Breath Play Literature (REAL) Facts

The far more intelligent approach when researching breath play, chokes, strangulation and the hanging fetish. You need to understand what you are reading. Below is also the most elegant way to say “I lied...”


“Truth be told” came a little late and didn’t have the same reach with the kink community somehow..

The most elegant way to say , "I lied".

Judo Choke - No fatalities since its inception in 1882

How Safe is Choking in Judo? - Choke done correctly and far closer to a FETISH choke than the police take downs.. 


ABSTRACT: Shime-waza or the “choke hold,” when property applied, should not cause death; therefore, its primary purpose should be to subdue violent suspects. When properly applied, the choke hold causes unconsciousness in 10-20 seconds. No fatalities as a result of shime-waza have been reported in the sport of judo since its inception in 1882. 

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Carotid-sinus - not one single case ...

A literature search in the field of sports medicine […] did not yield one single case of a fatality occurring during the practice of a martial discipline which could be identified as a result of the vagus reflex or the stimulation of the carotid-sinus. Such occurrences are thus at least extremely rare. We are of the opinion that the risk of sudden death of natural cause during the practice of such a sport as judo is much greater than the risk of death resulting from obstructive asphyxiation. 


Sudden death of healthy persons exclusively as a result of (not excessively rough) stimulation of the carotid-sinus is a scientific legend which authors copy from one another.


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His claims are misleading ~ Correct Realities Of Breath Play

Jay Wisemans texts are some of the best there are on the web on this subject; I wouldn't want to belittle the usefulness of his medical commentaries. Yet when it comes to his interpretation of the available literature and his estimation of the risks involved I think some of his claims are misleading. The text I'm referring to can be found at http://members.aol.com/Oldrope/breath.htm.

"Additionally, there are documented cases in which the recipient appeared to fully recover but was found dead several hours later."

In all such cases I could find in medical literature the victims had been choked long after they lost consciousness. The brain damage resulting in death (several weeks later in some cases) was explicitly put down to this fact.

References: Ger66, Max87, WAR88, Hen90, AK96


"Most such deaths occur during solo play, however there are many documented cases of deaths that occurred during play with a partner. It should be noted that the presence of a partner does nothing to limit the primary danger, and does little or nothing to limit most of the secondary dangers."


The primary, almost exclusive danger in autoerotic breath control play is to lose consciousness and suffocate. This danger can be reduced by approximately one hundred percent when a responsible partner is present. 

The "secondary dangers" apparently are far less common than the "primary dangers"; in fact I have to find a case yet where someone died of one of the secondary dangers Wiseman mentions while playing with a partner. Cause of death in the (very few) documented cases is clearly the partner's irresponsibility or negligence.


In a private mail Jay Wiseman explains that by "primary dangers" he means the dangers to the heart and by "secondary dangers" all the others. In my opinion, if this is what he's trying to say, the original text is at least misleading. His "primary dangers" are definitely not the most common dangers; in fact they are, if anything, extremely rare as causes of death.

"There are many documented cases of as little as five seconds of choking causing a vagal-outflow-induced cardiac arrest."


I haven't been able to find a single case yet where the cause of death was unambiguously attributed to this mechanism. Wiseman hasn't been willing or able to name the "many documented cases" - and I have been asking him for references patiently for years. I have since come to the conclusion that there are no such cases - supported, amongst others, by KU+90 -, and that Wiseman knows it, too.

References: None. Ask Jay Wiseman, maybe he'll tell you. There are one or two anecdotal cases that are quoted again and again, namely the notorious "women dropping dead on the dance floor following a 'playful tweak' of the neck by their partners" (AK96), but there are no well-documented cases, let alone many of them. Wiseman usually refers to Kni96, but Knight doesn't provide any references to specific case studies, either. For the details on this theory, cf. "Carotid sinus reflex death - A theory and its history".


"For the reason cited above, many police departments have now either entirely banned the use of choke holds ..."


For several reasons these police choke holds are rather different from what we're talking about. The theory Wiseman seems to favor (the documented deaths being due to vagal or carotid sinus stimulation by the choke hold) is rejected in all texts I've read. The victims are agitated and struggling, in most cases under the influence of alcohol or drugs (often cocaine), and usually one or two policemen kneel on the victim's back. Convulsions of the already unconscious victim are often misinterpreted as further resistance and the choke hold is continued. Additionally there are rarely reliable witnesses to prove the police haven't been using excessive force. It seems rather daring to deduce any conclusions for BDSM practices from these cases.

References: Koi87, DPM90, MD90 (martial arts choke holds), RE82, Cre83, Kor86a, Kor86b, PZ+99(police choke holds)


"While there are numerous case reports of deaths involving both solo play and partner play (far more of the former than the latter), including a report of a breath control fatality at a play party -- Brotherhood of Pain, Houston, 1985 ..."


