The Subtle Art of Choking Someone the F*ck Out


It’s 1989. You’re Patrick Swayze. A local drunk asshole just picked a fight with you. He’s seen Road House and knows all your best moves ... or so he thinks. Illustration by Justin Crain.

Illustration by Justin Crain.

It’s 1989. You’re Patrick Swayze. Exhausted after a long day of being handsome as fuck and making sure nobody puts baby in a corner, you’ve taken to a local watering hole to unwind with a drink.

Impossibly humble, you’re completely unaware of the fact that every man, woman, and child in America saw your latest movie, Road House, and feverishly studied every martial arts move in the flick so that one day they too might rip someone’s throat out in a cinematic act of blatant but righteous murder.

As you sit at the bar minding your own highly photogenic business, a drunk asshole in a down vest and trucker hat stumbles into you, spilling your beer. Now, you being Patrick Swayze, this isn’t that big of a deal to you, but when the burly jerk turns and shouts that only pussies drink Busch Light and Steel Dawn failed to perform well at the box office, you take offense.

It was a limited release on only 290 screens nationwide, damn it!

You jump to your feet and assume the same Kentucky-kwondo fighting stance Dalton took in Road House. The burly trucker smiles as you launch a half-stretched spinning back kick, which he blocks with a mere shrug. And that’s bad because it’s 95% of your ass-kickin’ arsenal.

You desperately throw a looping hook easier to see than the fact that Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself before attempting a quick throat rip.

And that also doesn’t work. So your ass is in a tight spot, Patrick Swayze.

Seeing no other option, you perform a quick Mississippi-meditation seance to channel Sam Elliott, your mentor. In his smooth but gravelly rumble of a voice, he urges you to hit the trucker with something he hasn’t seen before. It’s quick and effective, and it stands a slightly lower chance of landing you a murder-1 charge.

Sam Elliott rasp-whispers, “Rear naked choke.”

Before we get started, understand that chokeholds can result in serious injury or death. If you’re going to choke someone, please consult a legitimate instructor in the dark art of choking, like we did.

Don’t consult Sam Elliott. He’s an actor and probably doesn’t know how to fight. With a voice like that, why would you ever have to?

Despite its vaguely sexy name, the rear naked choke is a martial arts technique that’s often wielded by MMA fighters, the military, and ninjas. Josh Cole, a Brazilian jiujitsu black belt, competitive grappler, and lead instructor at Marietta Combat Sports, not only routinely uses the move, but he teaches it to his student ninjas. When asked whether he ever taught it to Swayze, he said, “No comment.”

Cole says you begin the move by standing behind your assailant. Drape your right arm over your opponent’s right shoulder, and then place it around his neck. Your right bicep should be touching the right side of his neck. Your right forearm needs to run along the left side of his neck.

Make sure the elbow of your strangling arm is centered on his chest, under his chin. Keep your head to the left of his big stupid drunk skull. Put your right ear on his left ear.

It should take 10 seconds — just enough time for you to smile at the gathering crowd and glower at the barkeep in the corner, where you didn’t put him.

Now, slide your left hand to the back of your opponent’s neck, without moving your noggin. With all four fingers and the thumb of your right hand, grab the top of your left bicep without ever loosening the chokehold.

Make a fist with your left hand and drive it downward, toward your right shoulder. Your knuckles should face the back of your opponent’s head.

Use your chest to push into his back. Flex your back muscles to pull your elbows in and up. That will tighten the chokehold. Draw your right elbow backward, pushing your right forearm and bicep into the sides of his neck.

This choke constricts blood vessels, not the airway. If you apply the hold properly, any enemy too drunk or stupid to tap out will be left unconscious.

It should take 10 seconds — just enough time for you to casually smile at the gathering crowd and glower at the barkeep in the corner, where you didn’t put him.

“People who want to have a good time won’t come to a slaughterhouse, and we’ve got too many troublemakers here,” you tell him. “Too many 40-year-old adolescents, felons, power drinkers, and trustees of modern chemistry. And that’s gonna change.”

This article first appeared in the Summer 2022 print edition of The Forward Observer, a special publication from Coffee or Die Magazine.

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Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.
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