The rear naked choke is a pretty common finishing move in MMA but it can also be applied on the street in a self-defense situation so it is imperative to learn how to defend against it as well as how to escape it if you ever find yourself at the receiving end of one.
The rear naked choke, like all chokes, is potentially a deadly maneuver as holding it too long could have disastrous consequences. On the street, there are no referees and you never know what someone's intentions are or how crazy they are so simply tapping out is not an option.
In this video from martial artist Ando Mierzwa, he alongside BJJ black belt Stephan Kesting demonstrate the proper defense to the standing rear naked choke and break it down in an easy to digest way.
Kesting points out that with any technique there are always 3 levels of defense - the before, during, and after. Obviously, the before is to never turn your back to an opponent or let an opponent get a hold of you from behind.
The during is protecting your neck and this can be done by pulling your attacker's arm and dropping your weight down. Also, it is important to always keep your chin down. This not only helps protect your neck in this particular scenario but also prevents you from being KO'd from random strikes as well.
Once an attacker has a choke fully locked out, it is a very dangerous spot to be in. You really only have a few seconds before the lights go out so you really can't make a mistake.
Kesting suggests focusing your attention on the hand behind your head and grabbing the fingers. Then you pull that arm down and lock it underneath your armpit before returning your attention to the arm around your neck. From there you pull the arm down to break away.
As soon as your free it is also imperative that you turn and face your attacker to prevent the choke from being applied again but as always, running away once you have the chance is the best move.