Hadakajime - Air or Blood Choke?


A question that I'd like to have everyone ponder here is: "Is Hadakajime an "Air" choke, or a "Blood" choke."?

Or, perhaps even more basic than this, are there more than one 'category' of chokes in Judo? There are those who believe that Judo teaches only "Blood" chokes, and has no other category. In the following, I will attempt to show that there are actually three types of chokes.

1. "Blood" chokes - This isn't a controversial category at all. You cannot be a practicing Judoka over the age of 13 without becoming familiar with this category!

2. "Air" chokes - chokes that attempt to stop the breathing. As more closely detailed below, this choke in actual practice is generally effective due to the pain & panic involved, and not the actual cutoff of breathing.

3. "Combination" chokes - Those chokes which don't rely on either of the two above, but is rather a combination of the above two categories.

There are many Judoka who don't believe that categories 2 and 3 exist in Judo. It is my hope that after reading the resources listed below, those that hold this opinion will be swayed to look more closely into the subject.

In the following text I have quoted all the references that I have access to that relate to this subject. When looking through various Judo books, the description of Hadakajime is often similar to: "Put right arm around throat, clasping left hand... apply pressure." Well, quite obviously something similar to that will not be useful in determining whether Hadakajime has historically been taught as an "Air" choke, or a "Blood" choke. The following are only the ones (that I have access to) where the text is clear. In many other references the pictures make clear what the text does not (Such as Canon of Judo by Mifune)


Kodokan Judo by Jigoro Kano

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"Kneel on the ball of your left foot behind your seated opponent. Your right knee should be just outside his right side. Put your right arm around his neck and bring the inside of your mid-forearm or the thumb side of your wrist up against it. Clasp your hands, left palm up, near his left shoulder. Put the right side of your head against the left side of his, and press his head toward your right arm. At the same time, pull him off balance to his back and pull hard against his windpipe with your right arm."(Pg. 120)


Comments: This appears fairly straightforward, and would appear to demonstrate an "Air" choke. Notice the reference to the windpipe.

Canon of Judo by Kyuzo Mifune

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"This is to wring up the opponent's throat without touching the clothes. Either in the standing or in the lying trick, this is to bring the opponent to the state of suspended animation by wringing the throat, making him incline backward and breaking his balance in athe most natural way."(Pg. 136)

Comment: Those of you who are lucky enough to own a copy of "Canon of Judo" are probably just as frustrated as I am at the extremely poor translation. I listed the above paragraph just to give the 'flavor' of the translation. To the point in this discussion however, is the ending sentence in his description of 'Mae Hadakajime'. Although Mae Hadakajime is a variation, and not the exact choke under discussion, it is only a variation, and not an entirely different choke:

"Then wring the throat as mentioned before, and his breathing will stop at once."(Pg. 137)

Comment: Even as poor as the translation is... Mifune is distinctly discussing the stopping of uke's breathing.

Dynamic Judo by Kazuzo Kudo

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"The way you get a strangle on your opponent's neck depends on the type of technique you use: 1. In some you get your hold only on his windpipe. 2. In others you apply pressure to both the windpipe and to the carotid artery. 3. In still others you apply pressure to the carotid artery and the jugular vein."(Pg. 78)


Comments: This clearly indicates the 2 major forms of chokes, 'air' and 'blood', and also discusses the combination of the two types. Solid evidence for my position.

"In none of the strangles should you cause your opponent pain, but a strangle hold is not a real strangle unless your opponent suddenly finds himself being asphyxiated."

Comments: As a *general* rule, this is certainly accurate. Chokes that deprive the brain of oxygenated blood ("Blood" chokes), certainly should be for the most part completely painless. Chokes that cut off the air supply however, cannot be. Kudo specified a category of chokes that puts pressure on the windpipe... and there is simply no way to apply pressure to the windpipe that is painless.

"The name of this technique, literally naked strangle, indicates that you make no use of your opponent's training suit, but strangle him by joining your own two hands together and applying pressure to his throat."(Pg. 91)

Shimewaza by Katsuhiko Kashiwazaki

"Ju-jitsu shimewaza attacked three major points where the oxygen supply could be blocked: the neck, the diaphragm, and the face. Standing strangles were rarely employed because the opponent's hands were then free to hinder the effective shime attack. The shimewaza to the neck had three purposes: to stop the air supply; to block the carotid artery; and to break the neckbone."(Pg. 12)

Comments: This quote is only given because it is referred to in the quote below. This quote comes from a chapter entitled "A History of Shimewaza".

