In fact for a manual strangulation where the attacker just uses their own hands you have between 7 and 14 seconds, depending on how hard the attacker can compress your trachea. With a blood choke hold in which the emphasis is on compressing the carotid arteries that run up the side of the neck, you only have 3 to 5 seconds! This is scary stuff. Since the majority of strangulations are performed on women by men (it's extremely unlikely that a woman can manually strangle a man) it's important that us women know how to respond quickly and effectively.
So what should we do? One of the things that Sensei has taught us is to turn the head to the side and put the chin down. The effect of this is to move your trachea from under this thumbs to the palm of his hand and thus release some of the pressure - this may buy you a few more seconds. You can actually demonstrate this on yourself: if you put the fingers of your right hand around the back of your neck with the palm on the left side of your neck so that your right thumb is over your trachea and press slightly, then turn your head to the left, you will feel your trachea move from under your thumb. Now, how easy it would be to move your head if someone is squeezing your neck very tightly I don't know but it's got to be worth a try.
Having bought yourself a few extra seconds, I would argue that you now need to apply the K.I.S.S. No I don't mean kiss him, I mean Keep It Simple Stupid! I do not think this is the time to try applying fancy, fiddly locks or doing other overcomplicated moves - especially not at my stage of training. I would favour moves that cause him to loosen his grip and unbalance him. Lifting your arm up and smashing your elbow down on his arm works quite well for loosening a stranglehold as does stepping backwards and downwards with one leg and turning sideways - this will unbalance him at the same time. If you still can't run away at this point then I would choose techniques that are powerful and quick to execute like elbow strikes to the head, palm heel strikes to the jaw, kicks to the groin or pushing thumbs into the eyes. Make a lot of noise while you are doing this - this is not the time to be shy about kiaiing - you may attract attention, startle him a little, protect yourself from further blows from him and increase the power in your own strikes.
here are some videos of women's self defense against strangles:
I think the important thing is to discover what is effective against the attacker and is easy and memorable for you to execute, we're all different, find what works for you, you've only got seconds.....
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