CO Combatives: The Side Choke


There has been quite a lot of flak in the news lately about the use of illegal police chokes since the death of a New Yorker Eric Garner who died while being arrested in July. It was later found in the autopsy that Garner’s CAUSE OF DEATH was from the choke hold and “overt compression on his neck” and not any other medical conditions as previously speculated.

Before we begin, let me speak plainly: CHOKES ARE DANGEROUS and INHERENTLY RISKY TO USE in a fight. The CO has to understand that when chokes are taught to Law Enforcement or Military, they are taught in conjunction with the Force Continuum. Simply put, most chokes are designed so the CO can take it to whatever level they need too, depending on the situation.

The CO has also got to remember that attempting to put somebody in a choke hold can be interpreted as LETHAL FORCE by the other party, since the aim of a choke is to put the person unconscious, and an unconscious person is 100% vulnerable.

There are basically 2 types of chokes: Air and Blood.

The Side choke is a blood choke and in my experience can be one of the most useful and practical chokes for the civilian.

I am using the  USMC CLOSE COMBAT (MCRP 3-02B) Field Manual for illustration, 6-2 thru 6-3. This really is a handy little manual to learn some very useful street wise Combatives, so please read the whole thing, not just this section.

This choke is executed while FACING your opponent. It is particularly effective while deflecting a punch, which is why I like to teach it. In essence, it really is a COUNTER for the CO to de-escalate violence, which a majority of the time, puts the CO on the right side of the law as far as self-defense statutes go.

Lower Right Picture. The CO deflects the punch with his left hand, parrying the opponents punch INBOARD.


Top Left Picture: CO brings his right arm UNDERNEATH the opponent arm and up around the front of his neck. It is very important to carry some momentum into this move by stepping “into” the opponent, as the opponent will most likely have begun to back up.  While extending your fingers, place the back of your forearm against the opponents neck, just below the ear, and press on the CAROTID ARTERY.

Bottom Left Picture: Reach with the left hand around the back of the opponents neck and clasp hand together TIGHTLY. Pull the opponent toward you by PULLING clasp hands toward your chest.

Top Right Picture: Exert pressure on the side of the opponents neck with forearm. Typically, you can expect the average opponent to either get COMPLIANT or ASLEEP in under 8-10 seconds if done correctly.


For those of you who like vids (like me) here is the simplest, no bullshit, no frills vid I could find on You-Tube. Pay attention to the movement instructions, as this is key to get good position for both leverage and force for the choke.



There are multitude of counters put forth for this type of choke, and many ways to “skin the same cat”. Some teach HOW to escape the choke hold, but my take has always been to stop from getting put into a choke in the first place  Keep your opponent from closing with and getting close enough to put you in a choke. We have to remember, that attempting to put somebody in a choke constitutes lethal force, since the aim of any choke is to make the person unconscious, and a person that is unconscious is 100% vulnerable. Therefore, our counter has to be a combination of a violent and acute strikes to gain distance combined with the presentation of a weapon (knife or firearm) at close contact distances.


Presentation of a Weapon

Integrating the presentation of a weapon with our Combative drills has to be a mandatory skill-set for the CO. Maintaining the option of a quick, seemless presentation is our goal. Remember the principles of working with our momentum and eliminating any un-needed (jerky) movements in our draw. Examine your draw and see where it could be faster. Using the tried and true principles of geometry such as The quickest way between two points is a straight line, etc. As I have discussed before, I believe Appendix Carry offers the CO the quickest draw stroke, for both knife and firearm, but the CO will have to experiment for himself what works best for him.

As I have stated before, Kelly Mccann’s Combative Pistol DVD is an awesome primer for this study, as it integrates blade and firearm techniques into ECQ Combatives.

Stay Alert, Armed and Dangerous!