"There are two kinds of shimewaza. One stops the blood supply, while the other stops the air supply. As already mentioned in the chapter on the history of shimewaza, the ju-jitsu tradition regarded the smothering of the face being just as much a shimewaza as is an attack on the neck. But judo rules disallow this kind of shimewaza. It is, frankly, difficult to choke an opponent by depressing the trachea because the air tube is large. It is also quite well protected. All that generally happens is that the Adam's apple is pushed back in the throat which is painful, but not lethal. It can, however, be effective from time to time - especially against the unaware. This is one reason why hadakajime is not seen very often at the top level of competition, though in randori it can still spring a surprise, particularly in combination with something else. A second reason is that the opportunities for it are relatively few. It is quite easy just to push the chin down to the chest to prevent a direct entry; and the defender can also use his hands to block. It is a classic situation of two hands versus two hands, and tori has to be inventive to get past the defence. The best way is often to immobilise one or both of the hands.(Pg. 56)

Comments: Kashiwazaki clearly indicates that there are two types of chokes in Judo... and clearly places Hadakajime in the "Air" category.

Article by Dr. Koiwai (available on the net)

Dr. Koiwai's Full Article

"Basically, except for one form of shime-waza, hadaka-jime, the pressure is applied to the lateral side of the neck which the anatomists call the "carotid triangle". This triangle is formed by the midline, anteriorly (front) from the apex of the chin to the upper part of the sternum (breast bone), superiorly (above) by the line formed by the lower border of the mandible (lower jaw bone) and posteriorly (behind) by the anterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle (strap muscle between the clavicle and to the bone of the skull behind the ear). In the center of this triangle are the jugular veins, carotid artery and its branches and the carotid sinus. No strong muscle protects this area. The pressure is applied in a certain manner, depending upon the technique, directly on these structures. It may be the fist or the collar of the judogi. Very often it is the pressure of the distal end of the radius and the wrist which compresses the soft structures of the neck. Until the above named structures are sufficiently compressed the choke will not be effective. The neophyte may submit not because of the choke but because of the fear of being choked or the pain produced by improper choking methods. Hadaka-jime differs from other forms since part of the pressure is also applied to the larynx and trachea which is extremely painful and the player will usually submit before unconsciousness intervenes."

Comments: Quite clearly explicit that there are two types of chokes - and which one Hadakajime is.

Judo Principles - Newaza by Anton Geesink

"To do this I force uke's head diagonally to the right front, so that the sharp part of my right forearm presses against uke's throat in such a manner that his breath is cut off."(Pg. 90)

Comments: Anton Geesink has a clear opinion here.

Judo Formal Techniques by Otaki & Draeger

Click Here to Enlarge "Focus your body power with a squeezing action into both sides of Uke's trapped neck; use your right arm and the right side of your head to effect the squeeze while Uke is off balance backward. Think of your right arm as a huge nutcracker, with Uke's neck as the nut. If you have positioned your right arm correctly, you will be able to bring the inner edge of your right wrist against the left front of Uke's neck, where pressure will shut off the blood flow in his jugular vein; on the right side of Uke's neck, your upper right arm similarly affects his carotid artery. Do not merely crush his Adam's apple."(Pg. 336)

Comments: Otaki & Draeger are apparently the only authoritative source which teaches Hadakajime as a "Blood" choke. Although recognising that it can easily fall into the "combination" camp (Notice the last sentence - a clear implication that the windpipe is being crushed.), it's clearly taught as a "Blood" choke in this reference.

The Manual of Judo by E.J. Harrison

"Pass your left hand and arm over his left shoulder and across his throat in front with the thumb edge of your wrist against it and cup the palm of that hand in the upturned palm of your right hand near his right shoulder. Then with th eleft side of your head press strongly against the right side of his head and simultaneously pull hard with your right hand clasping your left so that the sustained twofold pressure on his windpipe and against his head speedily reduces him to submission."(Pg. 135)

Comments: Some people have put forth the theory that Hadakajime 'turned into' an "Air" choke when Judo began participating in the Olympics. Dating as it does from 1952, this one reference appears to undercut this theory that Hadakajime done as an "Air" choke does not predate 1964. And once again, this reference is clearly of the "Air" choke type, as it specifically mentions the pressure on the windpipe.

