How difficult is the "villian choke"?

I’m sure we’ve all seen a movie where the main bad guy, to show his pussiance, grabs someone by the neck and picks them up off the floor. One hand is usual for maximum show-offiness. My question is: is this physically possible without patented Badguy powers?

Sure it is.

It only depends on the strength of the lifter and the weight of the liftee.

I have done it, with one hand. It was in a bar, I was on leave from the Army and the guy called my wife something he shouldn’t have. He went up it flailing like a fish out of water. Ah my drinking days, bad, bad, bad times.

Are you talking about just lifting him, or holding him there?

Average weight for an American male is around 175 pounds (79 kg). Try picking up a 175 pound weight from about chest or shoulder height and hold it out in front of you at slightly over head height with one arm. Heck take it to a 45 degree angle if you want. It’s badass (and pretty close to impossible for a normal human) because it takes enormous strength and the position doesn’t allow you to use your skeletal system to take the load. It’s all muscle, baby. Try it and see how difficult it is for you to do that. I doubt I could do more than 20-30 kg, and I’m in halfway decent shape.

More possible is a dynamic lift, where you’re basically using your arm as a way to transfer the energy of your moving body into his body. That way you’re using your mass, not just muscle strength. If you pin him up against the wall after “lifting” him then you just have to use a combination of arm strength and friction from pressing him up against the wall to keep him there. I doubt you could do that for very long though. I’ve hit someone hard enough to literally lift him and knock him off his feet when practicing strikes with a partner in martial arts class, so I would consider this to be difficult but not terribly so, depending on how big the guy is.

If you’re talking Agent Smith style lift and hold with no apparent strain or windup, then you’re in the realms of fantasy.

Darth Vader can do it too!

I agree with your take on it. There would have to be a large size discrepancy to pull it off (like an adult to a child). I think it much more likely as Sleel described where you use your momentum to lift the person and then pin them against a wall or something. No way you are keeping an adult at arm’s length off the ground with one hand.

Would a slight variation where you grab his shirtfront (or incredibly strong chest-hair if he’s a real macho guy) be easier?

Well in high school my football coach had played pro ball as a lineman back in the 50’s. Coach was HUGE I have seen him pick up 160 lb football players and throw them 10 feet with one hand. (fight on the field, coach went in to break it up. Coach would grab a player by whatever he could reach and toss them over his head and out of the fight. Funniest game film I ever saw.)
So depending on the size of the grabber and the size of the grabee it is possible

I’m kinda a short guy, 5’8, maybe 5’9 on a good day. But, I have hoisted a jackass 4-6" off the ground by his throat (with my non-dominant hand BTW). He was maybe 6’3 and really skinny.

If I tried to do the same feat today, there is no question that I would fail. There was quite a bit of adrenaline involved. The effect was awesome, he stopped harrassing my sister and stopped his physical taunts towards me. I thought he might cry.

So, to answer your OP, yes it can happen. The lifter needs to be somewhat strong, the liftee needs to be somewhat light. The guy I lifted was kind of pushed up against a table, probably giving me leverage. Adrenaline helps a lot as well.

A really strong guy can lift a really light guy by his throat. End of story. It is entirely possible.

In your example Rick the Coach wasn’t holding the player off the ground but throwing him, which is a different matter entirely. I’m not calling those who claim to have done it liars but I must ask; How long did you manage to hold the person off the ground for? Were you able to hold the person at arm’s length for a period of 5 or more seconds? Also, what was the distance between your body and the “victim’s” body? If your bodys were nearly touching with your arm going close to straight over your head I can see it being done because your frame can take most of the weight, but I can’t imagine anyone being able to do it with their arm at a 45 degree angle.

One of the Cirque du Soleil shows has a strongman act and on one of the two instances I saw the show they had two guys who were insanely impressive in what they can do. I can’t even remember how ungodly the positions they lifted each other from were but I would say safely that they could have lifted each other by the neck (without leaning back appreciably.)

So he was already 7" taller than you and you lifted him another 6", and by his neck, no less? You’ll excuse me if I think that the story has grown since its inspiration. Not that I think you didn’t lift someone, but this feels like a story that’s evolved over time.

Mathochist, I think the height difference would make it easier. The neck is about 10" below the top of the head, so dnooman would have been lifting from a point about eye level, not higher than his own head. The top point of dnooman’s hand position would have been maybe 3" above head height, not difficult to reach at all.

The lifting angle there is more vertical than if you were lifting from your own neck level, or lower. More of the weight is directed straight down through your skeleton than relying on the raw strength of your shoulder muscles. Difference between a front dumbell raise and a dumbell shoulder press, you can do a lot more weight with the press than the raise.

What you’re describing sounds more like getting under the neck and pressing up to lift the body than the proper outstretched-arm lift described in the OP. If this is what dnooman meant, then that’s an entirely different story.

dnooman went out of his way to imply that it was what the OP described, though…

I really didn’t keep track of time it could have been 5 seconds it could have been 10 seconds, it was grab with left pull forward to me left with right so, it is not like my arm was extended already. I did extend it after lifting and with some drink and adrenaline I think I could’ve held him out for a little while. Now mind you at the time I was lifting weights, and exercising consistently* and the guy who tried to mess with my wife while I was deployed was probably 5’8 130-140.
*consistently oh how I miss those days, now the only constant is my morning cup o’ sugar coffee and my “I’ll start exercising again tomorrow, its _______ out today” Insert rain, hot, cold, foggy anything you want in the blanks. :smack:

When I was younger, my little brother and I got curious about this very question, so we experimented (as safely as possible; do not try this at home; we are untrained loonies, etc.). Even though he was considerably smaller and lighter, and I was pretty bulky at the time, we found it nearly impossible, though I was able to pin him against the wall for a few moments.

I am a soccer referee, and had a game a couple of years ago where one of the players, after a bad tackle, picked the other off the ground by his throat for about 5-10 seconds (seemed like an eternity to me). The lifter was about 6ft2, the liftee maybe 5ft8 (about the same as me). After I’d sent him off his teammates said to me that he was notorious for doing that…perhaps anger/adrenaline made the lift easier?

Doing it Darth Vader-style, holding someone up by the neck for an extended time with a single oustretched arm, no leverage, and basically only the deltoid muscles involved, is BS. Even with adrenaline, PCP, etc.

Change any of the above factors, and you move into the realm of the situationally possible.

I can confirm that the arm was not outstretched, but bent at the elbow. You can choose to believe me or not, but I was there. :dubious:

Well … fine. All I was saying is that doing it strictly Darth Vader-style is BS. The soccer player you’re mentioning was doing it quite differently. The possibility of lifting someone by the neck employing various means of gaining leverage is not in doubt.

In highschool, kind of lifted a guy who was hasassing my sister. I lifted him up by the neck and pinned him against the wall. Held him for about 30 seconds, while assuring him that he would no longer be bothering her. However, my arm was slightly bent, and the wall provided support after the initial lift. He was shorter and about my same weight (maybe 150).

Performing a fully extended, no support lift, would be near impossible, IMHO.