Created By: surgoshan on September 29, 2011 Last Edited By: surgoshan on October 11, 2011
Troped

Choke Holds

When Bob chokes Alice.

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There are two kinds of chokes. Blood and air.

The air choke is when someone is choked unconscious by cutting off his air supply. The air to the lungs is suspended. In fiction the person chokes and flails in silence, and after maybe thirty seconds he is rendered unconscious. In reality, cutting off someone's air supply would take several minutes and he'd be at full strength the whole time. Do not choke someone this way.

The blood choke is when someone is choked unconscious by cutting off his blood. The supply of blood to the brain is suspended. In fiction the person goes cross-eyed and immediately succumbs to unconsciousness. In reality the, process takes a few seconds and the victim understands what's happening and can protest, in the brief window available. Do choke someone this way, if you know what you're doing. If you don't, you can kill someone. Sometimes a blood choke causes the collapse of the arteries carrying blood to the brain and, inevitably, death. This is why cops no longer employ "The Sleeper Hold". It kills.

Compare Tap on the Head where unconsciousness is rendered with a blow. Also, the Vorpal Pillow, where a choke hold causes instant death.

This is a choking trope.

Chokes in life and in fiction

Anime

Film
  • Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes features both chokes at the same time. A thug sneaking up on Holmes is put in a blood choke by Watson. To prevent the Mook from screaming, Holmes immediately pinches off his nose and mouth. They chat for a bit and, once the thug has passed out, move on. At the end of the film, a big mook has to be slowly air choked because he's just too darn big for anything else.
  • Darth Vader's Force Choke appears to be a long distance mystical air choke. Slow, unpleasant, unstoppable. Very dark-sidey.
  • Two chokes appear in Never Say Never Again. James uses a sleeper hold on a Mook guard during Unwinnable Training Simulation opening and an assassin uses a sleeper hold on one of the attendants at Shrublands.
  • In The Princess Bride, The Man in Black knocks out Fezzik with a blood choke. It takes several minutes and they have a rather cordial conversation all the while.
  • In Sneakers Dick Gordon knocks out Bishop with a sleeper hold. In contrast to the repeated Tap on the Head he's been given up to this point, it's an act of mercy.

Literature
  • In The Bishop's Heir, Dhugal (who doesn't then know he's Deryni, never mind controlling his shields) reacts badly to the psychic energies unleashed at Duncan's consecration as bishop. Morgan uses a choke hold on Dhugal to get him away from the cathedral via Transfer Portal and avoid unwanted attention from potentially hostile clerics when Dhugal's shields prove impossible for Morgan to breach.
  • A form of the "sleeper hold" variant comes up in Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. Weak, but Skilled Padawan Scout has a particular move where she can grab someone's throat, cut off the blood flow, and render them unconscious in seconds without permanently damaging them. She uses it in Padawan tournaments to great effect.

Live Action TV
  • Burn Notice's Michael Westen is adept at the blood choke. His victims rarely cry out, but they rarely have time.
  • Law & Order features a victim of a fatal blood choke. A military man upset at a Jerk Pacifist mocking his dead son employs a sleeper hold blood choke. It leaves telltale bruises over the victim's carotid arteries.
  • Subverted by Angel. Someone tries to air choke the titular character only to learn, to his dismay, that that doesn't work on vampires.
  • While Dexter prefers to sedate his targets, he's been known to strangle them into unconsciousness. Acceptable, considering what he plans to do with them doesn't really require them to be in the best health anyway. His brother was considerably more fond of the sleeper hold, although his goals were basically the same.
  • In an episode of NCIS, a sleeper hold accidentally kills someone.

Professional Wrestling
  • This is a standard (if illegal) move.

Video Games
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution - one of the non-lethal takedowns.
  • Metal Gear Solid. Snake can sneak up on guards, grab them by the neck, and throttle them unconscious. When they wake up, they're perfectly fine. Handled slightly realistically in that Snake can kill a guard by throttling him until his neck breaks. In MGS3, if guards are hungry and weak, Snake can instantly knock them out with an Unnecessary Combat Roll.
    • After beating Sniper Wolf for the first time, Snake himself got knocked out this way though.