The specific risk that makes autoerotic play so dangerous can be virtually eliminated by playing with a partner. The comparison is misleading. The mentioned fatality in Houston was caused by negligence, as were all other cases of accidents with partner I could find.

References (deaths in the presence of a partner): Sch75, Max87, MFK86, BU88, SRP97


"The risk level for doing breath control with a partner is presumably somewhere between the two (there are, after all, numerous case reports of such incidents) ..." [Wiseman is talking about the nonexistent accidents in martial arts and the numerous autoerotic fatalities on the other hand]


The first part of this statement is not very useful, the second part misleading. The risk of autoerotic play is of little concern to us in this context - claiming that the risk in playing with a partner is somewhere between staying at home and flying would be just as meaningful. It's mathematically irrefutable, just not very helpful. And the "numerous case reports" are autoerotic fatalities.

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Don’t Be A Monkey...

The "monkey see, monkey do" theory seems dubious from the BDSM practitioners' side as well. Even in the BDSM subculture where everyone knows that there is such a thing as breath control play (it is mentioned in most BDSM books too) only a small minority has tried it or wants to. Scientific texts consist usually of pure speculation since virtually all research is based solely on conjectures about dead persons. The BDSM subculture has an advantage of empirical knowledge that should not be underestimated. From our point of view, it looks like there is a small group of people who feel attracted to breath control play and a majority who don't, even with all the information available. This small group of people usually experiment with breath control play whether informed or not (mostly starting in their teens). It is completely unjustifiable to withhold information on breath control play deliberately.

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Autoerotic (alone) suffocation death are not shown separately!

Yes you hear people die this way, but they are ALONE. Now when there is no one there to take you down after you go out, you will die. 


Anyone who practices breathing control games without a partner can confidently forget the special cases under the risks. Practically all unfortunate singles players who are meticulously found dead by their relatives have simply lost consciousness through lack of oxygen in the brain and have fallen victim to their own devices.   Once they went out, there wasn’t anyone there to get them down. 


Some think of elaborate constructions which, in case of unconsciousness, should ensure that the game is stopped but unfortunately fail. A few points should always be kept in mind: In the cause of death statistics, the autoerotic (alone) suffocation death is not shown separately!


It would be most sensible not to partake in breathing games without a partner. Even games with partners are not without risk, but by orders of magnitude harmless.

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Hanging Fetish

  1. There is no drop in FETISH hangings. There’s only a slight lift and lower. 
  2. Between six seconds and one minute, but never over a minute.
  3. Never hang past unconsciousness. 
  4. Non constricted noose (strap) 
  5. Only block off one side of the neck.


Facts and how this is possible 


  1. The short drop is a method of hanging performed by placing the condemned prisoner on a stool, the top of a ladder, the back of a cart, horse, or other vehicle, with the noose around the neck. The object is then moved away, leaving the person dangling from the rope. Suspended by the neck, the weight of the body is used to tighten the noose around the trachea and neck structure causing  strangulation and subsequently death. This typically takes between ten and twenty minutes, with unconsciousness occurring within 6–15 seconds


Ten to Twenty Minutes...


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how this actually works as fetish without it being lethal. If it’s not for you, don’t request it. 

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The Eskimo Myth

Many texts state that breath control play in other cultures are a common part of the sexual repertoire. The evidence for this is rather scanty, but authors copy freely from one another and add their own emendations as they go:

"It is alleged that it is frequent practice among some Orientals for the sexual partners to mutually grasp each others throat in a strangling gesture and it is said that fatalities not infrequently result from this practice." (Hen71, no sources given)

"Anthropologists have reported that Eskimo children hang themselves in some game, probably sexual, and that the Yahgans in South America tied the neck to induce partial strangulation and exhilaration, at which time they saw beautiful colors (Stearns, A. Cases of Probable Suicide in Young Persons Without Obvious Motivation. J. Maine Med. Assoc., 44: 16, 1953). De Sade also traces erotized hanging behavior back to the Celts (De Sade, The Marquis. The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom and Other Writings. New York, 1965). Shoshone-Bannock Indian children have among their games several involving risk-taking and suffocation experiences. These are called 'smoke-out,' 'red-out,' and 'hang-up." (Larry H. Dizmang, M.D. personal communication)" (
Res72)

This "personal communication" obviously comes from somebody who read the whole thing in Melville's "Billy Budd".

