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Pros say leave choke holds to them

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 11 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 13 2013 12:19:51 PM CDT
Charles Derr
TOBYHANNA TWP., Pa. -

The name may sound comical, but the martial arts move known as a rear-naked choke hold can be deadly.

A man in Monroe County was charged with homicide Tuesday after applying the move to a friend.

"A rear-naked choke is a way of submitting an opponent by blocking off the airways on either side of the throat," said Joe Kortbawi, sensei at Leading Edge Martial Arts.

That's the move police said landed Charles Derr in the Monroe County Correctional Facility.

Derr's friend died last year at Derr's vacation home. Derr, 25, admits to arguing, wrestling and then using a mixed martial arts move.

Kortbawi said it's not a good idea for untrained people to do these types of choke holds.

"They don't really have a good concept of when enough is enough," added Kortbawi.

Instructors said they won't even teach students moves like the rear-naked choke until they get to a more advanced level, like a purple belt or red belt. That means they have at least 2-and-1/2 years experience.

"When somebody is not trained, they don't know when to stop," said Kortbawi. "They don't know when they've had enough. They keep going."

Derr did just that, according to court records. The affidavit shows he told investigators he could feel bones cracking in his friend's neck.

"This isn't something that kids should be playing with in the backyard or adults thinking that they are having fun doing it to one another," said Kortbawi. "It's too easy to go too far."

And going too far could have deadly consequences.