The Judo Textbook by Hayward Nishioka & James West

"Choking methods are of two sorts. By applying pressure to the trachea of an opponent, you can cut off the oxygen supply to his lungs. The second method applies pressure to the carotid arteries, denying a blood supply to the brain. Of these, the latter technique is perhaps the more humane in that it is not as painful as applying pressure to the trachea."(Pg. 107)

Comments: Clearly expresses the idea of two types of chokes.

Secrets of Judo by Jiichi Watanabe & Lindy Avakian

"... apply pressure with the left radius part of your wrist against the front of his neck... The synchronized operation of these two forces results in simultaneous pressure against the carotid arteries and the windpipe."(Pg. 172)

Comments: Clearly in the 'combination' camp. Again, specifically mentions the pressure against the trachea.

Basic Judo by E.G. Bartlett

"Some judo strangleholds have as their object constriction of the windpipe to restrict breathing, while the purpose of others is to constrict the carotid arteries and by so restricting the flow of blood to the brain to cause loss of consciousness."(Pg. 56)

"From the practice position on one knee behind him, pass your right arm over your partner's right shoulder, with the forearm across the front of his throat and the bony edge of the thumb side in contact with his throat. Pass your left hand over his left shoulder and, with fingers uppermost and the thumb underneath, catch your own right wrist. The back of your right hand is uppermost. Pull back on your right wrist with your left hand to exert pressure against the front of his throat. At the same time, put your right shoulder behind his head and push it forwards to prevent him relieving the pressure by bringing his head back. This constricts the windpipe and is painful."(Pg. 59)

Comments: Again, clearly demonstrating my position that there are two types of chokes. In the book, this was called 'Ushirojime', but it is clearly 'Hadakajime' by another name.

Judo from the Beginning by Phil Porter

"A Judo choke consists of holding the opponent's head and neck still while one arm presses against the front or side of his neck to cut off the supply of (1) air to the lungs, or (2) blood to the brain."(pg. 90)

Comments: Can't be much more clear than this.

My Method of Judo by Kawaishi

"The OBJECT of the STRANGULATIONS is to cause the victim to lose consciousness: either by compressing the CAROTID ARTERIES from either side of the neck, under the maxillaries and appreciably in the vertical line of the ears, which prevents the irrigation of the brain, and this is the SANGUINEOUS STRANGULATION; or by pressing on the TRACHEA or WINDPIPE in front of the neck, from the Adam's apple to the summit of the sternum, which prevents renewal of Oxygen of the blood and brings about asphyxia, and this is RESPIRATORY STRANGULATION. There is also a NERVOUS form of strangulation which completes the preceding two, but into details of which it is impossible to enter here."(pg 132)

Comments: It seems heartless to point out that according to Kawaishi, there are both "Air" and "Blood" chokes.

Kodokan Judo by Hikoichi Aida - Translated by E.J. Harrison

(Note: Although the title is the same, this is NOT the more famous 'Kodokan Judo' by Kano). Although this book has no 'published' date, Robert Smith's 'A Bibliography of Judo' lists this book as being published in 1956.)

"Attention: The inner bone (? radius) of the two bones of the right forearm passed round your opponent's neck is applied to his throat and crushes his trachea or windpipe from the direct front."(Pg. 210)

Comment: Seems fairly clear here...

My Study of Judo" by G. Koizumi.

"The objective of Shime-Waza is to effect a comotose state on the opponent. Technically is is to apply pressure to the opponent's neck to prevent the blood circulation to the brain, or to squeeze the throat or chest to subdue the normal breathing. This can be done by using the jacket, wrists, arms or legs. The former if applied correctly takes effect within a few seconds without undue discomfort to the opponent; the latter a few minutes with much discomfort...."(Pg. 110)

"... To prevent the breathing, the pressure should be applied at the front of the throat or on the floating ribs."

Comments: Once again, another very clear reference describing two different categories of chokes...