Prior to breaking my foot I learned two different chokes. Even though you learn them slowly, and over the watchful eye of instructors you’re bound to have some awkward miscues. Mine happened when repeating the choke we had just learned.

I was partnered with a black belt which was really cool, because he could diagnose exactly what I was doing wrong and then dumb it down so my brain could understand. The first three times I did it, I wasn’t keeping the choke tight enough and he slipped out of my arms. I have a fear of hurting someone (weird that I chose a hobby that involves choking people, right?) so often times I’ll try and be as gentle as I can.

The fourth time I performed the choke perfectly. Well, as perfectly as a third-week white belt can, and he tapped. Then a weird thing happened. We were wrapped up so tight, that when I let go, the choke didn’t immediately alleviate. My partner needed a minute to catch his breath. I felt like an asshole and profusely apologized. He told me there was no need and he had me drill it again.

The same thing happened. Regardless of how limp I went with my arms, legs and chest, it still didn’t give him immediate relief when he tapped. What was I doing wrong? I in NO way wanted to hurt this guy, or have him think I was holding onto a choke for an extra second to really be malicious. So I asked.
My partner told me that sometimes it happened, as long as I was letting go, it was completely fine. “People who come here understand and don’t mind it, so don’t worry about it.” We then switched roles and he performed the choke on me. And while the same thing happened to me, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was.