The Judo Choke:
Resuscitation Techniques (Kappo)
By Neil Ohlenkamp
Editor's Note: This,
the second of two articles on The Judo Choke, discusses
resuscitation techniques that may be used if a choke
has rendered the recipient unconscious. The first
article discussed the proper way to
execute chokes and avoidance of dangerous methods.
If you have ever been on the end of a good judo choke
you will vividly remember the pressure and pain as
the opponents arms (or your own uniform) tighten around
your neck. If executed properly it is a safe technique
although it is also difficult to resist. If you don't
give up you can quickly lapse into unconsciousness.
So if you are the person who applied the choke know
the signs of unconsciousness. Also know what to do
to help your opponent if he should lapse into that
If the person against whom you applied a choke becomes
unconscious immediately release the victim and lay
him or her flat so that blood may flow naturally back
to the brain. Placing the victim on his or her side,
with the head resting on the arm, will prevent vomit
aspiration and facilitate breathing if necessary.
Monitor the victim closely to make sure the airway
is open and the victim is breathing. The opponent
will generally regain consciousness spontaneously
and be unharmed. If the athlete does not regain consciousness
in 20 to 30 seconds and remains unresponsive to your
efforts to revive him or her, medical assistance should
be sought immediately.
Judo or other martial arts instructors who teach
choking techniques should obtain CPR training and
certification for use in case of a breathing or other
emergency. Even without chokes, Judo and other martial
arts are strenuous physical activities that carries
some risks for which the instructor should be prepared.
Try to awaken the patient with vocal or physical
stimuli such as tapping or shouting. Check for breathing
by putting your face close to the patient's mouth
and looking at the chest, listening for air exchange,
and feeling for a breath. Keep the airway open and
initiate rescue breathing if there is no breathing.
If a pulse is absent, commence chest compressions.
There are many old methods of traditional resuscitation
that can also assist the victim in recovery. If the
outcome is less than desirable these interventions
may not be defensible in U.S. courts. They have generally
been replaced by CPR which is based on more modern
medical knowledge. Among sports coaches and medical
professionals in the U.S., CPR is commonly recognized
as the appropriate response to a medical emergency.
Nevertheless the traditional forms of resuscitation
are considered advanced techniques of Judo and instructors
may wish to study them to complete their training
for historical purposes or for use in special circumstances.
Traditional resuscitation techniques include:
The direct massage of the carotid triangle
on the neck to open up a collapsed artery or to manually
stimulate the carotid sinus.
Methods of assisting the victim in waking
up and focussing attention such as slapping the victim,
striking the sole of the foot, or yelling.
Methods of inducing or simulating breathing
through massage of the chest or diaphragm, expanding
and contracting the lungs. Three such methods of Kodokan
Judo are Sasoi Katsu, the inductive method, Eri Katsu,
the lapel method, and So Katsu, the composite method.
The Kodokan teaches Sasoi Katsu with the patient
sitting before you. From behind, bend your right knee
and place the kneecap against the patient's spine.
Spread your fingers and place your hands on his or
her lower chest, hooking your fingers under the lower
ribs. Pull back as if opening the ribs to either side,
put your weight on the shoulders to bend the body
back, and press with your right knee. This will draw
air into the lungs. When the ribs have opened as far
as they will go, release them. Air will be exhaled
from the lungs. Repeat the process slowly and regularly.
For traditional Eri Katsu kneel to the right of the
victim and support his or her upper body with your
left arm around the shoulder. Put the palm of your
right hand on the abdomen, just above the navel, and
press up against the solar plexus or pit of the stomach.
This will cause the diaphragm to rise, expelling air
from the lungs. Reinforce the action by bending the
upper body forward with your left arm. Gently release
your pressure to allow air to enter the lungs. Repeat
this procedure until respiration is restored.
For So Katsu lay the victim on his or her back and
kneel astride the hips. Place your hands, fingers
spread apart and pointing toward his or her head,
on the bottom of the rib cage. Lean forward and press
against the ribs to make him or her exhale, then relax
the pressure. Repeat this procedure, rocking forward
and back, until the victim can breathe without assistance.
Similarly this can be done with the victim on his
Note that these resesitation methods are used for
those who have lost consciousness through a choke
and not other reasons. They are not to be used when
the person is unconscious due to a trama, throw or
fall where a spinal injury is possible or suspected.
As with other martial arts and most aggressive competitive
sports, Judo practice includes the risk of serious
injury. Of all the types of techniques practiced in
Judo however, choking techniques have proven to be
among the safest resulting in relatively few injuries.
Canon of Judo. Mifune, Kyuzo. Tokyo:
Seibundo-Shinkosha Publishing Co., LTD., 1956
Kodokan Judo. Kano, Jigoro. Tokyo:
Kodansha International, 1986
Judo in Action. Kudo, Kazuzo. Tokyo:
Japan Publications Trading Co., 1967
Judo. Tomiki, Kenji. Tokyo: Japan
Travel Bureau, 1956
The Overlook Martial Arts Reader.
Nelson, Randy. Woodstock: The Overlook Press, 1989
Emergency Care for Choke Holds. Boulay,
John. Ottawa: "Coaching Review"
Deaths Allegedly Caused by the Use
of "Choke Holds". Koiwai M.D., E. Karl.
This page is copyright ©
1995/96/97/98 by Neil Ohlenkamp, Encino Judo Club,
California, USA. This article was originally published
in the January 1996 edition of "Judo Trends Magazine."
About The Author:
Ohlenkamp is a martial arts writer and founder
He is a certified United States Judo Association
instructor, referee, master rank examiner, and master
coach (the highest level of certification), and
he was awarded United States Judo Coach of the Year
for 1999. He holds a fifth degree black belt in
Judo and a sixth degree black belt in jujitsu and
has over 31 years of training and experience in
various martial arts as a competitor, instructor,
team coach, and tournament official.
us | magazine