"The activity of producing a temporary state of asphyxia by constriction of the carotid vessels in the neck for sexual gratification has been defined by anthropologists for centuries. The Eskimos, for example, are known to choke each other as part of their sexual activity and it is common for their children to suspend themselves by the neck in playing. (Freuchen, Book of the Eskimos, Cleveland 1961)" (WS+77)
"Anthropologists have observed similar asphyxial practices among Eskimo children (Res72), the Yaghans of South America (Stearns, A.W.(1953), Cases of probable suicide in young persons withouth obvious motivation. Maine Med. Assn. J., 44: 16-23), the Celts (Sade, Marquis de (1791), The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom and Other Writings, New York 1965), and the Shoshone-Bannock Indians (Melville, H., Billy Budd, Foretopman. In: The Shorter Novels of Herman Melville, Greenwich 1928). It is said (Hen71) to be a frequent practice among some Orientals for the sexual partners to grasp each other's throat in a strangling gesture, which sometimes results in fatalities. Resnik (Res72
personally noted several games in which excited children choke each other by compressing the neck or chest." (RF79)

"In addition, anthropologists have pointed out that certain ethnic and cultural groups (e.g., Eskimos) are known to choke each other as part of their sexual activity. In such cultures it is common for the children to suspend themselves by the neck during play." (
LW82 quotes WS+77)
"The late professor Leopold Breitenecker, former Professor and Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine of the University of Vienna, Austria, described pressure on the neck during sexual activity as an activity common in Eskimo and Southeast Asian people. This practice was brought to Europe and Africa by French Foreign Legionnaires and presented occasional problems in forensic pathology for Professor Breitenecker and his colleagues. He maintained an acute interest in geographic forensic pathology ..." (Editor's note in
Ems83)

I haven't been able to find any material on this by the much-quoted professor Breitenecker. The only thing I found is off-topic: in 1967 he gave this expert opinion in a lawsuit against medical doctors who had supervised Nazi gas chambers: "It is certainly one of the most humane methods of killing." Well, I guess that's some kind of geographic forensic pathology, too ...

"A stone sculpture in the Museo de Antropológia in Mexico City depicts a naked man with a rope looped around his neck. Scars are visible on his cheeks and forehead, and his penis, once erect, has been fractured from the sculpture. The museum sign beneath the statue states that it is a Mayan relic from the late classic or early postclassic period depicting an adolescent from a phallic cult. The scars on his face are said to be facial decorations. The sculpture was apparently done c. 1000 A.D., the approximate date of the transition between the late classic and early postclassic periods. (...)


Whether the ancient Maya had discovered autoerotic asphyxia, as the sculpture so strongly suggests, will perhaps never be known with certainty. It is known, however, that the Maya believed that the souls of individuals who hang themselves go directly to paradise, where they are received by Ixtab, goddess of the hanged (Alexander 1964). The representation of Ixtab in a Mayan manuscript drawing shows her in a kneeling posture, her one visible nipple erect, suspended by a noose around her neck; her ankles appear to be bound together (see the Dresden Codex on p. 316 of Anders 1963).
Frazer (1959) described ritual and religious hangings among the Greeks and other ancient cultures." (
HDB83)
"This was attributed to the experiences of French Foreign Legionnaires who had been stationed in French Indochina (Vietnam) before its independence from France. This was also a topic discussed by Prof. Leopold Breitenecker, late professor of legal medicine of the University of Vienna, Austria, in his lectures. Pressure on the neck during intercourse was practiced and occasionally resulted in deaths of one of the partners due to the effect on the carotid sinus." (
Min85)

For this alleged "effect on the carotid sinus", see also Carotid sinus reflex death - a theory and its history.


"The practice of sexual asphyxia has been described in anthropological studies of various populations in Europe and the Orient and also among peoples such as the Inuit and Yaghan Indians (RF79)." (BB88)

"Anthropological data show that asphyxiation in order to enhance sexual stimulation occurs in several cultures. Among the Eskimos, asphyxiation is often part of adult sexuality and asphyxiation is also common in children's games (Freuchen D (Ed.): Peter Freuchen's book of the Eskimos. Cleveland 1961). Children of Shoshone-Bannock Indians play games where suffocation is a part of the game (
Res72). Further, the old Celts were known to asphyxiate themselves." (IE89)

"Walsh, Stahl, Unger, Lilienstern, and Stephens (
WS+77) report that producing a temporary state of asphyxia by constriction of the carotid vessels in the neck for sexual gratification has been known to anthropologists 'for centuries'. 'The Eskimos,' they write, 'are known to choke each other as part of their sexual activity and it is common for their children to suspend themselves by the neck in [sex] play' (p. 158)." (Sau89)

The sexual part in the children's play is Saunders' allegation - WS+77 don't mention it.