Western Animation
  • Jonny Quest TOS episodes, "The Quetong Missile Mystery", Race Bannon uses a sleeper hold on a Mook guard.

Real Life
  • Blood chokes are part and parcel of martial arts and MMA. If an MMA fighter taps out half a second after an arm goes 'round his neck, it's because he's about to pass out.
Community Feedback Replies: 14
  • September 29, 2011
    Arivne
    This is currently paragraph 8 in Tap On The Head. When this trope is launched:
    • All of the examples on Tap On The Head that are this trope should be moved over.
    • Paragraph 8 should be moved to and/or merged with this trope
    • A reference to this trope should be added to Tap On The Head.

    "Another variant is the "sleeper hold", where an arm around the neck is used to cut off blood to the brain ("blood strangle/choke") or oxygen to the lungs (chokehold, stranglehold). Properly applied, this is a safer and more reliable way of causing someone to become unconscious (even allowed in judo competition for many decades), but carries a risk of stroke or other dangerous problems if used on an older victim or one with a weakened circulatory system. It also tends to wear off quickly (as in, after a couple of seconds), or alternatively when it doesn't, cause varying levels of brain damage."

  • September 29, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Literature example: In The Bishop's Heir, Dhugal (who doesn't then know he's Deryni, never mind controlling his shields) reacts badly to the psychic energies unleashed at Duncan's consecration as bishop. Morgan uses a choke hold on Dhugal to get him away from the cathedral via Transfer Portal and avoid unwanted attention from potentially hostile clerics when Dhugal's shields prove impossible for Morgan to breach.
  • September 29, 2011
    Tiiba
    Deus Ex Human Revolution - one of the non-lethal takedowns.
  • September 29, 2011
    NetMonster
    Next-to-last line: "parcel", not "partial".
  • September 29, 2011
    MorganWick
    Needs a rename. This isn't just any choke.
  • September 29, 2011
    surgoshan
    ^ Any suggestions? Perhaps Choke Holds?

    ^^ Thank you.
  • October 6, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    I like Choke Holds, for it makes it clear that this is something someone does to someone else, not simply choking on food.

    Has the stuff been moved from Tap On The Head yet? I thinks it's ready, once that's done.
  • October 6, 2011
    MiinU

    Anime

    • In Street Fighter II V, Bison does this to Chun Li, in the midst of a psycho power-fueled rage, but nearly goes too far.
  • October 9, 2011
    MoG2
    How did you miss Shinji choking Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion?!
  • October 9, 2011
    randomsurfer
    A standard (if illegal) move in Professional Wrestling.
  • October 10, 2011
    surgoshan
    I brought in everything from Tap On The Head.
  • October 10, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Should this one (second item under Comic Books in Tap On The Head) be brought in as well? I think so, as it's a blow to the neck which accomplishes much the same thing a choke hold does:

    "Action Girl Yoko Tsuno, the main character of Roger Leloup's comic book of the same name, is an Aikido expert who uses the "chop to the neck" movement (which is named yokomen in Aikido) regularly on her rivals. Yoko herself frequently faints after being chopped on the neck, her enemies all seem aware of Yoko's vunerability in this area, almost as if Yoko has something on her neck that says hit me here to make me faint."

    Once that's settled, I think it's ready to launch. The eighth paragraph of Tap On The Head can come out once that's done.
  • October 10, 2011
    surgoshan
    I left out the karate chop examples because the actual maneuver is a strike to the vagus nerve that runs down the side of the neck. It's an actual, albeit difficult, disabling blow that's different from a choke. You can also go for the carotid artery and make it a blood choke, albeit one that's intended to momentairly stun rather than render unconscious. I'm happy to concede that that sort of chop belongs here because it's a choke. The other is a crippling nerve strike, a Pressure Point. Unless the karate chop is explicitly stated to be a strike to the carotid, I'd assume it was a vagus strike, because they're usually depicted as a disabling blow.

    A little bit of research tells me "yokomen" is actually a blow to the head, so that one's explicitly a Tap On The Head.
  • October 11, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    ^ Ah, just as the Vulcan nerve pinch is something else again. Thanks for the clarification. Sounds as if it's Ready For Launch.

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