DO I NEED TO TRAIN BRAZILIAN JIUJITSU AS A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER?
Can BJJ Keep You Safe on the Street?
Law Enforcement Officers are in physical confrontations more often than perhaps any other armed professionals or citizens. This has led to many discussions within the martial arts and Law Enforcement communities regarding what martial art is the most "street applicable for self defense." Ask any Law Enforcement Officer what they believe is the most practical martial for self defense and you will undoubtedly receive many different opinions.
Over the course of my 18 year Law Enforcement career, I have studied various martial arts (Aikido, Karate, kick boxing, Jiujitsu) and believe Brazilian Jiujitsu is the most practical martial art for Law Enforcement, as well as the most efficient art for "real world" self defense.
In a recent conversation I had with a Law Enforcement "defensive tactics" instructor, I was met with some resistance when I told him I believed Brazilian Jiujjitu was the most practical martial art for Law Enforcement. His argument against my opinion was Brazilian Jiujitsu is a "ground based" art, stating "we never want to go to the ground as police officers." I could not help but outwardly chuckle when I asked the defensive tactics instructor what an officer instructs a non compliant subject to do. His response was, "show me your hands and get on the ground." After his response, the defensive tactics instructor looked at me as if he knew what my next words would be. If we as Law Enforcement Officers are asking the most potentially violent subjects we encounter to "get on the ground," why are we not teaching our police cadets/recruits a ground based system of self defense?
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I recently listened to a pod cast where world famous Brazilian Jiujitsu Coach, John Danaher, explains BJJ as the following four step system.
1. Take subject to the ground to limit ones explosiveness. The explosiveness of a kick or punch has the potential to knock out or incapacitate a person or officer. As Law Enforcement Officers, If we are knocked out or incapacitated, the subject has access to our weapons/firearm and could use it against us.
2. Get past subjects dangerous legs (up-kicks). Once on the ground pass the subjects legs and get to a position of control and dominance.
3. Work way through hierarchy of pins where pins ( side control, knee on belly, mount, rear mount) are understood regarding the potential to control or strike opponent on the ground.
4. Submit the subject. The officer could use a variety of submissions from the ground to control the subject in a manner that has the least potential for injury to the officer and subject.
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I was recently asked to teach a "defensive tactics" class to a group of Police Cadets. These Cadets (age 14-18) had very little experience in defensive tactics. The techniques I taught the Cadets were very basic Brazilian Jiujitsu concepts (clinch, guard, side mount, hip escapes, mount escape). After an hour of instruction, the Cadets were able to perform these techniques efficiently, allowing them to control a physical conflict long enough for a back-up officer to arrive and assist the cadet in taking the subject in custody in the safest manner possible for both parties.
On a personal level, I have used Jiujitsu to detain combative subjects with very little to no injury to the resisting subject. I believe the reality based techniques of BJJ and the emphasis on "controlling" the subject, makes Brazilian Jiujitsu perfect for public safety officers.