Choke Holds and Trust

The sensation I experience right before blacking out to a choke hold is hard to describe to somebody that hasn’t been there. It’s a curious mix between rushed panic and detached serenity. I like to imagine my body’s survival instinct is dumping its last vestiges of adrenaline to keeping me conscious while simultaneously releasing a merciful cocktail of endorphins to calm me in my final moments of impending doom.

Having consciousness, life, stripped from me at the hands of another person isn’t desirable! I try to avoid it at all costs. My survival instinct tells me to do exactly that, as the consequences of being choked unconscious can be dire. Yet, I willingly subject myself to exactly that several times per week while training jiujitsu.

I willingly risk life and limb every time I step on the mat. To me, however, there’s really no risk. I trust my training partners. I have to! From day one, in jiujitsu, I had to find a way to be okay with the idea that the guy I’m competing against could easily cause catastrophic joint damage, choke me unconscious, or even potentially kill me. But, I know the guys I train with aren’t going to do this. In fact, this wasn’t really even that much of a hurdle to get over from day one. By and large, the culture of jiujitsu is a kind, easy going, open, friendly one. That culture attracts kind, easy going, open, friendly people. People that are easy to trust.

Jiujitsu builds strong friendships through accelerated trust. It’s the jiujitsu habitus.