I remember many years ago watching VHS tape I had as a child. It was a WWE event (known as WWF back then). I never really had access to wrestling tapes so this one VHS tape I would watch over and over again. Hulk Hogan was the main event. There was one thing that always intrigued me about this tape.
In the main event, Hogan was put into a hold by his opponent. The opponent had his forearm wrapped around Hogan’s neck from behind. To my surprise, Hogan would drop to one knee and then proceed to look like he was falling asleep.
The referee would then come and raise Hogan’s arm in the air and release it. Hogan’s arm would flop back down to the floor once, twice and on the third time miraculously Hogan would point his finger in the air and keep his arm up.
Shaking his arm with a new lease of power, Hogan would start to regain energy from thin air (you gotta love it!) then proceed to stand up and win the fight in true WWE entertainment style. Those of you who know a little about entertainment wrestling will know this move is known as a ‘sleeper hold’.
The sleeper hold would always fascinate me and I was always baffled as to how it worked. Even though the sleeper hold is used for entertainment purposes in WWE it is a very real and effective martial arts technique. It is known in Brazilian jujitsu as a rear naked choke (RNC).
So what is the rear naked choke and how does it work?
The rear naked choke is a move that you apply from behind an opponent. It is a ‘blood choke’ as opposed to an ‘air choke’. By this I mean some chokes involve cutting off the wind supply to an opponent causing him to tap out and give up (air choke). Whereas a blood choke like the RNC works in a different way.
The RNC involves applying pressure to the carotid arteries in the neck. These arteries run on both sides of the neck under the ears. They carry blood from the heart to the brain. Applying pressure on these arteries compresses them. This temporarily stops the blood flow from the heart to the brain causing the receiver of the choke to lose consciousness.
If you watch mixed martial arts events like UFC or Bellator you will see this choke many times and in most cases if the receiver refuses to tap out he or she will fall unconscious. The most recent UFC event that this occurred was the co-main event of UFC 196.
UFC 192 that took place on the 5th of march this year, Miesha Tate choked out champion Holy Holm. Holy Holm refused to tap out and this resulted in her falling unconscious or being ‘put to sleep’. You can see the footage below.
How it’s done;
This choke can be performed from standing or from the ground.
To make this easy to explain I will call the main choking arm 1 and the other arm 2.
- From behind slide arm 1 horizontally across the opponent’s neck under the chin (this will usually be your strongest arm).
- Bend the arm so your elbow is pointing outwards. Try to align your elbow with the opponents chin. The opponent’s throat should be in the crook of your elbow.
- With the same arm, (number 1) grab your bicep of the opposite arm (2). This is called a figure 4 lock because of the shape it resembles.
- Now bend arm 2 and place the hand of arm 2 on the back of your opponent’s neck aligned roughly with the elbow of arm 1 at the front of your opponent’s neck.
- Keep the opponents head close to you by pulling his head into your chest still squeezing tight. Keep your grip firm on your bicep and the back of the opponent’s neck.
- Flex the bicep of arm 1 and try to squeeze your elbows together. Remember you are applying as much pressure as possible to the sides of the neck.
All it takes is a few seconds for someone to pass out via this technique. Holding it any longer is very dangerous and can cause permanent brain damage. Needless to say, this choke can be very dangerous either way and should NEVER be misused or applied for fun.
If you have any questions you can email me or feel free to leave a comment below. Enjoy your weekend!