In the summer of 1984, my Danzan Ryu Jujitsu brother, William “Willy” Lensch, and I devised a game to “pressure test” our Jujitsu proficiency.

The aggressor would place a hold on the defender who would then attempt to escape. If the defender was able to free himself from the aggressor’s hold, the defender would be awarded a point. If the defender was unable to free himself from the aggressor’s hold, the defender would “tap out,” and the point would go to the aggressor. 

We took turns being the aggressor and the defender. This went on for some time, back and forth, with both of us experiencing success and failure. But every time we failed to escape, we learned valuable lessons, which were actually successes.

When it was my turn to once again be the aggressor, I placed a rear naked carotid choke hold on Willy. He nonchalantly reached up with his right fingers and gently tapped on my elbow. I assumed he was simply acknowledging that I was wearing an elbow pad on my right elbow due to a minor injury I had previously sustained.

A few seconds later, Willy muttered, “Choke me!”

Well, I assumed Willy wanted more of a challenge before attempting to escape, so I clamped my hold down harder around his neck.

A few seconds later, Willy went limp and fell to the mat, motionless.

I quickly got Sensei Dennis Estes’ attention and frantically motioned for him to assist me. He came rushing over, placed Willy in a seated position, and performed a technique designed to resuscitate someone who had been choked out.

Once Willy came to and regained his composure, Sensei Estes asked for an explanation.

I went first. I related the above experience.

Then Willy recounted his version of the story. He explained that the choke hold I had placed on him was so effective that he was unable to escape, so he reached up with his right hand and tapped me on the right elbow, signaling for me to release the choke hold. Then, when I failed to release the choke hold, Willy said, “You’re choking me!”

The next thing Willy remembered was waking up to Sensei Estes and me asking if he was all right.

A retired police officer friend of mine told me that, from his experience on the force, there are generally three sides to every story involving two people: Each participant’s version of the incident, and then the actual version.

I guess perception isn’t always reality.

I’m sticking to my story.