Shhhh....shhhhh....go to sleep.

In my seven and a quarter years of training Brazilian jiu jitsu I have never choked someone unconscious until a few days ago. I've seen it happen to people in tournaments before and a few times in class. Typically most people tap, but sometimes if the choke is too quick they can not tap in time, or if the person is too stubborn and they just don't want to admit they lost.

I won't say any names as to who it was that I caught the other day. I will say that it was no easy task since he's one of the toughest blue belts in our academy. I had him in a loose triangle from the guard. I was having some difficulty closing it off and I felt him struggling to get out. Somehow managed to get both hands in the collar for a cross collar choke. Even though my grips were deep, I still had my doubts as to the effectiveness of the choke due to the angle. But I was determined to either finish it or get him to move so I could close off the triangle. I simply refused to let go.

The more time passed, the more impatient I got. It seemed like I had the choke for a good solid 30 seconds or so. My grips were starting to fatigue, but the choke was in good and no matter what I was not letting go. I knew it was just a matter of time before he would tap. Once I heard that snoring type noise from all the air getting sucked into his lungs, I knew I was getting close to finishing. I've had others make that noise with me before and it is usually quickly followed by a tap. I held on tight waiting for that tap to come....and it didn't. Next thing I know he is drooling on my pants leg and that's when I realized he was out.

Quickly I let go and moved him onto his back and elevated his legs to get the blood back to his brain. He woke up almost immediately and had a puzzled expression on this face. He asked "how long was I out?". It had only been a few seconds. He said that he could hear himself snoring in his dreams. He was confused and thought that we had just let him take a nap on the mats. It had seemed like he was out for a long time in his head. He said that last thing he remembered was thinking he needed to tap and then the tunnel closed in and off to dreamland he went.

Even though I know that if you don't tap you pass out, this experience still scared the crap out of me. For him on the other hand, (being the bad ass that he is), he shrugged it off and was ready to go only a few minutes later despite my insisting that he relax for a bit. Apparently I was more worried than he was.

Even though I may put on a "tough" face, I really don't want to hurt someone and I genuinely feel bad when I do. Even if it's in competition and winning is on the line, the last thing I want to do is cause another person harm. However, it is my opponent's responsibility just as it is mine to look out for our own safety. We need to realize that tapping out does not mean you are a "loser" if there is no way out, it means you are being smart. Everyone needs to tap out sometime. This is a dangerous sport we compete in and if you don't realize that then you are in the wrong sport. It is crucial, in my opinion to have good sportsmanship and be a good person in general. Nonetheless, I want to win just as badly as the next person and I will go for broke if I have to. So bottom line, feeling guilty is not the way to go but being a responsible competitor is!


  1. Wow that's crazy! I don't think you should feel too bad. You are close to a competition so you need to get a "dress rehearsals" during training. You are a tenacious competitor, and I think you did the right thing by fighting for your position. He was not upset because he probably knows you fight tough and fair.

    That said, I understand your position. I clipped one of my sparring partners ( a black belt!) in the nose with my foot one night, and he was off the mat and into the freezer for an ice bag. I felt terrible! He just shrugged and laughed it off. Nature of the beast.


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