JITscienZe: The science inside the Rear Naked Choke.

| January 13, 2016 | 0 Comments



Hello again, and welcome to the first edition of JITscienZe: The internal world of how your body reacts to submissions and chokes you’ve been put into or have applied to someone.
Knowing what happens to someone is very important in the sport. Simply knowing that pressure is applied to a joint simply isn’t enough in the evolving stages of the sport. Now the biological sciences are coming into major play due to prolonged injuries and the world of sports commentation releasing a more scientific explaination to the masses that some may not have experience in.

Well, now your in the right place.

Over the course of 2016, I will be completing two to three articles monthly on the top 50 submission used in BJJ, and the affects they have on the body. There will be a lot of information, both related to BJJ itself, physical and mental sciences, and the internal show I will present that gives you the inside perspective of what happens to your body when you get stuck in a Triangle, Armbar, OmaPlata, etc.


Today, the rear naked choke.

The carotid arteries are major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck, and face. There are two carotid arteries, one on the right and one on the left. In the neck, each carotid artery branches into two divisions:

  • The internal carotid artery supplies blood to the brain.
  • The external carotid artery supplies blood to the face and neck.


To understand what happens when the rear naked choke is correctly applied, we need some basic anatomical definitions: Seen here is the cervical area of the body, or more commonly known as the neck anatomy



Carotid body: Important regulator of blood pressure at the bifurcation of the common carotid into the internal and external carotid arteries.

Common carotid: Artery that is the target of the RNC, encased in the carotid sheath and running alongside the vagus nerve and jugular vein underneath the sternocleidomastoid. Primary source of blood to the brain.

Jugular vein: Large vein of the neck.

Paired vertebral arteries: Arteries running alongside the cervical spine in the back of the neck, which also provide blood to the brain.

Trachea: Windpipe.

Thyroid cartilage: Adam’s apple.

Vagus nerves: A pair of nerves originating at the brainstem and running up the head.

Yes, these are quite the mouthful of words, and as in all sciences, there are some doozies out there that some people can’t even pronounce. Don’t worry about it. Shit happens. These are the major points of science that need to be understood to empathize the RNC.

The carotid arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the head, brain and face.   They are located on each side of the neck.  You can easily feel them by placing your fingers gently either side of your windpipe.

The carotid arteries supply essential oxygenated blood to the large front part of the brain. This part of the brain controls thought, speech, personality as well as our sensory (our ability to feel) and motor (our ability to move) functions.

Application of the RNC first causes compression of the jugular vein, significantly hindering blood return from the head (and brain) to the heart. The recipient begins to feel flushed – engorged in the face and brow. Further pressure narrows the carotids and reduces the blood flow to the brain.20130416210932-catch-a-rear-naked-choke-submission-in-bjj-sparrin


 The rear naked choke is a “blood choke ([one of] those that impede blood flow from the heart to the brain),” via use of your biceps and Radius bone, as opposed to an “asphyxia choke (those that obstruct airflow, commonly by way of windpipe compression).

The Short Choke, or Radius wrist choke.

Asphyxia is defined as a condition arising when the body is deprived of oxygen, causing unconsciousness or death; suffocation, (As shown in the next picture).

The Monoplata.


The windpipe or Trachea is the air passage from the throat to the lungs. Collapse that together, and you now have: An Asphyxia choke.

The beginning of the paper cutter choke


An Asphyxia choke can be created using what is known as the short choke, or in GI BJJ, a paper cutter choke, baseball choke, Guillotine (depending on the application), and gogoplata/monoplata. There are more, but I want to keep to the basics.


The baseball choke, The 2 in 1 mother of all chokes in my opinion.


Imagine yourself underwater about 3″ from the surface. Between you and free air is a sheet of ice that you can’t break thru. What happens? Natural instinct to survive kicks into your body and you instantly produce large amounts of testosterone. You panic, your mind races, your pulse increases, your heart rate rises, and your muscles begin to tense and look for the quickest and easiest way to get what it needs: Submission of the mind. (I will get into the Fight or Flight reflex later in the year); or in BJJ terms, for smart practitioners, the tap out, the way to say “Ok, you’ve got me, you win, please give me back the oxygen my body so anxiously desires.

Thanks for taking the time to learn some science.




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Category: Fireside Chat, J3 "Just Jiu Jitsu"

About the Author ()

I'm a born and raised New Englander, I've been around the MMA and BJJ circuits for years dating back to 2005. A Maine native, BJJ brown belt, and ABC certified MMA referee. I'm a grammatical nightmare but hey, you'll get the point. Being a dump truck physically and a blunt object mentally allows me to see the finer points within the sport of BJJ, without being compromised via politics, biased, racism, sexism or negativity. I've been around the country, as a medic, referee, setup crew, breakdown crew, driver, and everything in between that a promotion has needed in order to gain the inside intel on today's world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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