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Shime-Waza: Choking And Strangling Techniques And They Safe?

The Science Behind Choking in Judo: Safety Measures and Research Findings

A good number of years ago I had a student had come up through the jouniors and I decided that at his age it was appropreat for him to learn to do Shime Wasa. His mother happend to be sitting on the sidelines that night and she was sergon. She was imediatly uncertain about the practice. I managed to elay he concerns but i did some reaserch just to be sure. The following is stuff that I learned but never published on my site. I guess I just never got around to it. Anyway I thought it may be usfult to some so here it is.

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Shime-Waza is one of the groups of Katame-waza (Grappling Techniques)

The execution of Shime-Waza is in practice a subtle art because of the potential danger for the opponent.

By my definition, there are two basic Shime Wasa:

  1. Strangling
  2. Compression of the carotid arteries on one or both sides of the neck restricting the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.

  3. Choking
  4. Compression of the windpipe (trachea) stopping or reducing the flow of air to the lungs.

Gyaku Juji Jime (Reverse Cross Choke); Nami Juji Jime (Normal Cross Choke); Kata Juji Jime (Half Cross Choke)

Hadaka Jime (Rear Naked Choke)

Kata Ha Jime (Single Wing Choke)

Kata Te Jime (One hand Choke)

Okuri Eri Jime (Sliding Lapel Choke)

Ryo Te Jime (Two Handed Choke)

Sankaku Jime (Triangle Choke)

Sode Guruma Jime (Sleev Wheel Choke)

Tsukkomi Jime (Thrust Choke)

Is Judo Shime Wasa Safe?

E.K. Koiwai, M.D. says in his article, “How Safe is Choking in Judo?

“Considerable scientific research has been done by the Japanese. These results are published in two reports of the Bulletin of the Association for Scientific Studies on Judo, Kodokan, in 1958 and 1963. They studied the physiological effects of choking in Judo by using the electroencephalogram for brain wave changes, the earoxymeter for blood oxygen saturation, the sphygmamometer for arterial blood pressure, the plethysmograph for reaction of peripheral blood vessels, the micro-pipometer for skin temperature changes. Others also studied the plasma protein concentration, blood water volume, hematocrit, complete blood count, eosinophil count, and urine 17 keto-steroid content. They were, of course, interested to know if there were any deleterious effects during and after the shime-waza was applied and what precautions should be taken to prevent any serious consequences.1

Scientific Research on Choking in Judo:

According to Dr. E.K. Koiwai, extensive Japanese research has been conducted on the physiological effects of choking in Judo. This research, spanning brain waves, blood oxygen, and more, aimed to understand the consequences of shime-waza and ensure safety.

Key Findings from Japanese Experiments:

  1. Timing of Unconsciousness:
  2. Unconsciousness occurs in approximately 10 seconds, with natural recovery in 10-20 seconds upon release from the choke hold.

  3. Pain Perception:
  4. Pain is felt in the larynx and trachea during hadaka-jime but not in other techniques before unconsciousness.

  5. Causes of Unconsciousness:
  6. Lack of oxygen and metabolic disturbances in the brain due to cerebral circulation disturbance lead to unconsciousness.

  7. Facial Changes:
  8. Flushing of the face results from pressure disturbance in carotid arteries and jugular veins.

  9. EEG during Convulsions:
  10. EEG findings during convulsions resemble a brief epileptic seizure.

  11. Autonomic Nervous System Stimulation:
  12. Tachycardia, hypertension, and mydriasis result from sympathetic nervous system stimulation.

  13. Laboratory Studies:
  14. Changes similar to those in central shock accompany choking, acting as a stressor on the circulatory and hormonal systems.

  15. After Effects:
  16. No deleterious effects persist after being "choked"; less dangerous than boxing knockouts.

Dangers of Choking:

  1. Subjects with Cardiac Disorders or Hypertension:
  2. Choking poses a risk when applied to individuals with heart conditions or high blood pressure.

  3. Youngsters with Incomplete Development:
  4. Applying choking on individuals with immature central nervous systems and hearts can be dangerous.

  5. Holding After Unconsciousness:
  6. Continuing to hold after the subject falls unconscious poses a danger.

Safety in Judo Choking:

  1. Supervision and Observation:
  2. Choking in Judo, whether in practice or competition, is supervised and observed by qualified instructors and officials.

  3. Submission Before Unconsciousness:
  4. Contestants submit before reaching unconsciousness.

  5. Natural Regaining of Consciousness:
  6. After choking, contestants regain consciousness naturally in 10-20 seconds.

  7. Immediate Artificial Respiration:
  8. Qualified instructors or officials promptly apply artificial respiration, preventing prolonged hypoxia.

Historical Safety Record:

Since the inception of Judo in 1882, no deaths directly attributed to choking have been reported. The absence of fatalities is attributed to supervision, contestant submission, natural recovery, and immediate artificial respiration.

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Dr. E.K. Koiwai’s Conclusion:

The author concludes that Shime Wasa in Judo is considered safe based on historical statistics and scientific studies, revealing no deleterious after effects. The precautionary rules and methods make choking a relatively safe technique for subduing opponents in competition.

To me the key word in the above article is “relatively”. I say this because the E.K Koiwai M.D. provides another report in the same website called "Deaths Allegedly Caused by the Use of Choke Holds by E.K. Koiwai, M.D.. Which explores the safety of choke holds (shime-waza) in judo and their application by law enforcement officers. The author argues that when properly applied, choke holds should not result in fatalities and are meant to subdue violent suspects. The study reviews 14 fatalities allegedly caused by choke holds, contrasting them with judo practices where no deaths have been reported since 1882. The cases involve law enforcement incidents, detailing causes of death such as asphyxiation and cardiorespiratory arrest. The author suggests proper training and supervision by certified judo instructors to reduce fatalities related to choke holds

A very useful article titled, “Emergency Care for Chokeholds by John Boulay”, the author not only gives some very useful diagrams of the physiology of the neck but give some good solid advice on how to manage an emergency situation occurring from someone being strangled. It is well worth the read.

So Yes Is Judo Shime Wasa is Safe With Some Caveats

With proper training and supervision by certified judo instructors, choke and strangle holds, are relatively safe. However it is important to understanding anatomical structures and apply only the amount of pressure necessary to bring about a submission. Judokas and referees alike need to recognise unconsciousness promptly, and implementing proper resuscitation methods straight away if required. The call for revising police training manuals aligns with judo principles that have safeguarded against fatalities in the sport for over a century. The conclusion underscores the potential reduction in fatalities through adherence to these principles in law enforcement practices involving choke holds.

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