US Army Combatives

3-4 Counters to Chokes


A soldier must know how to defend against being choked. Incapacitation and unconsciousness can occur within three seconds; therefore, it is crucial for the defender to know all possible counters to chokes.

  • a. Eye Gouge. The opponent attacks the defender with a frontal choke. The defender has the option of going over or under the opponent’s arms. To disable the opponent, the defender inserts both thumbs into his opponent’s eyes and tries to gouge them (Figure 3-10). The defender is prepared to follow-up with an attack to the vital regions.
  • b. Shoulder Dislocation. If the opponent applies a choke from the rear, the defender places the back of his hand against the inside of the opponent’s forearm (Figure 3-11, Step 1).

Then, he brings the other hand over the crook of the opponent’s elbow and clasps hands, keeping his hands close to his body as he moves his entire body around the opponent (Figure 3-11, Step 2).

He positions his body so that the opponent’s upper arm is aligned with the opponent’s shoulders (Figure 3-11, Step 3) . The opponent’s arm should be bent at a 90-degree angle.

By pulling up on the opponent’s elbow and down on the wrist, the opponent’s balance is taken and his shoulder is easily dislocated (Figure 3-11, Step 4) . The defender must use his body movement to properly position the opponent—upper body strength will not work.

He drops his body weight by bending his knees to help get the proper bend in the opponent’s elbow. The defender must also keep his own hands and elbows close to his body to prevent the opponent’s escape (Figure 3-11, Step 5).

c. Weight Shift. To counter being choked from above while lying on the ground (Figure 3-12, Step 1) , the defender places his arms against his opponent’s elbows and locks the joints.

At the same time, he shifts his hips so that his weight rests painfully on the opponent’s ankle (Figure 3-12, Step 2) .

The defender can easily shift his body weight to gain control by turning the opponent toward his weak side (Figure 3-12, Step 3) .

d. Counterstrikes to Rear Choke and Frontal Choke. As the opponent tries a rear choke (A,Figure 3-13, Step 1) , the defender can break the opponent’s grip with a strong rear-elbow strike into the solar plexus

(A,Figure 3-13, Step 2). He can follow with a shin scrape down along the opponent’s leg and stomp the foot (A, Figure 3-13, Step 3).

He may wish to continue by striking the groin of the opponent (A,Figure 3-13, Step 4) .

As the opponent begins a frontal choke (B, Figure 3-13, Step 1), the defender turns his body and drops one arm between the opponent’s arms (B, Figure 3-13, Step 2).

He sinks his body weight and drives his own hand to the ground, and then explodes upward with an elbow strike (B, Figure 3-13, Step 3) into the opponent’s chin, stomach, or groin.

e. Headlock Escape. If a defender is in a headlock, he first turns his chin in toward his opponent’s body to prevent choking (Figure 3-14, Step 1).

Next, he slides one hand up along the opponent’s back, around to the face, and finds the sensitive nerve under the nose. He must avoid placing his fingers near his opponent’s mouth, or he will be bitten (Figure 3-14, Step 2).

The defender can now force his opponent back and then down across his own knee to the ground and maintain control by keeping pressure under the nose (Figure 3-14, Step 3). He can finish the technique with a hammer fist to the groin.

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