Beddy Bye

Short of actually killing a dude with your bare hands, snapping his neck commando-style, the sleeper hold offers what looks like the ultimate form of domination in wrestling, first by gaining total paralyzing control of the opponent's body, then by draining him of every ounce of consciousness, and finally by kicking him aside like so much trash for the junk heap.  

My first and frankly only experience of the sleeper was at summer camp between fourth and fifth grades.  I was at a Baptist youth retreat in Oklahoma, and one of the campers was taking volunteers to be knocked out by him.  When I arrived, he already had two or three boys lying limp in the grass at his feet.  I didn't know what the deal was, but my friend pushed me forward as the next "volunteer."  The kid, a bit bigger, with whatever passed as bully appeal in elementary school, told me to breathe deeply fifty times.  From behind, he reached around and placed the palm of one hand on my stomach to feel it heave in and out; the other hand he rested on my shoulder as I felt his breath beat softly against the back of my neck.  All the kids counted down from fifty.  At "zero," the big kid clamped me hard around the stomach and lifted me up.  Maybe for half a second I was suspended in air and conscious, and then I was out, waking a few seconds later with my friend and this kid standing over me and looking down at me as I lay in the grass.

Years later, college pals and I would play-act putting each other into sleepers, largely for the thrill of sustained skin-on-skin contact as we tussled in our BVDs.  I half convinced myself that I was indeed slipping into unconsciousness while I was really savoring the rough, Schlitz-y smell of my buddies and the heat radiating off their skin.  When it was my turn to put them to "sleep," I got off on pressing my package up to their spines and feeling their back muscles writhe against my hairy thighs.  Good times, but nothing close to the real thing, which is, I'm told, quite dangerous.  But if I could pick the way I was to shuffle off this mortal coil, I think it would be in the muscular arms and thighs of a young, tan athlete, shirtless at least, if not naked, his strong heart pounding between my shoulders as his biceps and forearms tighten at my throat.

[Please note MAwrestler's correction in the comments section below.]

(These shots come from a YouTube vid posted by Dormituri.)


  1. I get you, Joe, how those pics remind you of a sleeper hold, but that's actually a dragon hold, a sort of reverse headlock and body scissors combination, one not likely to put one out to sleep. In that hold you can quite shut off the air waves enough to knock a guy out. And this particular version of it isn't even fully applied. Still, it's a hot hold and, from your essay, I know what you mean.


  2. Thank you, MAwrestler, for the correction. Passionate as I am, I am just a dilettante in the wrestling arts, and I am always ready and willing to learn something new, on the mats or on the blog.


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