Full Nelson/choke hold

Is the “full nelson” the I learned in high school wrestling the same thing as the controversial chokehold?

Did the full nelson that you learned in high school involve putting your arm around your opponents throat?

Did it look like this

or this?

Also, I don’t know wrestling all that well, but do any of the nelson holds put your arm(s) over your opponent’s shoulder(s) or do they all go under?

I’m virtually certain that the full nelson is properly the upper photo. The lower photo is a technique I learned in Judo that can render someone unconscious in just a few seconds, like 10 or less. I don’t think that lower photo is a technique that is legal in amateur wrestling.

The only other Nelson move I know is the half nelson, where you have one arm under the armpit and over the neck, useful to turn over your opponent.

The top one is the full nelson.

FWIW when I wrestled in high school it wasn’t allowed. Half only.

I should quickly clarify that the bottom picture wasn’t meant to also be a full nelson. I’m more curious about what the OP believes a full nelson is. Like I said, I don’t know wrestling all that well, but I didn’t think a choke hold and a full nelson would be conflated.

They do pretend to do the bottom one a lot in pro wrestling, but they wouldn’t call it a nelson there either.

I thought the second picture represented the full Nelson, but I now think I have been wrong. Thanks for the replies guys

The bottom photo shows a rear naked choke hold.

Also used to be referred to as a “sleeper hold”, because it puts you out so fast. If you really need it for minutes on end, you’re doing it wrong.

Right. It can be done as just a choke hold but it also applies pressure on the carotid arteries to cut off the blood supply to the brain while maintaining control of the subject.

I’m glad that for demonstration purposes the participants are fully clothed.


The full nelson is not a legal move in either amateur wrestling or UFC due to the possibility of spinal cord injuries. It doesn’t look bad in the demonstration but in a fight if you go down to the ground with your head in that position you could break your neck.

The rear naked choke is illegal in amateur wrestling but legal in the UFC. The ref ends the fight very quickly when it’s applied.

Interestingly, there is also a quarter nelson and a three-quarter nelson.

I don’t believe that there is a 9/16 nelson.

Also, back when I rassled, a full was not allowed but a half was.


The chokehold also has a very high risk of being lethal. There is no reliable way to knock someone unconscious without killing them.

If youy don’t know what you are doing, a choke hold like that can kill someone. It’s not like holding your breath - when you completely cut off the blood flow, the brain dies pretty quickly. More than one bouncer or cop has accidentally killed someone by holding them in a choke hold too long. A bouncer in my city did it twice.

And even if you do it right, it can induce cardiac issues including heart attacks. Probably not in a young healthy fighter, but in someone with a pre-existing condition, fat, out of shape, etc.

Edit: Ninja’d

The naked choke hold - Hadake Jimi - in Judo isn’t a choke. It is a strangle. But the words get used imprecisely and meanings lost in translation. Chokes are actually illegal in Judo. Possibly because they can cause injury to the trachea or larynx, whereas a strangle is directed at the carotid artery and very hard to cause actual injury with. You can fight the effects of a choke for quite some time. A strangle applied well takes a few seconds at most to take effect. It is not uncommon for judoka to report, upon reviving, that they never felt it take effect. They just went straight out.

Judo is unusual in the martial arts in that the rules have been framed by taking traditional martial arts and removing techniques that are intended to injure an opponent. Legal techniques are those that can be safely refereed to leave no lasting harm. Techniques left in the sport mean that opponents can fight at 100% commitment. You will be expected to fight in another round reasonably soon after if you won a round, so the entire sport is geared to reduce the risk of injury. At a competition you will either tap out of a strangle, or the moment you go unconscious the referee will stop the fight. You learn to know when you are beaten with a strangle technique and to tap out before the technique is fully applied. It is the bloody minded that push things to the point of passing out.

Ages ago I looked into deaths attributable to Judo. Other than things like heart attacks, the only death that could reasonably attributed to the art was a near Darwin Award episode where a coach told a very muscular new student to apply a strangle and wait. So the student did. The coach underestimated his own ability to react and avoid the technique. When the student finally realised that perhaps there was something wrong, it was too late.

Hadake Jimi is “naked” because it doesn’t require use of the opponent’s apparel in its application. Most Judo strangles (shime-wasa) need to be anchored by grasping part of the opponent’s clothing.

Hadake Jimi was a favourite of mine back when. Been on the receiving end a few times too.

In my high-school wrestling team, there were 3 full Nelsons on the team, and a step-son (called half Nelson). And a Swenson, an Olson, and an Anderson. Very Scandinavian area.

Reminds me of a horrible joke.

Sven Svenson & Olga Svenson are high school sweethearts in out-county Minnesota who are planning to get married. They visit the courthouse to apply for the paperwork. Noting their similar names, the clerk asks them if they’re relations?

She, embarrassed: Well … maybe once or twice. (with bad Swedish accent).


The full nelson is a neck crank submission. It can be used in catch wrestling but not high school.