"Eskimo children have been reported to seek unconsciousness as a delightful game. (Freuchen D (Ed.): Peter Freuchen's book of the Eskimos. Cleveland 1961)" (DIE90)

"De Sade described the practice in his erotic novel Justine (1791) (see Seaves & Wainhouse 1965) and in a footnote the editors attribute it to pre-Christian Celts in Britain. Hazelwood et al. (
HDB83, p. 14) suggest that it was known to the Mayas of ancient Mexico who recognised a goddess, Ixtab, of the hanged." (Huc90)

Hucker seems to be the only one to actually have looked up the passage in De Sade (I admit I didn't :-) - or why didn't his predecessors notice that it wasn't De Sade who'd attributed the practice to the Celts but his 20th century editors?

"Manual or ligature compression of the carotid arteries in the neck, which causes hypoxia that is intended to prolong orgasm during anterior or posterior intercourse, was originally reported by Prof. Leopold Breitenecker (personal communication), Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Vienna, who claimed that the technique had been practiced by Eskimos and by Asians before it was introduced to Europe by French Foreign Legionnaires returning from war in Indo-China, where the technique was performed by prostitutes to increase the client's sensation of ejaculation." (EKD91)

"Statuary from Mexico from the end of the first millennium suggests that the Mayans were cognizant of the association between asphyxia and erotica: one of a man with an erection and a noose around his neck still survives. And we do know that they believed the souls of those who hanged themselves went directly to paradise, where they were received by Ixtab, the Goodess of the Hanged. Statues of her depict a young woman on her knees with a rope around her neck, with pronouncedly erect nipples." (
BP93)

"Inuit Indians, which is to say, Eskimos, are also known to have practised this, and numerous European historians have chronicled its use in what was then called Cochin China, and later, French Indo-China. French Legionnaires are said to have brought it from there to France." (
BP93 quoting EKD91)
"Although the first description of autoerotic asphyxial deaths appeared in the American literature in the 1950s, the use of asphyxia as a means of enhancing sexual gratification was apparently previously well-known. As examples, neck compression with heterosexual activity was known to generations of Eskimos, and the Marquis de Sade described the induction of erotic sensations by self-suspension in his book 'Justine', published in 1791." (
CCM94, source probably Res72)
"Anthropologists have long been aware of asphyxial practices among various cultures, including the Inuit of the Arctic and the Yaghans of South America (Hirschfield, N. (sic): Sexual anomalies: the origins, nature and treatment of sexual disorders. New York 1948: 374-377)." (
TBS94)

Magnus Hirschfeld's book does contain a few pages on strangulation, but the facts quoted here are not mentioned there; at least not in the German translation which seems to be unabridged. If anyone who has the English version could look it up and tell me if it's missing there, too, I'd be grateful.

"Anthropologists have described asphyxial practices in both adults and children. A frequent practice among Orientals is to strangle the throat to heighten sexual pleasure (Hen71). Likewise, the Yahgans in South America tied the neck to induce partial strangulation which produced exhilaration and at which time, they saw beautiful colors (Stearns, A. Cases of Probable suicide in young persons without obvious motivation. J Maine Med Assoc 1953; 44:16). The Celts also utilized erotic hanging for pleasure (DeSade, the Marquis. The Complete Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom and other Writings. New York 1965). Children, similarly partake in this practice. For example, the Eskimo children hang themselves in a sexual game (Res72). Moreover, the Shoshone-Bannock Indian children play 'smoke-out,' 'red-out,' and 'hang-up,', which are suffocating games (Melville, H. Billy Budd, Foretopman in the Shorter Novels of Herman Melville. Greenwich 1928).
"The Marquis de Sade traced the origin of the practice to the Celts (the alleged source is BP93, where nothing of the sort is mentioned), but early accounts have also been found in the Eskimo and American Indian cultures, the Mayan Indians having a goddess of the hanged, Ixtab, usually depicted on her knees with a rope around her neck and with erect nipples." (JH97)

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Safety - Head tilt-chin lift!

How to get an unconscious person breathing . With one simple movement, I repositioned his head and opened the airway. Air could be heard entering his lungs and the cyanosis quickly dissipated. Link is below to this article.

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THE DOBKIN TECHNIQUE: A LIFE-SAVER

An emergency time-buying procedure to trigger the

Mammalian Diving Reflex and delay brain injury and brain death:


The Dobkin Technique:

In Emergency apply ice cold water or cold wet compress to the face and eyes of the victim. Temperature of compress must be 58 degrees or cooler. Keep cold compress on face.


Keep face cold and wet, apply until emergency personnel arrive and breathing is established. The Dobkin Technique may be used by itself, or in conjunction with CPR. It may be self administered, or the treatment may be described to a bystander, child or caregiver over the phone.


This simple procedure works immediately to trigger the Mammalian Diving Reflex and delay brain injury and brain death. This is the same reflex that delays brain damage in cold water drowning victims:

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