Know Your Holds

Ron Farrar (Ace Sports Promotions)

The Sleeper

Without doubt this is one of the most effective holds in pro-wrestling. This particular variation was originated and used to great effect by Mrs Akala Jan of India, who through its use rendered several women unconscious, and is shown later over Sue Brittain. Below is a scene from the film Below the Belt. However the action depicted in Below the Belt is in fact unlikely to produce a sleeper effect as the subsequent text shows. Click here to see a longer animation where Akala Jan works on Sue Brittain's neck to bring her to submission as she is manoevered into the final part of the hold.

After softening up, one takes the luckless opponent into the start by applying pressure to the nerve points at the base of the neck as shown right. This brings about a dizziness and an inability to move.

When the opponent is so weakened by the pressure the neck stretch is brought into play. This is applied as shown at the top of the next column. One arm is across the throat and the other up the side of the head with the hands locked. This cuts off part of the blood supply to the head, and has the effect of distancing things and making all noise seem remote, with the feeling of slipping away.

The move is completed by stepping one leg across the body of the victim to hold down their body and the head is then pulled upwards accompanied by a tightening of the lock at the side of the head. This hurts even through the distancing effect. The resulting cut in the blood supply to the head leads to the start of a black out for the victim. Should the victim struggle their own position is worsened as a struggle only increases the pressure and causes a quicker KO.

I would suggest that once the hold is applied and it is obvious that there is no way out the victim immediately signals their submission to avoid the dangerous consequences of the hold being applied by anyone less than an expert.

This variation of the sleeper hold was first seen in the championship match between the champ Sue Brittain and Akala Jan at Bradford in 1977. It was to prove the "secret weapon" in Akala's arsenal. Sue was not expecting this and as a result of its application, though she did not pass out, she was so weakened that soon after this submission Akala Jan was able to gain a second and winning fall to take the title.

Though Sue regained the title in a rematch 10 days or so later, she always had great respect and fear of the move. When asked how she would cope when in the same hold in any future bout she said that she would always submit the minute she realised she could not escape, thus avoiding its dazing effect.

Amongst the women who have been rendered unconscious by the move are Lady Dawn (Scotland), Lynne Carr (Scotland), Jane Campbell, Jane St. John, and Kelly McKay. Most other girls Akala has fought, whilst avoiding a KO, have had to scream a loud and instant submission.

I must stress that this is not a hold to play with if you don't know what you are doing.

It caused Lynne Carr to pack up a promising career. She took quite some time to revive, and she decided the game too dangerous.

Editorial Comment:

I have noticed in Amfem's International Guide to Amateur Female Fighting and on the Internet newsgroup quite a few men expressing an interest in receiving this hold in the smooth arms of an erotic female wrestler. I would draw their attention to Mr Farrar's warning. We cannot take responsibility for people "slipping away" for good!

However I do wonder whether experts in the form of medical practitioners could have used it before anaesthesia was invented. Surely it would have been safer than knocking people out with a blow to the head, which method was used if the old films are to be believed.