood count, eosinophil count and urine 17 keto-steroid content.

Scientific Search for Danger

Three other objectives to the study were to discover the differences in the effect of the various choking methods, the duration of the effect of choking on the body, and the physiological mechanism of the resulting state of unconsciousness. Three methods of choking were used: okurieri-jime, the neck squeezed as a whole; katajuji-jime, the carotid arteries' region pressed; hadaka-jime, the trachea depressed.
One of the most commonly used chokes in competition is the katajujijime and, yet, it seems to be-the most difficult to apply. The attacker begins the choke by facing his opponent and grasping the lapel with his left. Crossing the left and grabbing the opponent's right lapel with his right hand, the attacker inserts his thumb deep into the jacket and grasps a tight reign on the lapel. The opponent's lapel is used as a rope and is cinched tight across the opponent's left carotid artery while the attacker's right arm is jammed into the right side of the opponent's neck.
Grabbing the opponent by the lapel with the left hand, and wedging the bare arm under the chin, this choke is applied by the attacker from the rear. As the opponent moves his right arm up to break the hold of the attacker's left hand on his lapel the attacker comes from underneath the right arm-pit with his right, slipping between the shoulder and the nape of the neck, forcing the opponent's right arm up in the air and exerting pressure on the neck.

Describing the technique of choking in the 1968 AAU-USJF Official Judo Handbook, Dr. E. K. Kiowai explains, "Basically, except for one form of shimewaza, hadaka-jime the pressure is applied to the lateral side of the neck which the anatomists call the 'carotid triangle' . . . In the center of this triangle are the jugular veins, carotid artery and its branches and the carotid sinus. No strong muscle protects this area. The pressure is applied in a certain manner, depending upon the technique, directly on these structures. It may be the fist or the collar of the judogi. Very often it is the pressure of the dista end (joint) of the radius and the wrist which compresses the soft structures of the neck. Until the above name structures are-'sufficiently compressed the choke will not be effective. The neophyte may submit not because of the choke but because of the fear of being choked or the pain produced by improper choking methods." As Dr. Koiwai explains it, the hadaka-jimi choke hold is dif ferent from other forms because part of the pressure is applied to the larynx and trachea which is extremely painful and the player will usually submit before unconsciousness intervenes.
Short of submission, be will fight all the harder for the release because of the excruciating pain accompanied by this hold.
Six high-ranking black belt judoists were used for the Kodokan experiment. Five of the black belters were used as victims while the last, a sixth dan, performed the choking using the three, above-mentioned methods. Only in the katajuji-jime were the subjects strangled from the front. The victims were laid on a couch in the resting position, looking as though they were wired for sound. The other two forms of choking were performed while the upper part of the victims' bodies were raised approximately 30 degrees and the performer did the strangulation from behind.
As all the-equipment was checked and re-checked, the experiment was given the okay to commence. The sixth dan who was to perform the choking took his position and was given the signal to go ahead. The criteria for unconsciousness was the reflex dilation, or widening, of the pupils. The choker released his hold at the first sign of unconsciousness. Measurement on the eyes' pupils were made at rest, then at the ready position, and finally throughout the choking period until five minutes after regaining consciousness. The three chokes were performed on each of the five subjects so a total of 18 tests were recorded and analyzed. Some of the general symptoms the subjects elicited were interesting to the novice as well as the seasoned judoka.
Measuring the percentage of oxygen saturation in the blood of the helix of the ear with an earoxymeter, the top two choke holds show a marked drop in the amount of oxygen being absorbed while bottom graph shows only a slight decline.
Convulsions are noted only on the top two charts by a "*" while it is noted on the hadaka-jime choke hold the subject had no convulsions and maintains conscious throughout.

After only 10 seconds of choking, the victims fell unconscious. As soon as they were diagnosed unconscious, the per former released them and, the subjects remained unconscious from 10 to 12 seconds. During this period the victims some times developed clonic, a jerking or fluttering, cramps. All subjects woke up spontaneously. It was mentioned in the Bulletin the victims sometimes bad dreams which were "not unpleasant" while they were unconscious. After awakening, the subjects did not complain of any unpleasant feelings.
It seems the pain threshhold on the hadaka-jime method of choking was too great to induce unconsciousness and would be a poor method to rely on in tournament play because the opponent would probably fight all the more to gain release. However with the okurieri-jime and the katajuji-jime all the subjects lost consciousness and entered a state that was similar in many respects to that of sleeping. As the subject regained consciousness spontaneously his electroencephalogram readings returned to normal. It should be repeated that in all the cases the performer released his grip immediately after the subjects fell unconscious, thereby limiting the effect of choking to a short period. But had the strangulation continued serious aftereffects would have been expected.
What causes unconsciousness from choking? The findings show the stopping of the flow of blood to the bead plays an important role in causing the unconsciousness. In other words-, the subject blacks out due to the lack of oxygen in the brain which is fed blood via the carotid arteries.

Notes Epileptic Seizure

Also linked to this lack of oxygen to the brain are the convulsions which sometimes accompany the judo choke knockout. The electroencephalograph recorded symptoms very similar to that of a short epileptic seizure.
To prevent any dangers that may accompany the choke, the Kodokan bulletin advises it is dangerous to perform the choking bold on subjects with cardiac disorders or those suffering from hypertension since the load to the heart and the rise in blood pressure is marked. It is also advised that it is dangerous for youngsters whose nervous system and heart have not yet attained complete development.