How Bad Is It To Get Choked Unconscious In Jiu-Jitsu?

How Bad Is It To Get Choked Unconscious In Jiu-Jitsu?

If you train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, chances are that you’ll be, probably more than once, (almost) choked unconscious… But how safe is this?

How safe is it to suffer syncope in this way – that is, how bad is it to get choked unconscious in BJJ?

Mike Piekarski, physical therapist, shared the findings of one study on this topic.
The study asked the participants to share their experiences with being put to sleep. Here’s what the results said:

  • 94.8% of participants who were choked to near syncope (almost went unconscious) had no lingering effects.
  • 77.6% of participants who were choked unconscious had no lingering effects.
    • A majority of symptoms resolved within 1 to 60 minutes. Most common symptoms were incoordination or tingling.

The majority of athletes almost got put to sleep.
But even those whose symptoms didn’t disappear immediately, still saw them disappear fast:

  • 93.4% of subjects choke to near syncope
  • 96.2% of subjects choked unconscious had full symptom resolution within 24 hours.

Just a small number of participants had symptoms that lasted for more than one day:

  • 0.05% of subjects reported ongoing symptoms from chokes (>24 hours after the incident).
    This includes a thyroid cartilage injury and an exacerbation of auras related to the subject’s history of migraines.

All in all, the author concludes that – according to this data – getting choked out unconscious in Jiu-Jitsu appears to be safe:

Based on a convenience sample of 4307 respondents’ self-reported data, sportive choking appears to be safe. Only 0.05% experienced ongoing symptoms, which were likely not related to brain ischemia.

However, athletes should still be careful, as Piekarski emphasizes:

While the technique of choking appears to be safe, I would still advise Jiu-Jitsu practitioners to tap when they are unable to escape.

The sample size of this study was not large (4307 subjects) and further research on this topic should be performed.

The long term effect of being repetitively choked unconscious is still unknown.