The grip on his throat is no less painful for being invisible. The air stops flowing to his lungs. Blood ceases circulating in his brain. His eyesight fades to white…. “Apology accepted,” Vader murmurs, and turns back to the bounty hunters.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi? — Adam Gidwitz

As any martial artist will know, a choke is usually a restriction of the blood flow to the brain. This does not take much force and leads to a quick loss of consciousness.

However, a force choke is usually depicted as a restriction of air flow, which would suggest damage to the trachea, which takes much longer before loss of consciousness (how long can you hold your breath?) and takes much more force.

So how is a Force choke executed? Is it merely a classic choke (e.g. constricting the outside of the throat) executed using the Force or is it something different entirely?

  • 3
    Not to be overly snarky, but the bit you quoted specifically says "air stops flowing" and "blood ceases circulating" so I'm not clear what else you're looking for?
    – KutuluMike
    Sep 23, 2015 at 21:19
  • 2
    I think the implication is 'Is the "force-choke" just a standard choke (executed using the force) or is it confined (internally) to the throat/windpipe/arteries'
    – Valorum
    Sep 23, 2015 at 21:22
  • @Richard yes indeed. Please edit as you see fit.
    – SQB
    Sep 23, 2015 at 22:01
  • 1
    @JohnP ~ Vader could pull the inside of the trachea walls together to Force choke his victim instead of compressing the trachea from the outside.
    – IconDaemon
    Sep 23, 2015 at 23:12
  • 2
    Medically speaking, choking refers to an internal obstruction of the airways. Strangulation refers to external constriction of the throat.
    – user31178
    Sep 24, 2015 at 3:42

3 Answers 3


Your answer is already contained in the quote that you cite in your question:

The grip on his throat is no less painful for being invisible. The air stops flowing to his lungs. Blood ceases circulating in his brain. His eyesight fades to white…. “Apology accepted,” Vader murmurs, and turns back to the bounty hunters.

There are two types of chokes, air and blood. Air chokes can take a few minutes to be effective, and consist of compressing or otherwise blocking the flow of air into the lungs. With this type of choke, blood still circulates freely.

With a blood choke, you cut off the circulation to the brain. This can result in unconsciousness in a manner of seconds (Depending on effectiveness of choke), as the brain uses up the available bound oxygen in whatever blood is already in the brain. With a blood choke, air can still move in and out of the lungs.

As the quote says, air stops flowing to the lungs (air choke), blood ceases circulating to the brain (blood choke), so your answer is that it's something else entirely, that basically occludes all passages through the throat (Trachea and arteries). It does so without apparent damage, as well.


I would say that "Force choke" is a general term for any technique whereby an individual uses the Force to cause discomfort or pain in or around the throat.

Per Wookieepedia

Force choke was used to inflict harm or injury for various purposes. Sometimes it was used simply as an expression of anger or displeasure. Other times it was used to kill outright.

Considering the sheer amount of applications of Force choke, I think it's safe to say that there's not just one way in which it is executed. Most likely it simply depends on the individual, their familiarity with the technique, and their desired outcome.

Wanting to slightly intimidate someone in order to advance a point would require a different approach in contrast to swiftly collapsing the trachea in order to dispatch an opponent in combat. Both, however, would be considered Force chokes.


A force choke seems to be telekenitic in nature and requires a detailed knowledge of anatomy. The word 'choke' is used generically.

The reaction shown on screen is obviously due to restricting oxygen the lungs. (Air choke) The panic and choking, gasping reaction of trying to breath is the clue. You see the same reaction with someone who has something caught in their throat.

Restriction of blood flow to the brain (Blood choke) is far less painful and visually dramatic. Usually not painful at all. The subject gets light headed briefly, the edges of their vision quickly turn dark and collapse/contract quickly to a pinhole then to unconsciousness. Their hands may or may not go briefly to their throat before they collapse. They will likely not even know there is a problem until just before they collapse.

An air choke can be used as a form of torture/punishment. A fringe benifit to this type of choking is in sending a message to those watching for coercion and/or intimidation purposes.

The blood choke gets the job done quickly and quietly, the air choke... not so much.

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