Usually considered a professional wrestling maneuver, but can also refer to a legitimate hand-to-hand combat technique.

To apply the professional wrestling version:

  • Get behind your opponent
  • Wrap your arms around your opponent's head, being careful not to get your arms around the neck, as that would be an illegal choke hold.
  • Pretend to squeeze tight
  • Your opponent can :
    • sell this move, in which case he slowly loses consciousness and drops to his knees
    • or hit you in the gut with his elbow, or something like that
  • eventually, your opponent will come back to life, as no one has submitted to the sleeper hold in years. Usually, your opponent will slump down, and the ref will come to check on him to see if he's still conscious. He'll raise his arms, it'll drop when he let's go. The ref will raise your opponent's arm again, and again it'll drop. But on the third try, the arm just barely stays up, signaling that your opponent is now going to start kicking your ass

The manner with which the arms are wrapped around the head doesn't seem to matter much, as it seems to be different every time. What's important is to make it look as if your arms are compressing the carotid artery.

Which brings us to the legitimate version of a sleeper hold, in which you actually press hard enough to cut off the blood circulation to the brain. This actually works, and there was a somewhat famous occasion where a professional wrestler applied the 'real' version to a talk host that was doubting the 'reality' of professional wrestling... misuba says re Sleeper hold: the talk show host was Richard Belzer and the show was Hot Properties on Lifetime before Lifetime became the women's network. I believe it was Hulk Hogan who did the deed although it could have been randy savage. (why do i know this?)

There are a couple of variations of this move, including The Million Dollar Dream, Tazzmission, and Dragon Sleeper.