You will often hear that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a completely safe way to practice self-defense. But is such truly the case? According to a recent article in the Journal of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery, utilization of certain choking techniques can cause early onset stroke.
I will detail some of the findings here but I encourage you to read the full peer reviewed study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5678212/
According to the study the Rear Naked Choke, or “Lion-Killer”, can cause Internal Carotid Dissection. The goal of this choke is to cut off the blood supply to the brain, rendering the opponent unconscious. Repeated damage to this area, or an extreme anomalous fracturing can cause internal blockage of blood getting to the brain thereby causing a stroke.
Although carotid artery dissection is implicated in only 2.5% of all strokes, it is among the leading causes of stroke in patients under 45 years old.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is still transitioning as a sport and has not been fully vetted in terms of injuries.
The case study involves a 27 year old BJJ practitioner who was previously healthy. He was presented to the emergency room with headache, right motor deficit, and aphasia, all commencing 16 hours earlier. The patient had experienced a bout of severe neck pain one week earlier while practicing a submission maneuver known as the Rear Naked Choke or Lion Killer, with persistent pain locally thereafter. No family history of arterial dissection, stroke, connective tissue disorders, or migraine was elicited.
I encourage you to read the case and the details!
I personally love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and this information is not going to dissuade me from training in anyway. I can assure you however that I am going to be wary and tap early (as we all should) when someone has secured a choke on me.
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