I was never that great when it came to the jacket arts of grappling,
Jiu-Jitsu was not my thing  but I did try, even winning some very early grappling tournaments back in the nineties under Kip Kollar first promotions.  In 1997, I discovered Judo and found some success winning the 1998 Connecticut State Judo Championships.
I was training under Serge Bouyssou and The MAYO QUANCHI JUDO CLUB
 Having personally been caught in many rear naked chokes I want to address a common question— Can a stronger neck  help prevent blackout when caught in a rear naked choke?
When caught in a choke is it more in keeping the chin down/tucked so the choke could not be sunk in?
If your opponent is able to get the choke locked in, is your neck strength able to outlast his arm strength long enough for you to get the escape?
My answer is simple and going to shock you,
Answer is NO!
If a man can simply escape from being choked out by having a huge/strong neck why are so many still being choked/tapped out?
The reason why is because most of it is a state of mind and individual character.
I am not claiming to be an expert on the mental side of the game.
I can share what my mentality was when I was able to overcome and win.
There were many matches I had where I faced adversity and was able to come back and claim victory.
Two matches stand out in my mind because I should have lost.
My opponents could not have asked for a better scenario, they had the perfect hold, both chokes were sunk in and deep.
Lets take a look:

The first match is from 1997 and was the 2nd North American Grappling Association tournament ever held by Kip Kollar.    It was held at Elite Martial Arts Center in Pawtucket Rhode Island and was owned by the classy Manny Neves RIP.

NAGA as it became know is one of the most famous grappling organizations today.

I was a beginner and entered the open weight division. I weighed in at 230 pounds, was in great condition, very strong and really green (meaning inexperienced).

My opponent was a Black belt and good Jiu-Jitsu player.

His technique was crisp and quick and he was very good at controlling my head with the lapel of the jacket. It was really annoying me.
 Thankfully I was able to counter most of his attacks simply by being so much stronger than him.  I constantly overpowered him until……he got my back and sunk in the great choke you saw above.
  I started to get light headed, my throat felt like I was swallowing my tongue. My vision became pixilated and I started to see double.
I remember gasping for breath and thinking to myself crap I am done.
 I tried to remain calm and take short breaths through my nose and out my mouth.
I continually worked one of my fingers into the side of the jacket to create space to get more air.
 My head was pounding like you get with a severe headache, the room was spinning and everything seemed foggy.
 I heard the referee ask me 3 different times are you ok?
I thought about tapping out, my family was there, friends drove far to watch me compete, but I didn’t want to quit.
The deeper I got my finger in between the jacket and my neck the more air I got.
I had quit on myself many times in the past but not this time.
 I wanted to be a champion.
Right then and there in a split second I made the choice! Do yo understand I used my brain and made a decision to not quit.
I was determined to win.
The lights started to become brighter…… the pressure in my head was letting up…….. I was tired but I felt better.
 I was able to swallow and noticed my opponent was losing his grip..
 I was in top shape and knew this is my chance….. I waited and took as much air in through my nose as I could.
When I felt my opponent re-grip his sleeve I made my move and escaped.

I ended up taking 1st place that day and winning my first amateur championship.

The next fight that stands out to me took place at the Wonderland Ballroom/Dog track in Revere Ma year 1999.

I can’t imagine a better set up as a grappler than the one my opponent had me in.

This would have been
a dream come true for any grappler and most likely would have led to a victory.

I had other plans.

Here I was, the match just started and I made a costly mistake. I over shot my strike and my opponent was able to take my back and put me on the floor.  He was able to hook in both his legs and sink a full rear naked choke.

This gent was very strong and I was all about finished.

I remember lying there and thinking to myself dang! I don’t want to tap out. Guess I’m going to sleep.

The lights became dark as my eyes began to water.  Pressure built in my head what felt like to the beat of my heart.  My tongue felt like it had swollen and my throat became very sore.

The yells from the crowd and the instructions from my corner became very distant like an echo. All the sudden the pressure stopped, the pounding in my head was almost gone. I felt faint and very relaxed.

I think I was close to going to sleep……when all of the sudden my opponent adjusted his arms giving me more space to get my hand inside his wrist!

The lights began to brighten, the screams from the crowd became louder then I heard my corner yell “Mike grab his foot!”

Easier said than done since I was so out of it I didn’t know where I was and I couldn’t see his legs or his feet.

Controlling one of his wrists I let go with my other hand and reached down till I found a foot.

As you see in the video I grabbed the wrong foot LOL.

My goal was to grab the foot and ram my elbow down into the same shin bone of the foot I was holding.

This would put pressure on the shin bone enough to get him to loosen his grip around my neck thus allowing me to make my move to escape.

It worked.

I was able to escape, recover and move forward winning the Western Ma Submission Wrestling Championship.

Did I win because of my neck strength or was it because on that day I was mentally strong and determined not to lose?

Maybe it was a combination of both mental toughness and a strong neck?

In my opinion it is a combination of both.

You can have the biggest,  powerfully yoked neck on the mat but if you are not mentally tough you will only go so far.

Old newspaper clipping about my strength and work ethic from High school for the wrestling team.

Training our neck in all 4 ranges of motion will definitely help our grappling game. It helps us be harder to control in the clinch and gives us the ability to defend better against chokes and neck cranks.

The most important trait a man can have when stepping on the mat is a strong character.

A strong character, strong mindset and a strong desire to succeed will far outlast a strong neck.

Own your day,
The Machine