Re: Why don't we practice chokes?
Reading Keith's referred article reminded me of a conversation I had a couple of years ago with Dr. Vincent DeMaio at a police conference on in-custody deaths. After reading a number of articles that suggested "choking out" an individual is life-threatening in all cases, I asked him specifically about the classic judo or police carotid restraint technique. As the article suggested, Dr. DeMaio told me that there was no recorded death related to the use of the judo technique in the sport, nor was there any documented death in police training.
I've been "choked out" in training on a number of occasions, both in police defensive tactics classes and on the mat with judo and BJJ players. The experience was exactly like going unconscious under high G forces in an aircraft (I once got to fly the backseat of an F-18 with the Blue Angels and I start going out at 5.9 G and I'm toast at 6.1 G). My vision starts to become tunnel vision and dark, and few seconds or less later, I'm happily napping away. When I recover I am lost for a few seconds and have no idea where I am or how I got there. I haven't found it to be unpleasant except for the sense of disorientation immediately upon recovery.
I don't feel the need to go out anymore and I will tap once the technique is firmly and properly applied. If I'm a little slow in tapping, I might start feeling the tunnel vision coming on. The best and most effective applications I've experienced were indeed snakelike and quite gentle.
I've used the carotid restraint a number of times on the street with violent suspects and it has never failed me and has never resulted in a suspect injury. On one occasion the carotid restraint literally saved my life. It is a good tool and I truly believe aikido folks should learn the technique, if nothing else in order to learn how to defend against it.