How To Get Over Choke Phobia In Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu-Jitsu is a challenging sport. If you aren’t careful or well-trained, BJJ will hurt and even injure you.

In Jiu-Jitsu, there are two primary forms of submissions — joint locks and chokeholds. 

Most newcomers get caught in chokeholds as they often leave their necks for grabs during sparring or drills. If you have choke phobia, you might become even more warry of this type of submission while practicing Jiu-Jitsu.

Choke phobia shouldn’t cripple your entire Jiu-Jitsu aspirations, though. You can easily overcome this issue with the proper training, mindset, and techniques.

Let’s talk about how to get over choke phobia in Jiu-Jitsu.

What Is Choke Phobia In BJJ?

How To Get Over Choke Phobia In Jiu-Jitsu

To put it simply, choke phobia is the fear of choking. It can also be accompanied by an adverse fear of swallowing pills, solid foods, and more. 

One doesn’t have to go through a related traumatizing event to get choke phobia. Some people are innately scared of choking.

Some people develop choke phobia from a traumatizing event. For instance, it can be after they choked on food when they were young. 

However, It can also develop while practicing Jiu-Jitsu. In some cases, newcomers that get accidentally choked out develop a slight phobia.

In a sport where choking your opponent is one way to win, having choke phobia in Jiu-Jitsu can be very concerning. It can affect your performance, and it can also make you careless on the mats.

trauma vs. being nervous

If you have an intense phobia that isn’t related to BJJ but traumatic events from your past, your best shot at getting better is with professional psychological help.

On the other hand, if you’re experiencing slight discomfort because BJJ is a new adventure that you’re not comfortable with, we have some tips for you.

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Chokes In Jiu-Jitsu Explained For Beginners 

In Jiu-Jitsu, some common chokes are: 

  • Rear-naked choke.
  • Guillotine.
  • Bow and arrow choke.
  • Triangle choke.
  • D’arce choke.
  • Anaconda choke.

What most BJJ beginners don’t know is that there are two main types of chokes in the game — blood chokes and air-blocking chokes.

Air Blocking Jiu-Jitsu Chokes

Air chokes are also called tracheal chokes. That’s because the primary purpose is to squeeze the trachea from the neck to prevent the opponent from breathing properly. Tracheal chokes are easier to pull off, but they require more strength.

Air chokes are terrifying for people with choke phobia as they simulate what it’s like to choke. 

Common air chokes include the Gogoplata, Ezekiel choke, and the guillotine. 

It’s worth noting that if the guillotine is executed from the closed guard, it becomes a blood choke.

Blood Flow Blocking BJJ Chokes

Blood chokes essentially cut off blood flow and not air. This type of choke puts high pressure on the neck’s carotid artery, preventing oxygenated blood from going to your brain. 

Blood chokes don’t simulate the sensation of choking as air chokes, though.

Instead, those that get into blood chokes feel light-headed. In a short time, you can pass out without recollection of what’s happening. 

While blood chokes are harder to pull off, they are often more effective than air chokes. They also require less strength.

Common blood chokes include triangle, bow and arrow, and rear-naked chokes.

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Tips For Getting Over Choke Phobia In Jiu-Jitsu

Not Getting Better At BJJ - Tips To Improve

First, you must understand the nature of chokes in Jiu-Jitsu if you wish to get over your choke phobia. 

With that out of the way, let’s talk about a few tips on how you can get over it.

Drill Choke Escapes As Much As Possible

This might seem counterintuitive, but drilling choke escapes as much as possible is vital for two reasons.

The first reason, and most important, is that it helps you understand the basics of escapes. Once you become a master of choke escapes, your fear of getting put in one will be a lot less than it is.

Additionally, practicing escapes over and over again will allow you to become more acquainted with the feeling of being choked. 

It’s getting used to choking at your own pace. If you feel you’ve reached your limit, you can simply tell your drilling partner to ease up on the pressure.

In truth, there is very little muscle tissue that’s protecting your trachea or carotid from chokes. Strengthening your neck muscles does almost nothing to prevent chokes.

Developing your techniques is more important than neck strength and conditioning to prevent getting caught in chokes.

Tuck Your Chin

Tucking your chin is just as effective in Jiu-Jitsu as in Boxing. In Boxing, tucking your chin means avoiding getting knocked out. 

In Jiu-Jitsu, tucking your chin means less space for your opponent’s hands to get into when attempting a choke.

Newcomers to the BJJ game often leave their neck exposed when going for a takedown or when trying to escape from the guard.

When going for a takedown, press your head as hard on your opponent as possible and keep your shoulders high to lessen the space.

The more confident you are about keeping your neck safe, the less worried you’ll be about choke phobia.

Take Full Advantage Of Open Mat Sessions

Almost all BJJ classes end in an open mat session. You’re free to spar with anyone in the class. Unlike in competition, you don’t need to worry about losing here.

You should take full advantage of open mat sessions. Get into as many choke submissions as you can. Instead of tapping out, try to hold it for as long as possible without losing consciousness and putting yourself at risk.

Repetition and exposure to chokes are one way of making yourself more comfortable with them.

Accept That You’re Going To Get Choked

Getting choked is going to be a part of your BJJ journey. It doesn’t sound easy, but understanding that it’s unavoidable will help immensely.

If you have the time and body for it, consider going to a sports psychologist first. 

These professionals can help you overcome issues such as cage fright and, of course, BJJ choke phobia. 

Choke phobia is not common, and it’s even rarer to find BJJ and MMA athletes suffering from it. 

The good news is that you don’t have to live your BJJ journey with it. With the tips above, you can get over your choke phobia eventually.

How To Get Over Choke Phobia In Jiu-Jitsu – Final Thoughts

Choke phobia might be a common fear among BJJ beginners. The good news is that it’s usually overcome by starting a few basic drills and practicing them repeatedly.

Before you consider going to a sports psychologist — which is also an option — try to go through the basic tips on overcoming BJJ choke phobia by yourself.

Furthermore, ensure you’re comfortable with the feeling of getting choked, so you don’t get too nervous during sparring sessions or tournaments.

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Take care!

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